A healing modality for anxiety and depression that gets us energetically unstuck and manifesting fast
Are you a trauma survivor?
Do you have a traumatic event from your past that you still carry with you to this day? Something that still has the power to upset you just by thinking about it?
Ok, that’s kind of a trick question.
The answer is, we ALL do. For some of us, it will be devastating events that we typically associate with the term “trauma.” Things like divorce (our own or our parent’s), a near-death experience, sexual abuse or assault, the death of a loved one or an extreme act of violence against us for example.
The CDC did a study about this several years ago called the Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACES) which is a measurement of how many of these big traumatic events a person experienced before the age of 18 and the impact this has on their long-term health.
The higher your score the more likely you are to experience anxiety, depression and eventually disease. (If you would like to take the questionnaire for this study, go here.)
Little traumas are everywhere
It’s not just the major traumas that can adversely affect us. Not everyone experiences these big events (while some, unfortunately, experience many of them), but each one of us has had something happen in our lives upsetting enough to create a negative association in our mind that we may carry in our subconscious for years.
Our lives are made up of a series of experiences which we form perceptions about. Through our senses, these memories are recorded and given labels or emotional interpretations such as good, bad, sad, scary, hurtful, etc – basically either positive, negative or neutral.
Maybe a beloved friend moved away unexpectedly never to be seen again. Maybe you had to switch schools multiple times because your family moved a lot. Maybe you were picked on for the gap in your teeth throughout your childhood.
Whatever it is, chances are that if you perceive it to be a negative experience, you also developed a limiting belief associated with it.
Limiting beliefs cause anxiety and depression
A limiting belief is an untruth we develop in response to an event. These beliefs continue to drive our behavioral responses for better or worse in every aspect of our lives.
Our subconscious mind is often running the show, working as a lens we see the world through. Everything that comes our way gets filtered through this lens.
Let’s take one of the smaller traumatic examples above. Perhaps you had trouble making a new friend after your best friend moved away. You also continued to worry that any new friend you made was just going to leave you, so you didn’t let yourself get too close. As an adult this underlying (and irrational) fear may still be operating within you, preventing you from making friends on a deeper level.
The thing is you may not even realize it’s irrational! In your mind, this is simply the truth and it continues to sabotage future relationships.
No two stories are the same
What’s really fascinating to me is that two people can experience the exact same event and yet come to very different conclusions about it. Where one person feels fearful and devastated another feels grateful and at peace.
I remember seeing this in action after forest fires ravaged multiple areas of our state (my hubby was a wildland firefighter at the time).
During a news interview, one family who survived the blaze but had lost their home responded, “We’ve lost everything and are completely devastated. I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Another family who had also lost everything replied, “We’re just so grateful that we all came out of this alive. That’s really all that matters. Stuff can always be replaced.”
Perception is everything. When we form a negative connection to an event, it will continue to have an impact on us not just mentally but physically as well.
How our bodies respond the negative emotions
When the amygdala perceives danger, adrenaline is released in response to fear, putting the body into fight, flight or freeze mode.
In this state, your blood sugar levels increase and blood vessels are restricted to redirect blood flow to the larger muscle groups.
This is great in response to real and present physical threats, no so much when our body goes through this cycle over and over because of emotional worries, stress, and fear.
This chronic production of adrenaline and cortisol can lead to panic attacks, headaches, tremors, hypertension, and anxiety.
Our stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol can recreate a memory with the same emotional intensity and physical reaction (racing heart, sweaty palms, shortness of breath) as when you first experienced it.
In essence, we often end up reliving an upsetting memory when we allow ourselves to recall it or are triggered to do so unless we can reprogram the memory so as to render it harmless.
I once heard it explained this way: Many animals (such as deer) will freeze in response to fear (aka “deer in the headlights”) and then flee. Once the threat has passed, the animal will literally shake and tremble as a way of dissipating the high level of stress hormones coursing through their bodies.
In the same way, we also need a tool to not only help our bodies relax and dispell stress physically but to recode events in our minds so that they no longer have the power to control how we behave or interpret the world around us.
Enter one simple technique
So what is this one simple technique?
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), sometimes called “tapping.”
Tapping has been called “psychological acupuncture” and addresses both the biological and emotional parts of the mind. Talk therapy, for example, only covers our emotional response (and often leads to reliving the negative experiences over and over).
Tapping has been called “psychological acupuncture.”
In the 1960’s, it was discovered that the body has microscopic thread-like channels called Bonghan channels that act as a system of information transmitters. These channels can carry even greater amounts of information than your nervous system. Bonghan lines correspond to the same meridian lines the ancient Chinese mapped out over 5,000 years ago!
When we have a negative connection to a memory or current event, an energy blockage can take place along these channels.
With EFT, we recall negative past events while tapping on certain meridian points and talking through the event or limiting belief.
In this way, both the physical response of the limbic system and the phycological aspect of the mind begin the relax and refigure themselves. Our body is brought into a parasympathetic state as we recall the memory. Instead of the memory having the power to bring us into fight, flight or freeze mode, we feel safe and calm.
In essence, we’re able to severe the negative emotional connection and unblock our energy. The result is that when we recall traumatic memories they no longer register as traumatic and no longer cause us emotional distress. In addition, our limiting beliefs are shattered and no longer have the power to hold us back.
The science and history behind EFT
Developed by Gary Craig in the 1990’s, EFT was based on Craig’s interpretation of Thought Field Therapy (now called Energy Psychology) discovered by Dr. Roger Callahan. Craig refined Callahan’s work, simplifying it and making it more accessible.
EFT is more than just a placebo effect, it actually rewires the brain! Studies at Harvard Medical School have revealed that by stimulating meridian points, you can significantly reduce activity in the amygdala.
A study by Dr. Dawson Church, an expert in energy psychology, measured and compared the cortisol levels of 83 subjects before and after they received EFT therapy against people who had only done talk therapy. He found that the average cortisol levels among the EFT group were reduced by 24-50%, while those who had received talk therapy had no such reductions.
EFT is more than just a placebo effect, it actually rewires the brain!
Another study by Dr. Peta Stapleton, a psychologist in Queensland Australia, looked at EFT’s ability to control cravings and impact weight loss. In her study, 89 women aged 31-56 who were obese (as measured by their BMI’s) used tapping 15 minutes per day for 8 weeks. Without dieting or exercise, the average participant lost 16 pounds!
Even better, these results are shown to take place quickly and last indefinitely. The American Psychological Association reports that 18 randomized controlled trials were critically evaluated and shown to consistently demonstrate lasting positive effects in a relatively short amount of time.
Uh, heck yes, where do I sign up for this magical EFT stuff . . .
How to do EFT
The great thing about tapping is that it’s free, simple, and works quickly. Working with a trained EFT practitioner might be beneficial (especially if you have significant traumas), but it isn’t necessary to reap the benefits.
At this point, you’re either completely on board with me and excited to try this or still skeptical. The beauty of tapping is whether you think it actually works or not, it still does. At the very least, it will help to calm and relax you.
And what mama doesn’t need some relaxation??
The tapping points:
- Identify the memory, limiting belief or current problem you’re experiencing. Rate its emotional intensity from 1-10, with one being almost no negative emotional reaction and ten being very intense for you.
- Use a setup statement that goes, “Even though ___(I was abused/my friend moved away/kids made fun of me)___, I still deeply and completely love and accept myself” as you tap on the karate chop point (the fleshy part of the outer palm opposite the thumb).
- Say this 3 times while continuing to tap.
- Now move on to tapping the other points, starting with the inner eyebrow as you talk through your memories and feelings. For example, “It made me hate my body”, “I’m afraid of being abandoned again,” “I can’t really trust people anymore.” Try not to get hung up on the wording. This doesn’t have to be perfectly stated, just say whatever comes to mind.
- Tap through all the points several times until you feel yourself beginning to relax or even moving into a more positive frame of mind (a good way to gauge this is if you start to yawn!). Rate yourself again. Has the emotional intensity lowered?
- You can stop here or switch to positive statements such as, “I’m ready to love my body,” “I know that not everyone will abandon me,” “I’m open to the possibility of trusting people again,” while tapping through the points. Make sure to put your feelings into your own words, the effect will be deeper for you.
The goal is to eventually reach an intensity score of 0-2. This may require you to work through several rounds of tapping on your traumatic event, limiting belief and all the feelings they envoke.
The beauty of tapping is whether you think it actually works or not, it still does.
For the curious, my ACES score is 6 (if you have a score of 4 or more your risk of health problems is considered seriously increased). However, this score is not a sure-fire determinant of future health. The beauty of life is that we have a measure of control over how our genes (or our pasts) are expressed through the environments we create for ourselves.
Research shows that many physical, emotional and mental health issues are related to emotional stress and traumas. Stress creates chemical and energy imbalances that can even lead to disease.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! Releasing yourself from the chains of limiting beliefs opens up a world of possibilities to you. From overcoming addiction and phobias to being able to respond in more appropriate ways to stress to leaving behind a fear of failure and going for a dream or goal you never considered possible before (like this blog for instance – do you know how long I’ve wanted to blog? 7 years!).
It really does work!
For amazing free tapping meditations, check out The Tapping Solution.
What about you! Have you ever tried EFT?
Hi! I’m Liane, a self-proclaimed ‘scrunchy mom’ (as in semi-crunchy). I have a passion for all things natural, healthy and holistic. My aim is to inspire you on your healthy living journey by sharing simple, everyday habits that can transform your well-being and life.