I was talking to one of my long term clients “Jesse” this week. She said, “Intellectually I get this, but I still can’t seem to make the change.”
What Jesse is experiencing is very common. The reason that most of us find our way to tapping is because understanding something intellectually often isn’t enough for us to change our behavior.
In thinking about the process that most of my clients have gone through (and what I have experienced in my personal work) I have realized there are 3 basic steps to making a lasting change in our lives.
This happens all the time. This is when we know exactly what change we want to make and why we haven’t been making the right choices in the past. For example we know intellectually that:
- It doesn’t need to be perfect. It only needs to be good enough.
- It doesn’t matter what my parents think about me looking for a new job.
- If I commit to just 30 minutes of exercise three times a week I’ll see an improvement in my fitness.
- Worrying continually about things I cannot change helps nobody.
Just because we understand something intellectually doesn’t mean that we will make new choices. Every single one of my clients who is a perfectionist knows they are a perfectionist, knows that it doesn’t serve them to be a perfectionist, and wants to change this about themselves.
Most of them can feel themselves being too much of a perfectionist even as they are acting on their perfectionistic tendency. They can be saying out loud, “I don’t need to do this perfectly” yet are still unable to stop themselves.
This is because on an emotional level there is a part that still believes it is dangerous to not be perfect.
Until there is an emotional understanding of the intellectual insight lasting change can’t take place.
This is the type of change that is most often missed and the thing that causes tappers the most frustration about the process.
It goes something like this: We have an emotional belief that we need to have everything just perfect, so every night before we go to bed we spend 45 minutes cleaning the house. We tap for the sense of perfectionism, aiming to get to a place where we know that the house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean every day…and we still spend 45 minutes cleaning before we can get to bed.
What has happened is part of our end of day routine is to clean for 45 minutes. It is no different than the habit of brushing our teeth before bed. It has become part of our muscle memory and so we do it even though the emotional motivation is gone.
This doesn’t just apply to our action. We also create habitual emotions and self-talk. For example, I might have the habit of asking “What did I do wrong?” every time something goes wrong even if I had nothing to do with it. I can tap to recognize that it is not always my fault, but questioning my responsibility can be a habit.
To make long term lasting change we need to change three things: our understanding, our emotional response, and our habitual response.
If you are looking for help with doing this the Ruach Center has tools, tapping scripts, and tapping audios to help with you with all three steps. If you don’t know how to do one of these steps for something you are trying to change in your life you should check it out.