photo by Wally Gobetz
Why it is hard to stay focused on one issue over time with Tapping/EFT?
I hear from clients all the time that they have a hard time staying focused on an issue that takes more than one session to knock out, or as they work on a issue for a long period they feel like they are not making any progress and lose their motivation for tapping. This something that happens to everyone who taps and it happens for a good reason.
One of the characteristics of a strong emotional response is the fact that it holds our attention to that response. We are so deep into the emotions we can’t see anything else. This can become a problem when it affects our ability to understand the healing process we are experiencing. When we don’t see the progress we are making because we are caught in the emotion it is easy for us to lose motivation because it feels like a waste of time. When this happens we often stop tapping.
Healing has ups and downs as we get better and better
One of my favorite analogies of healing is of a spring stretched at an upward direction on an angle. Imagine a long spring in front of you. It is stretched from the floor to the ceiling at a 45 degree angle. Imagine that it is going from the lower left to the upper right.
If we trace the spring we are going to be going up and down with each spiral of the spring, but as we move along it we will move in an upward direction over the long haul.
This is similar to our experience of healing. As we are tapping on our issues we are slowly moving upwards, but there will be daily up and down moments.
The difficulty comes when we are having a down moment. The problem is not that we are down, but when we are down we are so completely caught in the down emotion that we lose sight of the progress we’re making. We forget everything we’ve achieved on the way to that point.
It really helps to have someone pointing out that we really are making progress, that we are continuing to move in an overall upward direction (tracing the full length of the spring), even though there are small ups and downs along the way (tracing each spiral).
This doesn’t negate or explain away the negative emotion we are feeling in the moment, but it does give us some perspective. Healing seems more attainable when we have this perspective.
Almost without exception when I’m working with a client over six weeks I expect that I’ll need to point out that they really have made a great deal of progress, even though they can’t feel it right now. It is natural and common to be caught up in where we are in this moment.
This is one of the reasons we bring our problems to loved ones and professionals alike. Both help us to see the long view and the progress we are making. Not only is it helpful for us to have someone remind us of the long view when we are down, it can also be helpful to have someone show us the long view when we are up.
What the healing process with tapping looks like over time and how we don’t see it in ourselves
I was touching base with one of my clients, “Debbie,” recently. She was telling me about a phone conversation she had just had with her sister. The context for the conversation is Debbie’s mom has suffered an on-and-off battle with cancer for years. For the last few months she has been in and out of the hospital. Debbie’s sister is currently pregnant with twins.
Debbie’s sister called and started screaming and yelling at Debbie and in such a ferocious way that Debbie couldn’t understand a word she was saying. Debbie calmly explained this to her sister, saying that she was sorry her sister was so mad at her, but Debbie was happy with the choices she had made. She offered her sister a chance to have a reasonable conversation about what had transpired, but it was not acceptable for her to be spoken to in that way. Her sister hung up!
It was quite amazing that she had responded so calmly, but it was even more amazing considering her history. I’ve worked with Debbie on and off for over eighteen months. When I first met her she would have flown off the handle if her sister had spoken to her in that way. Then she would have cried. Then she would have called a friend and cried to her friend. Then she would have felt bad for burdening her friend with her issues.
All of those responses would have been reasonable. When we are attacked, especially by a loved one during a trying family time, it’s reasonable for us to fight back. Instead, Debbie was able to see through the situation and identify what was really going on.
She saw that her sister might be over-emotional because of her pregnancy and their mother’s illness. She saw that it might not have anything to do with what she had done, but this was the place her sister was choosing to lash out. She realized that she was happy with the choice she had made that her sister was reacting to and wasn’t going to change her decision.
Debbie was able to react in this way because she was much more comfortable in her own skin. Eighteen months ago she would have taken the attack personally. Her fragile self-esteem would have been bruised by the experience. She would have responded in anger, which is the body’s way of protecting from an attack.
This is not to say that Debbie shouldn’t protect herself, or that responding in anger is always bad. In this situation Debbie identified the situation for what it was, understanding that she wasn’t IN FACT being attacked but was the chosen recipient for some misguided rage.
What’s most amazing about this is that Debbie didn’t even realize she was responding differently from how she would have done in the past. As her sister was yelling at her she didn’t think, “I am choosing not to take this attack personally. I am going to be calm.” She was just calm. It was only when I pointed out to her that she had responded differently that she realized her own transformation.
We need help sometimes to see the change Tapping/EFT has provided
The reason the change wasn’t obvious to Debbie was because she was not making a new choice but she has changed how she sees herself. Between the work we have done together and the work she has done on her own, Debbie has transformed her understanding of her own worth.
Debbie is not “doing” anything differently. She is “being” someone different. Because she is comfortable in her own skin it is natural for her not to overreact to the attack, because there is no reason to attack.
It is just as important for us to recognize this type of transformation as it is to recognize that when we are down in the moment we are still moving up over the long-term. When we recognize this sort of transformation it does a few things for us. First, we can celebrate that we are doing better than before. Second, it encourages us to progress further.
Debbie’s experience is a perfect example of The Stages Awareness. I encourage you to read that article to help you see where you are on the path to healing, showing you that you are on the right path and what further steps can be taken.