Monday, December 29, 2014

If ...

I've always loved the first few lines of this poem. I think one of the most important things we can cultivate in our lives is self trust. It's only by trusting ourselves that we find out whether we are trustworthy. We then know who to put our trust in, because if our radar is sharpened by use we won't be blown about by different winds going in different directions, we'll know where we are going and where we want to go. The more you practise trusting your self, the more you strengthen that muscle. Self trust is the antidote for a lot of things: confusion, doubt, a feeling of unworthiness and so on. It grounds you so you know where you are and what you feel. It helps you to get clear. And we all need more clarity in our lives.

Monday, November 24, 2014

What do you do?

I was listening to a webinar with Peter Levine last week. He talked about a woman who had lost her twins at birth, they had been still born. She was in a catatonic state of immobility and was just staring into space with shock. She belonged to a tribe of about 26 people who performed a ritual every night for her when she left hospital. On the fourth night she responded by breaking down and sobbing and the entire tribe sobbed with her. That’s the importance of community, none of us are islands and resolving trauma is a hell of a lot easier when you have support. As Peter Levine said, “She was back”, she still had a lot of sorrow and grief but she was back.

That is the essence of trauma, losing a sense of who you are.  So what do you do if all you’ve known is trauma? Who are you then? What do you do when you don’t know who you are because you’ve never had the opportunity or the safety to find out?

Carolyn Spring’s book shows just how strong the human spirit can be even after suffering horrific ritual child abuse. It can be a long and arduous road to discovering who you really are, but it is possible with the help of some kind souls and your self. In fact, I’d say it’s essential to reveal your true self and be true to that self, even if sometimes it seems the price you’re paying is too high. The price won’t be as high as keeping it all inside.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a cloud be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
~ John Donne, No Man Is An Island

Monday, November 17, 2014

When you say no

In his book The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker writes that if you say No and people don't take your No seriously, you are being put on alert that they are trying to control you. This control can look like guilt mongering, scare mongering, manipulation or emotional blackmail. You name it, some people will try it and if that doesn't work, they might crank it up a notch and another notch and keep going until you don't know whether you're coming or going and you're all confused.

That's why it's so important for you to get clarity about what you will and will not accept. This is the only way you'll be able to trust yourself and any decisions/choices you need to make and create any boundaries you need to put in place. EFT short cut diagram.

The following phrases might help to start you off:

Even though people get angry at me when I don't do what they want me to do and that makes me feel ... I completely accept how I feel

Even if others pressure me I can still hold my ground and know who I am and what I want (look out for any tail enders/objections here)

Even though others try to make me feel guilty by doing/saying ... and that makes me feel ... I accept how I feel

Even though this bothers me because ... I accept my reasons

Even though I find it difficult to say no/set boundaries because ... (be very specific) I love and accept myself anyway

Even though I find it difficult to follow my own judgement/intuition because ... I accept myself anyway

Even though I question myself (because ...) and maybe others sense that and use it to their advantage, I choose to practice looking after myself 

It's ok to say No (watch for any objections here and tap on any that come up)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Putting the cart before the horse

When people talk about forgiving before they, or you, are ready, it's like putting the cart before the horse. There's a lot of talk about forgiveness in the spiritual movement but it can be yet another way to bypass how you really feel. Don't fake it if you don't really feel it. As my husband says lies have short legs, it doesn't work long term to lie either to yourself or others.

If you can't bring yourself to forgive, you'll end up feeling frustrated, guilty, ashamed and a lot of other things. You can't forgive until you process all of your hurts. You won't even need to forgive I think, because you'll be at a place of peace within yourself and you'll come to an acceptance of what happened or what is happening. That doesn't mean you like what happened or think that it is ok, and you have every right to feel that way, but it won't bother you any more when you have dissolved all the emotional charges. See EFT short cut here.

You couldn't relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole--like the world, or the person you loved ~ Stuart O'Nan

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I should be over this

I hear this all the time. So many of us feel that we should be over whatever it is because it happened so long ago or it wasn't that big a deal to begin with. But we feel what we feel. If it still bothers you that's enough for you to take it seriously enough to do something about it. And the thing we usually have to do to be over it is to FEEL it. The anger, the shame, the guilt, the feeling of being bad, whatever it is, feeling it helps us to move forward and heal the hurt.

Try saying:
It's ok that I have this ....
It's ok not to be over this ...
It's ok that this is still here ....
I can still love and accept myself if this ... never goes away

Are there any objections? Which sentence holds the most charge? That's where you could start tapping. You could also try tapping on the script below, making sure to customise it for you.

Even though I believe/think/feel I should be over ... I accept how I feel
Even though I'm still not over this ... and that makes me feel ... I accept how I feel
Even though this ... is still here and that makes me feel ... I accept myself anyway

Top of the head: I should be over ...
Eyebrow: Because ...
Side of eye: It's pathetic that this still bothers me
Under the eye: All these years later
Under the nose: It wasn't even that big a deal
Under the chin: If I compare it to ....
Collar bone: But that doesn't make me feel better
Under the arm: I just feel ashamed

Top of the head: That I'm not over ...
Eyebrow: I've never been able to feel ...
Side of eye: Maybe that's why it's still here
Under the eye: I have some unfinished business
Under the nose: It feels stuck
Under the chin: Because I haven't been able to face it
Collar bone: Or admit it
Under the arm: Or just feel it

Top of the head: It's ok to feel ...
Eyebrow: It's ok to feel frustrated that this is still here
Side of eye: It's ok to feel shame that I haven't gotten over it
Under the eye: All of my feelings are ok
Under the nose: They are just feelings
Under the chin: And it's ok to feel them all
Collar bone: Even if they feel difficult or painful
Under the arm: They're still my feelings

Some people think I should
be over my ex by now — maybe
I thought I might have been over him more
by now. Maybe I’m half over who he
was, but not who I thought he was, and not
over the wound, sudden deathblow
as if out of nowhere, though it came from the core
of our life together ~ Sharon Olds

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Love yourself enough

To tell yourself your secrets. What you really think. How you really feel. What you really want. Whoever you feel you have to lie to, don't lie to yourself. Tell yourself the truth and observe any pressure or stress you feel lessening.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

If I had just one word of good advice ...

I made a video a few years ago and don't know whether anyone really "got it".  It was an animation of just one word: feel.

I'm going to explain why I think feeling is so important. If trauma is unexperienced experience (Ivor Browne), then what helps us to experience anything? Yes, our feelings. We can't experience without feeling, it's just not possible. So, if dissociation, or not feeling, maintains trauma, what can help us resolve trauma? Yes, feeling can. That's how important feeling is to all of us. Feeling our feelings sounds simple but it is not always easy to feel the difficult stuff, that's where techniques like EFT can really help and in the hands of a good practitioner, ALL emotions will be welcomed so you can (re)learn to fully feel again.

The fuel of life is feeling. If we are not filled up in childhood, we must fill ourselves as adults. Otherwise we will find ourselves running on empty ~ Jonice Webb

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who is the healer?

There are many people who claim to be healers, the truth is we all are. We need only tap in to the power inherent in our bodies, minds and spirits and of course the abundance that the earth has to give us in the form of sunshine, good food, clean water and so on.

It is truly empowering to know that we play a huge role in our healing, though not the only role. That's why we need others, not because we can't go it alone but because most of us don't want to. The connection and love we give and receive nourishes us on a fundamental and essential level, babies can't survive or thrive without it and neither can adults. But that need for love does not make us powerless, it makes us vulnerable, but we often confuse the two.

The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all ~ Helen Keller

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

To reimprint or not to reimprint?

Peter Levine, who wrote Waking the Tiger and In An Unspoken Voice, states that trauma lies in the nervous system, not the event. This is a crucially important distinction, which has major implications for how we define trauma. At its essence, trauma can only ever truly be defined subjectively, there really is no such thing as an “objective” stressor. What will traumatise one person might not traumatise another because there are so many different variables involved. 

Defining trauma “objectively” like the PTSD criteria do in DSM-5, negates and minimises many sources and characteristics of trauma. For example, criterion A1 states that: The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows: (One required)
• Direct exposure.
• Witnessing, in person.
• Indirectly, by learning that a close relative or close friend was exposed to trauma. If the event involved actual or threatened death, it must have been violent or accidental.
• Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g. first responders, collecting body parts; professionals repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse). This does not include indirect non-professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures.

The fact that there is no specific mention of emotional trauma in A1, and the fact that criterion A2 was deleted from the fifth manual is very significant. A2 stated that “The person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror”. What the DSM-5 has essentially done, is state that our emotions aren’t important to trauma. This flies in the face of a huge body of research showing just how important emotions are to mental health. In fact, when you think about it, it is a ludicrous notion and move on their part.

Are there horrific events? Yes, there most certainly are. However, the way we respond to an event is more important than the event itself in terms of defining what is traumatic. In other words, trauma is a subjective, not an objective experience, and depends on many factors such as our age, available resources, our relationship to any perpetrator, feelings of helplessness, being/feeling trapped, fear, horror or betrayal and the length of time it continues. We exclude a large population of traumatised people by officially defining trauma in the way we do.

From all of this we can deduce that reimprinting the event or memory is not necessary, as it is not the source of our trauma. Changing the way we feel about the event will automatically change how we view and perceive the event. Changing how we feel will also change any conclusions that we came to about ourselves, others and life as a result of any events.

The severity of traumatic events cannot be measured on any dimension; simplistic efforts to quantify trauma ultimately lead to meaningless comparisons of horror (...) the salient characteristic of the traumatic event is its power to inspire helplessness and terror ~ Judith Herman

Herman, J. (1992, p. 24). Trauma and Recovery, Basic Books, New York.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The prevalence of birth trauma

Since I had a baby in 2012, I've become aware of just how prevalent birth trauma is. This is true the world over and it is certainly not any better in developed countries like Ireland and the US than it is in developing countries. In fact, you could say it's worse in developed countries because we should know better with the resources that we have available to us.

Many women are incorrectly diagnosed with postnatal depression when in fact they have been traumatised (with or without all the symptoms of PTSD). It's very important to realise that the only person who can definitively say you are traumatised is you. You are your own best advocate. Trauma is a very subjective thing and cannot be defined or diagnosed in a totally objective way. You know when you don't feel like yourself, you're not sleeping, you're often angry, fearful or in a rage and you're having all sorts of emotional and physical issues. No one person matches a diagnosis perfectly, and too many slip through the diagnostic net and don't get the help that they need. Having the label of being traumatised can be stigmatising, but the root of the word trauma means wound, and it is absolutely okay to say that you've been hurt and that you need help, you just need to find the right help for you.

I liken the way many obstetricians treat the emotional well being of women to someone like me completely negating the importance of their physical well being. For example, if a client comes to me and I put them in a chair with nails poking out and expect them to sit on it for an entire hour and say nothing, the room is freezing cold and they need to use the bathroom and there is none. They've also gotten wet because it has been raining and there is nowhere to hang up their coat and get dry and warm. Then I say to them, well you're here to deal with your emotional issues, so it doesn't really matter if you're extremely physically uncomfortable does it? Doesn't that sound ridiculous? Doesn't every good practitioner take into account of all their client's psychological and physical needs?

Many doctors (and obstetricians in particular) need to stop ignoring the huge body of psychological research that illustrates just how important our psychological and emotional health is and how it is greatly impacted by stress; any source of stress.

We need to stop blaming women for not “being stronger” not being able to “tune out the fear” not doing their hynobirthing correctly, not being positive enough, not being calm enough, not being anything enough. We are not islands, we all need support, and all the more so when we are vulnerable and pregnant and all pregnant women are vulnerable in some way. Many women would need a will of iron to not be affected by what has gone on during their pregnancies and births. And health care providers need to stop abdicating their responsibilities in these matters. They need to stop thinking along the lines of  “live mother, live baby”, if they even care about the mother that is, because that is the least of the outcomes that we all deserve as human beings. How we birth matters and how our babies are born matters, a lot.

Some useful sites

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What does emotional freedom mean?

It seems to me that many think that emotional freedom means freedom from emotions, especially the "negative" ones. I know from my own experience that emotional freedom means the freedom to feel anything and not feel guilty, ashamed, disloyal or bad for feeling that way. Emotions are there for a reason, they are there to be felt, not denied, disconnected from or shunned. Feeling our emotions keeps them flowing so they don't get stuck, blocked or trapped and cause problems.

One of the best ways to use EFT is to tap to be able to feel what you find difficult to feel. If you tap to "tap it away", you're missing the invitation (or lesson) to learn something valuable about yourself. We can't tap something away and then continue doing things in the way we've always done them. It doesn't work, at least not long term. We need to make changes, take a different path, or walk a path that feels more true to who we are. We have to do different to have different in other words.

We work with nutrition and exercise to increase our energy, but we ignore the richest source of energy we possess—our emotions ~ Karla McLaren

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Free flowing emotions

Emotions don't cause us issues when they're free flowing. It's only when they're blocked, trapped, unfelt, or dissociated from that we run into issues.

Illustration by Puja Kanth Alfred, a great friend and fantastic EFT practitioner

Very few of us are taught emotional literacy. Little to no emphasis is placed on understanding, welcoming and honouring emotions, especially the so-called "negative" emotions. I prefer to call them the difficult emotions, the emotions we need to learn how to handle in order to make our lives easier and more joyful. We need to discard the simplistic notion of "bad" and "good" emotions in my opinion, that idea just doesn't serve us. What happens is we avoid the "bad" ones and run after the "good" ones. All emotions serve us very well and we need them all. Life really would be less colourful and interesting without emotions, the whole gamut of them.

I highly recommend the book below by Karla McLaren, it is really excellent and has helped me to see emotions in a new light and work with them in a new way. Here is a sample of her take on fear.

Fear is not worry or anxiety, which jangle and nag at you when your instincts are in some way impaired (or when you’re ignoring them for some reason), nor is fear terror and panic, which take over when your instincts have been utterly overwhelmed. Free-flowing fear will make you intuitive, agile, balanced, and safe — not because you meekly tiptoe through life to avoid all possible dangers, but because you can trust yourself, your instincts, and your resourcefulness in each moment. If you’re generally capable, naturally intuitive, and focused, you’re actually already connected to your flowing fear (even though you may not think of yourself as fearful). All you need to do now is to name your fear as itself, welcome it, and thank it for all its help. Fear is not your enemy. In fact, it may well be the best friend you have ~ Karla Mc Laren, The Language of Emotions: What your feelings are trying to tell you

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

One of the biggest reasons EFT doesn't work

You need to be tuned in for EFT to work well. What that means is feeling the energetic charge on something (a memory, person, anything at all), and that can be painful. Because pain feels painful, we often avoid it.

So for EFT to work as well as it can, you need to be tuned in, to be feeling whatever it is as best as you can. This is why working with others can provide the safety and container that we need in order to be able to connect with our hurt. We often "won't go there" on our own.

We need others. We need others to love and we need to be loved by them. There is no doubt that without it, we too, like the infant left alone, would cease to grow, cease to develop, choose madness and even death ~ Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, July 24, 2014

You can start anywhere with EFT

The beauty of EFT is you can start tapping anywhere. If you feel for example that,
1. EFT is not working for you
2. You don’t know what to say while tapping
3. Things aren’t happening fast enough
4. You can’t tune in to what you’re feeling
5. You get overwhelmed by what you’re feeling
6. You hold beliefs such as “I’m unhelpable” or “I’m difficult or a special case”

You can start by tapping on all the points with (You can include the set up or not, try it without and see does the issue shift, if it doesn’t, try it with the set up. Not making any shifts can mean you have unconscious blocks to getting better, for the moment you don’t have to figure out why, or you can always decide to work with a practitioner who can help you tease them out):

I don’t feel EFT is working for me 
I don’t know what to say (try tapping on how you feel, or how you know you have an issue, if you find it too difficult to say something)
I don’t feel things are happening fast enough and that makes feel … and that makes me feel about myself ….
I can’t tune in to what I’m feeling
I’m overwhelmed by all this
I am/feel unhelpable
I am/feel difficult
I don't know where to start

Another great advantage to working with EFT is that it nearly always leads you to where you want/need to go, just by beginning to tap. There’s a stream of consciousness that follows tapping and issues will daisy chain together with all the seemingly different associations and connections so we can make sense of it all. Again, if aspects feel overwhelming, we can seek the help of a practitioner or a tapping buddy.

In that respect, EFT is very similar in process to EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing). In her book, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR): Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures, Francine Shapiro talks of a client who did EMDR for freezing on stage. Throughout the session she was asked what body sensations she felt. At one stage, she felt a strange sensation in her back, and it unfolded that she had been molested by her uncle. He had held her down on that spot. The association between the two incidents was her ‘performing’, even though on the surface, the issues did not seem related at all and she had completely forgotten about the abuse.

A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step ~ Lao-tzu

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Why you can't just bypass your feelings

Well, you can, but you pay the price. What you don't (or can't because you're too young or don't have the resources) feel catches up with you eventually.

This is actually a good thing, because it makes you take whatever it is that is hurting you, seriously. It makes you take your feelings seriously and what happened to you seriously, no matter what anyone else says. It usually catches up with us in the form of symptoms, whether they be physical, mental or otherwise. These symptoms, frustrating and excruciating as they may be, are the witnesses and testimonies to our hurts.

If you take a look at the majority of theories and treatments for trauma, they have one common theme: and that is to feel, metabolise, digest or experience what has been, or still is, unbearable. It really is quite simple. But not so simple to do. Because one of the things that we are most afraid of is our feelings. And our emotions/feelings are the only way we can digest the unbearable, whatever technique or tool we use. That is how important they are.

When it comes to being specific, there is no greater gift to give ourselves than to be specific about what we feel, and then to feel those emotions. That is how trauma gets digested and becomes experienced instead of remaining unexperienced or frozen. EFT only works when we tune in to how we feel. We can get lost in our stories and beliefs, and while they are important, we can sometimes bypass how we feel in the telling. Nothing has the power to hurt us, unless we feel it is true. And why do we think it is true, because we feel it, inside. That is what we need to connect with and be specific about. Feelings, or more specifically, feeling our feelings is our pathway towards resolving trauma and healing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

When there's no place to call home

The earliest sense of being at home, or not, is when we're in our mother's womb. A home is where we feel safe, loved and comforted. It's not a place (though having shelter helps), it's an experience.

When we've experienced early trauma at the hands of our caregivers, we lose our sense of home. If the very people that are supposed to protect us, are instead the perpetrators of abuse, we won't feel safe. And if our body is where we feel the pain of not being loved or wanted, we won't inhabit it very often, if at all. We'll dissociate from our emotions and feelings (and therefore our body and its sensations) as often as we need to. This is why it is imperative to include the body in any serious form of healing. Our body is where we get in touch with, and heal, our pain. Can we truly feel anything without being embodied? When we can fully inhabit our bodies, we'll feel at home, safe in our own home.

There's no place like home ~ Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

EFT and Dissociation

Dissociation is the mechanism by which our wounds (traumas) are survivable. It's also the mechanism by which trauma is maintained and continues, you cannot be traumatised and not be dissociated in some way. They go hand in hand. And we are, all of us, somewhere along this spectrum. Dissociation is an ingenious solution in order to be able to withstand the unbearable.

However, it costs us in the long run to stay dissociated. As the famous passage goes:

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

If we don't willingly bring our hurts forth, life will do it for us. In all sorts of ways and with all sorts of conditions and symptoms. Knowing this will completely change how we respond to problems. At least some of the time. We'll have more compassion and kindness for ourself, and when we can't, that's more than ok too. It's about accepting it all. You literally can tap on anything.

This is why when we tap, or do any work, our intention is so important. Wanting to get rid of it, just doesn't work. You have to tap for the courage to help you through whatever it is.

Trauma is unexperienced experience ~ Ivor Browne

Monday, May 12, 2014

The magic wand

We'd all love a magic wand or pill sometimes. If you have unresolved issues that are causing you any sort of pain (physical or emotional), you'll most likely want to be able to sweep it all away, especially if it's been going on for years.

The thing is, there is no magic pill. Wanting desperately to have something gone, while completely understandable, can turn us into headless chickens with no direction. As a line in a U2 song goes "Desperation is a tender trap, it gets you every time". Or we'll go in lots of different directions, frantically trying out anything and everything to take the pain away. But this is like putting a plaster on a deeper wound. Sometimes the plaster looks really pretty and "positive" and we feel good for a while, but the issue usually comes back. And if that keeps happening, it becomes even more frustrating and can lead to beliefs like "I can't be helped", "There's something wrong with me", "It's just too hard". The real truth is, you're stuck in what Peter Levine calls a "positive feedback loop".

Don't be misguided by the term "positive" here, because it's anything but. It's a closed loop, or merry go round, that feels like you can't get off (but you can), which is frustrating at best, and retraumatising at worst. A negative feedback loop on the other hand is open like a river, so you can move forward instead of staying stuck.

I know of no other way except to go through trauma, whatever tool or technique we use to facilitate that. The self trust, strength, esteem and confidence that is created when we resolve, not just plaster over, trauma is authentic and lasts.

The best way out is always through ~ Robert Frost

Monday, April 28, 2014

Our bodies bear the burden

This is an excerpt from the forward of Robert Scaer's book The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease by Bessel van der Kolk:

"When people develop PTSD, the replaying of the trauma leads to sensitization: with every replay of the trauma there is an increasing level of distress. In those individuals, the traumatic event, which started out as a social and interpersonal process, develops secondary biological consequences that are hard to reverse once they become entrenched. Because these patients have intolerable sensations and feelings, their tendency is to actively avoid them. Mentally, they split off or “dissociate” these feelings; physically, their bodies tighten and brace against them. They seem to live under the assumption that if they feel those sensations and feelings, they will overwhelm them forever. These are patients who rely on medications, drugs, and alcohol to make these sensations and feelings go away, because they have lost confidence that they can learn to tolerate them without outside help. The fear of being consumed by these “terrible” feelings leads them to believe that only not feeling them will make them go away".

There is no way around trauma except through it. If we're at our wit's end, it's hard to be there for ourself, which is why the support of others in helping us through it, is crucial. This is also the reason why children who suffer trauma at the hands of their care givers are deeply traumatised. (You can read more on betrayal trauma from Jennifer Freyd).

Try tapping on the following phrases:

I'm tapping to help me through this

I'm tapping for the courage to be able to feel ...

Even though it's excruciating to feel ... I'm willing to feel 10% of it

My body bears the burden of ...

Even though I rationalise things away, my body tells a different story

I feel ... about my body and its symptoms

Even though I want to be over this, my body isn't and that makes me feel ...

If it ever occurs to people to value the honour of the mind equally with the honour of the body, we shall get a social revolution of a quite unparalleled sort ~ Dorothy L Sayers

Monday, April 14, 2014

Let your body do the talking

If you ever find yourself rationalising how you feel, or minimising things, you only have to listen to your body to hear the truth. Our body never lies. How many books have this same title? Our body tells our story for us through symptoms. Though this can be frustrating, as in the symptoms might not have gone away or might even be intensifying, it can also be a way to have our experiences validated.

We all need validation and if it is not forthcoming from other human beings, we can listen to our body instead, our body validates our experiences, it helps us take whatever it is, seriously.

 We might be sick of talking, we might not know the "right" words to tap on, we might feel we're going around in circles, so letting our body do the talking, as in tapping while tuning into physical sensations and feelings can be really helpful. It's much easier to do this when we're tapping on our own for example, as it helps keep us on track as all we have to do is tune into our body. At the same time this can be very painful, so take it easy and tap with someone else if you find yourself getting overwhelmed.

My belief is in the blood and flesh as being wiser than the intellect. The body-unconscious is where life bubbles up in us. It is how we know that we are alive, alive to the depths of our souls and in touch somewhere with the vivid reaches of the cosmos ~ D. H. Lawrence

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Why your intention when you tap is so important

The reason why you tap (or do any work) is really important. While it's natural to want to move away from anything that is painful or uncomfortable, it can often be a short term solution, a plaster on a deeper wound.

In my experience if you tap to get rid of something, or want to tap it away, there is a sense of desperation and panic about what it is you want to go. This often has the effect of just making us more frustrated while doing nothing (at least nothing permanent) to resolve the issue. If you tap instead to help you through whatever it is, it has an entirely different effect on the issue. It often feels very empowering and gives you a lot of confidence in what you can handle.

This is especially true when it comes to things you can control, such as your feelings and sensations, rather than anything to do with anyone else. Being able to sit with and feel difficult feelings and sensations is one of the best gifts we can give ourself. It makes a huge difference. It increases our resiliency no end, and when we've come through whatever it is, we're stronger, more empowered and less afraid.

So tap to help you through it, not to push it away or the many other ways we avoid our pain and hurt.

The following phrases can be really good to tap on:

Even if this ... never goes away and that makes me feel, I can accept how I feel about that

I can still love and accept myself even if this ... stays

I can give whatever it is permission to stay ...

You'll find that there will usually be a lot of tail enders (objections) with the phrases above which can provide you with great material to tap on.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I acknowledge that this is here

If you can't bring yourself to accept something try tapping on acknowledging it's there, whatever the "it" is for you. By acknowledging something, you're not trying to change it or make it more positive or  negative. In my experience acknowledging something and tapping on that acknowledgement is very powerful.

For example, do a few rounds on:

I acknowledge this tightness in my lower intestines and how I feel about it

I acknowledge my dislike of "X"

I acknowledge my anger

I acknowledge the fact that I don't want ....

I acknowledge my reasons for ...

I acknowledge how my body feels (be specific)

Our feelings and our bodies are like water
flowing into water. We learn to swim
within the energies of the senses.
~ Tarthang Tulku

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I feel threatened by ...

When we internalise a threat, trauma nearly always results. You might not call it being traumatised, you might call it stress, but no matter what you call it, you are going to be in either flight/fight or freeze mode when your sense of this threat is triggered. This can really take its toll on our physical and psychological health. Our experience of feeling/being threatened can worsen over time if the threat cannot be defused.

Try filling in the blank in the sentence below. Keep going until you feel you have written down everything you feel threatened by and start tapping on the one that holds the biggest charge for you right now. Go through your list at your own pace.

I feel threatened by ...

I think the thumb print on the throat of many people is childhood trauma that goes unprocessed and unrecognised ~ Tom Hooper

Thursday, February 13, 2014

When you've had enough

If you've reached the end of your tether, you might not feel like tapping, you might not feel like doing anything, you're that browned off and exhausted. But if you can bring yourself to tap, see if the following helps.

Even though I'm absolutely exhausted and feel like I can't go on anymore, I accept how I feel

Even though it's really difficult to accept these feelings and I know I'm not supposed to resist them but they're too bloody painful! I accept how I feel about them

Even though I've had enough, I'm done, through (whatever else describes how you feel), I accept that too

Top of the head: I'm totally exhausted
Eyebrow: By everything
Side of the eye: Nothing ever seems to work for me
Under the eye: And that makes me feel ...
Under the nose: I've hardly any energy left
Under the mouth/chin: I don't know why I'm even tapping
Collar bone: It never works for me
Under the arm: Nothing ever does (note the beliefs that surface when you're really stressed, this is how you truly feel and it's great material for tapping on)

Top of the head: I'm pissed off
Eyebrow: I'm totally pissed off
Side of the eye: I'm not pretending anymore
Under the eye: It's exhausting to pretend
Under the nose: Everything is okay
Under the mouth/chin: When it's not
Collar bone: I feel ...
Under the arm: And that feels ...

Top of the head: I can let myself off the hook (watch out for tailenders/objections)
Eyebrow: And do something that doesn't take so much effort
Side of the eye: Like going for a walk
Under the eye: To clear my mind
Under the nose: And breathe
Under the mouth/chin: I feel ...
Collar bone: And that feels ...
Under the arm: I choose to let off steam more often

Top of the head: So I don't get so overwhelmed
Eyebrow: I choose to heed the signs that stress is building
Side of the eye: And do something about it, however small
Under the eye: I deserve that (any tailenders/objections?)
Under the nose: I give myself permission to take a break from everything and everyone
Under the mouth/chin: I feel ...
Collar bone: And that feels ...
Under the arm: I acknowledge and honour how I feel

I was a little excited but mostly blorft. "Blorft" is an adjective I just made up that means 'Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.' I have been blorft every day for the past seven years ~ Tina Fey

Monday, February 03, 2014

The heart of the matter

Anxiety, stress and trauma are closely linked to the heart. Have you ever heard of a couple who have been married for years, one dies and the other soon follows? I heard a very sad story a few weeks ago. A 45 year old woman died of cancer and a few weeks later her husband had a heart attack and also died.

The word trauma means wound in Greek, and that's what being traumatised really means; to be hurt or wounded. That's why for me there is no such thing as a small or big trauma, you either feel traumatised or you don't, feeling traumatised can only ever be truly 'measured' subjectively.

Silvia Hartmann has really great exercises for anxiety and stress that utilise the power of the heart and Bellruth Naparstek has a really excellent guided visualisation for healing trauma that helps us explore our broken hearts. It might sound cheesy or corny, but think of it. A little child whose parent has betrayed their goodness and innocence, is that not akin to having had their hearts broken?

Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us ~ David Richo

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A culture of bullying in Ireland

This is a subject I am really passionate about. Unfortunately, there is a strong culture of bullying in Ireland. This is true for both children and adults. I have heard so many stories of children being bullied in school and when parents try to do something about it, they are bullied into keeping quiet and not rocking the boat. I have been bullied many times in my life, both as a child and adult.

When Aja Teehan took a case to the high court in order to secure the right to be individually assessed for the right to have a home birth, what did the Irish government do? They sought costs against her saying there was no issue of public interest in the case she had brought. Is this a bad joke? The right for a woman to make a decision on where and how she gives birth is not a matter of public interest??

In addition, the Irish state has recently urged the high court to seek costs against TD Joan Collins. She courageously, and behalf of all people living in Ireland, questioned the legality of the promissory notes for Anglo Irish Bank at a cost of 31 billion euro to the Irish state. In my view, by seeking costs in these cases, the Irish state is sending out a message to try and frighten people into not questioning the system. Bully boy tactics, plain and simple. The message is don't stand up for your rights, don't question the system or try to better it or make it more honest, equitable and accountable. Accept the fact that billions of our money has gone into bailing out banks and bondholders while our rights to autonomy are being trampled on, while our pay is cut again and again, while taxes and charges rise or are newly invented, while gas and electricity costs become prohibitive for the average family in mortgage arrears. It is an absolute disgrace what is happening in Ireland today.

Why don't Irish people stand up and say no to all the cuts, tax hikes, extra charges, jobs being lost, the scandals with various different organisations and on and on and on? The Irish government, by their own actions, do not have the best interests of people living in Ireland at heart.

I'm interested in why we put up with it. Why are we so obedient? Why is it so difficult for Irish people to stand up for themselves? It is most definitely a cultural issue and it can be changed. What are we really afraid of? What is the worst that can happen? These are the sort of questions that we need to ask ourselves when we come up against these challenges. We can tap for the strength and the courage to do what we know is right. Making a decision out of fear doesn't serve us in the long run. Taking back your power is one of the most healing things you can do. I believe it is essential, both as individuals, and collectively, it is the only way we can really change things, for the better.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The many ways of being specific

If you are specific when using EFT you'll see results faster than if you tap globally. However, many times there are no specific details to recall because we were too young and the memory is implicit rather than explicit. Or maybe we didn't experience the event fully because we dissociated from it as it was too painful so the details are hazy. However, we know what we know, or more aptly, we feel what we feel, our body never lies.

My recent thesis discussed the link between tonic immobility, dissociation and trauma. Tonic immobility (more commonly known as the freeze response) is somatoform dissociation while peritraumatic dissociation is psychoform dissociation. Just as we can't separate the mind from the body, my hypothesis is that we cannot separate tonic immobility from peritraumatic dissociation, they are one and the same phenomenon. And their parent, so to speak, is dissociation.

This is why being specific when we tap can take different forms. If you are suffering from chronic physical issues for example, you can tap on how they show up in your body. And you can be really specific about how it shows up in your body and how the symptoms change, worsen or get better depending on how you feel, external circumstances and so on. For example, you can say: Even though the pain in my right top shoulder is dull, red and throbbing and it makes me feel totally and utterly frustrated and … I accept myself anyway. Tapping on how you feel about any physical pain also helps you be really specific as it is very difficult not to have an emotional response to pain.

Tapping on our body's symptoms is very powerful and is another way to be really specific. Our bodies really do speak our minds, and listening to and tapping on any symptoms can lead us to their cause.

There is a force within that gives you life 
Seek that. 
In your body there lies a priceless jewel 
Seek that. 
Oh, wandering Sufi, 
If you are in search of the greatest treasure, 
Don't look outside, 
Look within, and seek that. 
 ~ Rumi

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A part of me

The importance of saying "a part of me" was impressed upon me after reading The Good Psychologist by Noam Schpancer (a great book, well worth reading). We tend to say "I feel angry" or "I feel anxious". Meaning that the whole of us is feeling this way. While it certainly might feel like this, the truth is, if you can observe yourself feeling a certain way, who is the part of you that is able to observe the anxiety, anger or whatever it is? Does that part feel the same way?

I think being precise in what we mean and using language that reflects that is very powerful. When we say "a part of me feels anxious", the anxiety doesn't feel so overwhelming or insurmountable. Saying "a part of me" instead of "the whole of me" (as in I feel ...) gives us much needed hope that we are not consumed by difficult emotions and experiences. The part of us that is able to witness and observe is the part that can help us to heal by showing us that we have a way out of hurt and trauma.

The next time you tap, try saying "a part of me" and see what happens!

Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it ~
René Descartes

Monday, January 06, 2014

50% off

I am offering a 50% discount on sessions for the month of January, please see my website for my contact details

The beginning is always today ~ Mary Shelley