photo by Lan Rasso
I was recently on a flight from LA to Chicago. For the last 45 minutes of the flight I ended up tapping with the woman seated next to me. I think there are a number of lessons that can be learned from this session.
Here is what happened and what I noticed:
How I got approached?
When I boarded the flight both of my seatmates were already seated. I was on the aisle. The woman in the middle seat, “Rachel”, didn’t even look up to make eye contact when I sat down. For most of the first three and half hours of the flight she slept and in the moments she was awake she didn’t say a single word to anyone.
When I left my seat to use the restroom I tossed my notebook on to my seat. The front of the notebook has the crest of the “National Guild of Hypnotists” on it and I noticed that Rachel read it when it hit the seat.
When I returned to my seat she asked, “Are you a hypnotist?” I told her I was and she asked if I could use hypnosis to get people to stop smoking. I told her that I had done lots of work with smoking issues in the past. She asked, “Can you hypnotize me right now so I can stop smoking?”
Lesson 1: Rachel was obviously very serious about quitting smoking. She wanted change right away and was willing to try something that many might find embarrassing (being hypnotized) in a public place. When we encounter people who want change this desperately we don’t need to spend a great deal of time trying to convince them that we can help them. If they are ready to go, we should be ready to go. Don’t waste time, just cut to the chase.
Lesson 2: The reason that I carry around my National Guild of Hypnotists’ notebook is because I know it is a conversation starter. Most people don’t know about tapping, but they do know about hypnosis. By doing this I easily open up the possibility of talking about health and healing which is a great way to open the door to a tapping conversation without running the person over (which I was once known to do from time-to-time in my excitement about tapping).
What she knew?
I told her that this wasn’t the ideal situation to hypnotize someone. It would be possible, but there was a much easier way for us to create change. I told her there was this odd tapping thing we could do.
She said, “Oh yeah, my mom does that and she has tried to get me to do it in the past.” She then demonstrated tapping on a number the tapping points.
I simply asked if she wanted to give it a try and she readily agreed.
Lesson 3: Early in my practice I would have spent a lot of time explaining how tapping works, what points we needed to use, and what to expect. Rachel didn’t need to know any of these things. She was ready to go.
I have found that when I explain too much I sometimes talk people out of tapping. She didn’t need any more information, explanation, or proof. If she had questions she would have asked. It was time to work.
What might have felt unsafe?
Obviously this was not like my normal client sessions. Instead of being in the comfort of my office, or working over the phone with a client who is in familiar surroundings, we were in a very public place. As many as 15 people could have very easily overheard our conversation if they wanted to listen in. Also, because I had no history with Rachel, no intake information, and no rapport built, I knew that I needed to tread gingerly.
It was obvious she was very motivated to do work, but I didn’t want to put her in an uncomfortable position of saying something that might make her feel unsafe with me or in this public place. As much as I would have liked to have done some regression work to get back to early memories that were at the root of the issue, I needed to make sure that I kept her comfortable and safe. Also, I didn’t want to put her off tapping. If she had an uncomfortable experience then she might not come back to it ever again.
Lesson 4: It is very important that we understand where our clients are emotionally and what is safe and healthy for them. This does not mean that I don’t challenge or push my clients to go beyond their comfort zone, but neither does it mean that I have permission to run them over with my agenda. Sometimes success in a tapping session can be judged in the client’s willingness to tap again in the future on the issue.
What did she notice?
To start with I had Rachel tune into the sense of craving. For someone who normally smokes a cigarette every 15 minutes it was easy to find the craving after being on the flight for over three hours.
Once she was tuned into the craving I had her spend a few moments offering a little thanksgiving for the craving. The craving itself wasn’t good for her, but there was a reason the craving was there.
I had her tap on the fact that “Even though I can’t see why the craving is helping…and I know the smoking isn’t good for me…there is a reason my system has the craving…and the system thinks it has a good reason for this craving…I am glad the system is trying to care for me in this way…even if I don’t like the way it is doing it.”
I then asked her how the craving felt. Rachel reported that it was a little calmer and she felt much less frustrated with the fact that she was craving cigarettes. I then had her ask of the craving sensation “Now that you recognize that it might be trying to help you, why is it trying to help you?”
She said it was like comfort food.
I then had her ask it, “In what way is this craving trying to comfort you?” She said it was to stop the anxiety.
Lesson 5: Often it is a revelation to clients that there could be a logical reason for their issue. This does not mean it is a beneficial reason for the issue, but just one that might make sense for a particular point of view. Once we are able to recognize this fact it makes it possible for us to cease fighting with the issue. When we see the issue is trying to work for us it is much easier to gather information that might be helpful in the healing process.
The Solar Plexus
Once we had tuned into the fact that the smoking was creating a sense of comfort from anxiety I had Rachel tune into where that anxiety lived. She said, “Here in my stomach” and pointed. She didn’t point to her stomach, but to her solar plexus.
- Lesson 6: It is important that we understand what a client means, not what they say. Most of our clients don’t normally talk about their emotions or their physical bodies and because of this they have a tendency to be imprecise in the language they use to describe what they are dealing with. It is really good as a practitioner to keep asking, “What I think you said is… Am I right about that?” In this case I didn’t need to do that because Rachel’s physical gesture provided the accurate information.
The Color Yellow
Once Rachel had let me know that the emotion was referencing her solar plexus I had her tune into that space and to imagine the color yellow filling the space. Often when an issue locates itself in the solar plexus it has a lot to do with self esteem issues and this is the location of the third chakra which is associated with the color yellow.
I had Rachel tap until she felt the space had enough yellow. When she reported there was enough yellow for now she also said that she was feeling much calmer.
- Lessons 7: There are two things going on in this step. First, I am drawing on years of experience when it comes to issues of craving and self esteem. If this were a normal client session I would have asked more questions and wouldn’t have made the assumption so rapidly that yellow was the right way to go. But in this case since time was limited I decided to go with my experience and instinct, but as I did this I kept checking in to see that this was the appropriate approach. If it wasn’t I would quickly have changed direction.
Lessons 8: You will notice that I didn’t bring up what I thought the issue was. I simply had her bring some yellow into the space. It was still early in the session. We had just met and she was still getting comfortable with working with me. If all of a sudden I revealed that I thought her smoking was because of self-esteem issues it might have shut her down right way.
She did not ask for help with her self-esteem. She asked for help with her smoking. It might have been a little disconcerting to have a total stranger begin to start talking about an issue she had not mentioned. It is OK not to reveal everything you think about an issue. You might create problems for your client in moving forward, or you might be wrong, making it harder for your client to trust you.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
For the next twenty minutes I had her imagine smoking again and again. First, I had her just think about a cigarette. Once we tapped away all the symptoms and emotions I had her do it again. Each time she thought of smoking I had her think about smoking a little more and a little more such as adding lighting the cigarette and taking a drag. I had her imagine she was walking off the flight and going to smoking lounge. I had her imagine the smell of the smoke coming from the lounge and seeing the other smokers.
Each time we added a new detail I would get Rachel to tune into the emotions and physical sensations again. We would tap on what was happening until it was gone and repeated the process.
- Lesson 9: Most tappers know this, but it is important to stress going back to an issue repeatedly. Just because you get something to a 0 on the SUD scale does not mean you have finished. Keep testing again and again.
“I don’t believe you!”
The process of repeating again and again can get a little boring for a client. It can be frustrating to see the same symptoms continue to pop up. From my point of view I could see we were making progress because it was taking longer and longer with each image before the symptoms would appear, but to the client it could look very much the same: think of smoking and feel a craving.
I could tell Rachel was starting to get bored with the process. When I asked her to tune in one more time and asked her if she noticed the craving she said, “No”, but right before she said it she did something interesting: she licked her lips. It was a physical sign that the craving was coming up.
So I simply said, “I don’t believe you. What symptoms do you notice now?” She laughed and shared what she was feeling.
- Lesson 10: It is OK not to believe what a client is saying. You will notice that I didn’t say, “I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!” When I said it I looked her straight in the eyes with a big smile on my face. She knew I wasn’t being accusatory, but being gentle in wanting her to be better. It is good to challenge you clients in gentle ways where you are showing them you want what is best for them.
“What if I smoke a cigarette today…does that mean I failed?”
After doing 45 minutes of work she had made some great progress. We weren’t finished, but considering the magnitude of the work and the very public setting, we had done some amazing work. As we walked off the flight I asked her how she was doing.
She said, “I feel great. Normally after a long flight like this I would be in a cold sweat. But I have one question. If I smoke a cigarette later today does it mean I have failed?”
I explained, “No, you would not have failed!” and we then had a longer conversation about how the chemicals from the cigarettes were working as a way of taking the edge off of her emotional state. More work might be needed, but she now has a tool to deal with the cravings when they come up. I reassured her that even if she only remembers to tap for one out of every four cigarettes then she would be smoking 12 to 16 less cigarettes a day. That is huge.
- Lesson 11: Our clients want so badly to be successful. When someone comes to me for help with cigarettes it is because they have already tried everything in the world. I am normally a last ditch effort. Because of this there are already lots of emotions around feeling like a failure in the past. Addiction can be really hard emotionally because we hate the feeling of not having control of our actions. Also, if I really am a last ditch effort then there is the thought of “If this doesn’t work then I am stuck with this forever.”
In a normal client session I would have spent a little time tapping on “being easy with self” before we ended. I also would have done a few rounds of tapping on what we learned in the session to put her mind more at ease. We would have tapped on things like “I can now see why I crave cigarettes,” “I can see my system is really working for me even if it isn’t choosing the best way to do this,” “I now have a toolset to deal with the cravings when they come up,” and “It is OK if this work isn’t done all at once. I have time.”
Right before Rachel left the airport to meet her ride I gave her my email address and told her, “I have a number of scripts and audios that you can tap along to for smoking. If you send me an email I will send you all these resources.”
She smiled knowing that she had support in this and went on her way.
Lesson 12: The reason I helped Rachel was because she asked. I love sharing the good word about EFT, but I also didn’t want to miss this opportunity. Even though Rachel probably understands much less about EFT than most of my regular readers she knows a lot more about me. She knows about my working style and my personality. She also knows that I understand her and where she is coming from. As a professional practitioner this is a very valuable to me.
She might become a reader of my blog, she might refer a friend to me, she might become a client in the future, or I might never hear from her again. The act of offering her some free resources was intended to help her with no strings attached, but it could turn into something else. If we want to help more people and grow our practice we must be willing to reach out to people so they know how to find us in the future.