A Journey Through EFT Day 1- By Tara Gould
In early July 2014 I attended the EFT three day training course run by Karl Dawson at The Thistle Hotel in Brighton. It was an experience that proved to be intense and profound. The training was powerful and challenging in ways I had not expected, and had a surprising emotional impact on me.
Day 1: Glossophobia, arachnophobia and fight or flight.
Within the first ten minutes I am terrified. Nearly forty people sit in a large meeting room in the Thistle Hotel overlooking the sea. The sight of the beautiful Mediterranean coloured water and the glitzy Brighton Pier do little to ease my thumping heart or cool my sweaty palms. All this because, after a brief introduction, Karl has just told us that we will be standing up and speaking about ourselves one by one. I should have expected it, they always do this on these kinds of courses, but even after years of public speaking and hosting live events my fear doesn’t seem to go away. I simultaneously feel a strong urge to leave the room and a wave of anger at being made to do this – a typical fight or flight response.
Glossophobia, or fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears, and what is often referred to as a ‘universal fear’. It’s for precisely this reason that Karl uses it as a way of demonstrating the effectiveness of EFT. Turns out we aren’t really going to have to introduce ourselves, not yet anyway, this was merely a trick to get us all worked up. It couldn’t have been more successful. When Karl asks us whether we felt fear or anxiety at the prospect of having to speak in front of the group, a sea of hands immediately shoots up. Karl wanders the room, he asks a few people to describe what they feel and where they feel it, and he settles on one person, and uses their words to guide the tapping phrases:
“Even though I have this yellow tightness in my stomach, I still deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
We are all asked to tap along and go through the points simultaneously whilst repeating the words:
“This yellow tightness in my stomach, this yellow tightness…”
I’ve always considered phobias, like the fear of public speaking or arachnophobia, (I have them both) to be innate or primal fears, and not informed by early memories, as if they are somehow separate from me, things I can do little about. But Karl explains how even these seemingly inherent phobias can be traced back to a specific trauma or distressing memory which disrupted the energy system and has stored in our body. The fight or flight response was there initially to protect us, but now that we no longer need it, if the trauma is unresolved, it still kicks in when we are presented with a situation which seems to replicate the initial memory. As we tap as a group my thoughts wander and images and memories arise. I speculate what the early distressing memory might have been which caused my social phobia – ridicule at school, a family performance that back fired, parental expectations?
I also begin to contemplate my spider phobia, and memories surface; my mother allows a spider to crawl all over her as I watch in horror, and on another occasion, a huge hairy black one edges out from the folds of her wedding dress which I’d found in a box under the bed after my parents’ divorce.
Plenty of material to tap on there. And there I was thinking my fear of spiders was innocuous.
But so far I’m enjoying myself. I love the story aspect of EFT, and how what we perceive as our adult personality is drawn from the stories we tell ourselves. But these stories can be re-told, and as a consequence, we are able to change – to ‘arc’ – just like a character in a fictional tale. As a writer I find this fascinating and exciting, aside from the capacity for personal healing.
I look around at the participants, a mixed demographic, with a variety of ages and ethnicity, there are people from all four continents, and more men than I’d expected. There are artists and IT professionals, doctors and nutritionists.
Karl has asked if anyone has anything they’d like to work on and begins to tap on a man at the front. He encourages us all to tap along. Tapping together as a group for me is extremely powerful. Almost as soon as we start I begin to feel things moving around inside me. Karl asks the man how he feels. The man describes the grey sadness and uncertainly inside his chest and after a moment he begins to cry. Tears pop up immediately in my eyes, involuntarily, I tell myself not to cry but it’s no good, the more I try to control it the stronger it becomes. This is what I was afraid of. I hate to expose my feeling in public, I hate to cry in public. I struggle with it, stop tapping, look out to the pier, but my lip is trembling, and when Karl moves on to another woman who also begins to get tearful, it’s no use, the tears stream freely down my cheeks. When she tells him: “It was something that happened when I was five,” a wave of emotion surges up and an embarrassing yelp escapes from me as I jump up and run sobbing from the room. I thought I would be disassociated! But this is a bit like a bad dream, and the thing I dreaded most.
I’m followed out by a lovely young woman called Alexis who is a trained EFT therapist and we go to a quiet room. She is such a warm, loving and supportive presence that I soon feel much safer. There are a number of such ‘helpers’ here on standby just for such occasions, and I soon realise I’m not the only one who has left the room in tears. I don’t even know why it happened, or what exactly was triggered in me, but I feel like I want to cry for hours, for days and weeks, cry out this ocean of rich, hot grief until it’s all gone. It’s not a bad feeling, it’s a respite. Alexis encourages me to do heart breathing and we sit for some moments, hands on chests and breathe slowly, imagining the breath going in and out of the heart.
When she asks me what triggered this I say I can’t put it down to anything, that I think I simply tuned in to the other people’s emotion, that I over empathized, but she seems to think there is more going on than that. She asks me if there is a memory that comes to mind. There is. An unexpected one, a sad one from early childhood, and for half an hour we work on it using EFT and Matrix until my SUDS (subjective units of distress) level has come down again. At the end I say I still feel embarrassed about the yelping noise I made, Alexis says “Don’t worry, it was cute!” and hugs me.
At lunch time I wander around the sunny Brighton streets in a daze, I feel peculiar and more than a little shaken up. But, my main concern now is that I cried in front of the whole room. I feel uncovered and ashamed – fear of exposure and social humiliation. Another one to add to the fast expanding list on my Personal Peace Process. I’ve worked on myself for years, counselling, meditation, writing therapy – and right now I feel a mixture of things: empowered – that I have a tool I can use to free myself from these fears, and fatigued – that there is still so much emotional debris left. That at the age of forty four I still appear to be a total screw-up!
When we return that afternoon Karl says something that consoles me, he describes how, when we focus on a number of specific memories that inform a core negative belief, other issues simultaneously dissolve.
In the afternoon we explore the ‘movie technique’ and ‘chasing the pain’ which I enjoy. Karl is a great teacher. The techniques are well described and the sessions are well paced and structured. We split into pairs in two group to practice. I’m happy to focus on someone else for a while.
Find out next week how Tara copes on Day 2 when she discovers how a moment of cruelty at the hand of two friends has lasting consequences. It’s also the first time she faces one of her core negative beliefs – that it’s not safe to trust people.