For some people, EFT is easy: as they tap, memories, sensations, emotions come up that they just need to follow to unravel the thread that leads to resolution and, ultimately, growth. For others, nothing comes up during the tapping process and without the help of another person, close friend or therapist, to point them to their dark places or dead angles, no progress is made. I belong to the second category, and since I practice EFT on my own, that can be kind of a problem. Until recently I didn’t know what to do when I reached a dead end. Now I found two great allies in my quest for emotional freedom: dreams and negative emotions.
Today I was able to harness their power and to let all the different threads that were separated come together and lead me to all kinds of inner places that needed healing. Here is the story of this journey.
1. How dreams came into play
Inspired by the ties my intuitive friends have with the dream realm and by my discovery of Judith Orloff’s work (Awakening Second Sight and Emotional Freedom), I decided recently to ask that my dreams answer one single question – a different one every night – before going to bed. Last night the question was, “Show me what I most need to know about my future.” Since in the past I seemed to obtain relevant answers, I was puzzled when, in the morning, I woke up to the uncomfortable feelings still clinging to shreds of a dream about my ex-boyfriend. I didn’t really succeed in shaking off the discomfort, even though I tapped on it, probably because there was more to be learned from the dream than what I could perceive at first.
2. Following the negative emotions
Relationships are the gift that keeps on giving, even when they’ve been over for a long time (nearly one year in my case), they still challenge and push you beyond your limits. They also offer opportunities for insights, and this one was no exception. Years ago, my then-boyfriend was complaining about the indecisiveness of my parents, which flabbergasted me. Here was this adult complaining that my parents were unable to make a decision when it was inappropriate to make one – we didn’t have all the information necessary – and when he was the most indecisive person I had ever met, changing his opinion constantly, and being utterly unaware of it… The epitome of a weathercock! That’s when I realized – a physical and emotional realization that shook my bones – that what we complain about in others is precisely what we don’t like – consciously or not – about ourselves.
Remembering my ex-boyfriend and this episode, I asked myself if there was anything I had been repeatedly complaining about recently and that for some reason I had overlooked.
3. Facebook and my step-daughter
I did find something. I had been complaining about it privately to my husband and my step-daughter, and publicly on Facebook, which in turn snowballed into numerous reactions from people. If you’re wondering what this thing is, here is how I described it on Facebook: “I have a weird and intense mix of pity/commiseration/agitation/sadness/annoyance when I spot someone who doesn’t know that the big, loose cross-stitches shutting closed the bottom of flaps on newly-bought garments are meant to be removed. Just rip ‘em off! It’s the biggest fashion faux-pas since the invention of ready-to-wear clothing and makes you look the opposite of the easy-yet-classy person you were trying to project, I promise.”
So here I had been, complaining repeatedly about something most people would consider a non-issue, being all judgemental and intolerant, not even able to hold it in in front of my poor six year-old step-daughter who now thinks I’m a fashion Nazi.
4. The core issue
So according to my own theory, my criticizing strangers or friends alike for their lack of fashion sense should mean that I’m really complaining about my own fashion shortcomings. And this is when it hit me… Of course, I had a bad sense of fashion! I was beaten up at recess, mocked, laughed at, ostracized by all the kids in my age class in Junior High School, mainly because I didn’t dress like them. They were all harboring new clothes when I was using up garments that had been passed down to me, not even from my older brothers and sisters (‘cause I’m the eldest you see), but from the neighbors’ kids! For my parents it didn’t matter; they’re intellectuals and never thought fashion was important. They couldn’t realize that what you wear tells a story about who you are, whether you want it or not. And what it told my peers was that I was different, I was poor, and didn’t know the codes by which the not-so-secret society of teenagers is organized. My complete lack of compliance with what the tastes of the day demanded in terms of clothing enabled them to obviously consider me the very bottom of the social basket, and in order for them to feel on top of me, they needed to show me my inferiority by all kinds of bad treatments. Even my friends – the few I had – didn’t dare take my side against the mob. Fortunately, I was very strong: I never complained to anyone about how I was suffering at school; I was proud to be able to resist on my own and to make it through Junior High without crying for help. And when I was thinking about this episode, the emotions started coming back to me: the humiliation, the anger, the rage, the hatred, the sadness, the self-pity, the shame.
5. The tapping and its results
So I tapped, not even bothering to make full sentences, not even trying to isolate each specific emotion like I usually do with my patients, not trying to be specific, not even taking a rating. I just tapped blindly until the maelstrom calmed down. Then I tapped on the tension that it had left in my throat and shoulders. And after five minutes only of wild, unorthodox tapping I was back to normal, completely calm, centered and collected. I tried to be mad at my parents, mad at my classmates, mad at my friends, mad at myself for being a victim, albeit a strong one… nothing happened. The memories wouldn’t even come up. Exactly what happens when an emotionally charged event from your past gets cleared: it becomes difficult to remember it and trying harder only makes you feel bored, because there’s nothing worth remembering there anymore. Wow! This was new. I didn’t tap on specific events and the feelings they generate like Gary Craig teaches us to. I just tapped on a dense bundle of emotions that I had never let out, not even at that time. Instead of cutting each tree – meaning each specific example of abuse – in the cluster of trees in my emotional forest, I just sent a bulldozer and simultaneously annihilated all the trees of a thicket!
6. Back to the negative emotion born from the dream
But I was still feeling antsy, and slimy from the dream. OK, all relationships are an opportunity for self-growth as illustrated earlier, but sometimes they just feel plain bad: you stay conscious, you stay connected, you give it your best, and the only thing you receive is shit. When it comes to that point, the best thing to do is leave and that’s what I did; except that since it was my apartment, the truth is I had to kick him out. And the more I was thinking about it the more I could put a name on the emotional discomfort I was wallowing in since morning: it was guilt. Not necessarily guilt that I kicked him out, because I had tapped on this back then, when we broke up. But more guilt that I had to break up with him in the first place. Guilt that I had let our relationship degrade, that I had been unable to communicate with him, that I had let him become a splitter who was abusing me emotionally, that I had let myself be a victim for so long, that I had been unable to understand and to counteract the damaging dynamic that had established itself in our relationship. Guilt that I had allowed my bestest friend – because this is what we were in the beginning – turn into an enemy, into a person I’d rather avoid seeing ever again, someone whose memory made me feel uncomfortable to the point of shunning a whole period of my life yet so rich in joys and lessons. Needless to say that I tapped on all those aspects of my guilt. For the first time I was able to 1. recognize there was a discomfort, 2. understand the emotions behind the discomfort, 3. address them and thus gain clarity and freedom.
All of this happened because I asked for guidance in my dreams and didn’t try to dismiss the answer. Instead, I delved into it fully until all was said and done. Yet, it took me time to realize that this process I was going through, this journey I’m writing about, was the exact, appropriate answer to my request of a guidance dream. Indeed, by clearing yesteryear’s emotional darkness, I opened pathways for emotional growth in my future.
Tonight, I feel fulfilled because I made my peace with two different kinds of abuse from the past. But I also feel empowered because I understood how to practice EFT on myself more efficiently. Rather than going at it from an intellectual standpoint, tapping through my Personal Peace Procedure, focusing on what I know I felt back then, it’s more fruitful to wait for the emotions, the feelings to surface, whether through the cunning use of dreams or through the unavoidable unravelling of life.
And if you’re wondering what my dream said about my ex-boyfriend, I’ll leave your hunger unsatisfied, because I don’t even remember…