Tapping Free of Bothersome Memories

May 15, 2009 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

In last month’s survey, the issue of a “bothersome memory” showed up as something respondents wanted help with using EFT. (Thank you to those who took the time to fill it out.)

In this month’s newsletter, I will give you some specific tips for releasing those troubling memories. First, let me explain how these memories got stuck in the first place.

Life can be a challenge for any number of reasons. Most of the time you are able to experience the challenge and move through it without lasting negative side effects. But there are some experiences that seem to “stick with you” no matter what you do to let go or move past them.

The reason being that a negative experience can leave behind, what I call, an energetic signature in your mind and body. It got  “stuck” due to a significant degree of emotional intensity that you were unable to resolve in that moment.

When you experience a highly charged unpleasant emotion, the ego perceives the situation as a “threat to survival” (regardless of whether that is actually true or not).
The autonomic reaction to being “threatened” is to fight, flee or freeze.

There are many reasons why it is not possible to “fight or flee” in a given situation so the mind “freezes”. This is a default mechanism that allows time to pass in hopes that the “threat” goes away. Another aspect that often accompanies a freeze reaction is a sense of helplessness or powerlessness. The mind determines that there is “nothing I can do about this” so it stores the whole bundle of unresolved energy somewhere in the body and files the memory in the subconscious mind.

Because the subconscious mind retains this “charged” information, whenever the memory is triggered, the unresolved emotions come with it. The reverse is also possible; sometimes an old emotion gets triggered by a current event.

In the field of energy psychology, trauma (an intense emotional event) is often described as being either “BIG T” or “little t” trauma. Big T events are the catastrophic events such as child abuse, natural disasters, falls or injuries from accidents, unexpected loss, war experiences, life threatening illnesses, or a crime victim. These unresolved traumas can lead to what is called PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

PTSD is treatable with EFT, but should only be done with an experienced practitioner.

“Little t” trauma is any other intense emotional or physical experience that got stuck in your energy field, even if you were told at the time that is was “no big deal” or “you’ll get over it.” For highly sensitive persons, many “little t” traumas can build up and result in many of the same symptoms found in PTSD, such as anxiety, insomnia, excessive shyness or even physical symptoms such as chronic aches and pains.

Even though the event passes, the wave cycle of intense emotional energy is unresolved or incomplete. When you are able to resolve it by either the fight or flight mechanism or some other energy catharsis during or immediately following the crisis, you are less likely to have lasting side effects from that experience.

The fight or flight responses allow you to use the emotional energy for carrying out either response and in so doing dissipate the energy. Consequently you can recall it, but you no longer have the emotional upset at the same time.

The problem with the freeze response in a high intensity experience is that you get “stuck” with it. Your emotional response becomes “frozen in time”. In the freeze mode, the energy wave is stuck indefinitely until the cycle of response can be completed and the energy wave resolves. You then experience release, relief or a sense of calm awareness. You are no longer in a “high alert” state.

Another way to describe it is like an “unfinished story”. You are left hanging with this incomplete solution to the plot. The story will play over and over again in your mind to remind you that it is unresolved. EFT helps you complete the emotional wave and therefore bring the story to a place of resolution or completion energetically. It does not change the outcome of the past only your reaction to it. It allows the experience to be fully in the past, rather than an on-going part of your present emotional experiences.

EFT is particularly effective in clearing the emotional residue of bothersome memories.

Because “Big T” traumas often carry hidden elements and the intensity is usually uncomfortably high, I highly recommend that you work with an experienced EFT practitioner who has had experience working with this level of trauma.

It is best not to attempt to resolve this type of memory on your own.

But you can work on some of the “little t” traumatic memories.

The EFT process I like the most for these types of memories is what Gary Craig calls the Movie Technique. It’s a way to tune into a specific event and begin to disarm it with a minimal amount of emotional discomfort.
Choose a specific event and give it a title as if it were a story or movie. For instance, the title might be “No Date for the Senior Prom” or “Always Picked Last for the Baseball Team” or “My Most Embarrassing Moment”. You get the idea. This title becomes the first part of your Setup Phrase.

Rate what your emotional intensity would be IF you were to replay the movie. You don’t have to replay it now, just estimate how intense you would feel if you remembered all the details.

Now state your Setup Phrase three times while tapping on the Karate Chop Point (outside edge of the palm of either hand).

Example: “Even though I have this ‘No Date for the Senior Prom’ movie, I totally and completely accept myself.”

Next begin tapping the shortcut series of points beginning with the eyebrow point while saying “No Date for the Senior Prom” at each point ending with the top of your head. (For a chart of points, go to  http://www.happytapping.net and click on ‘About EFT’.) If any emotions come up, just keep tapping and breathing, they will decrease. Emotional energy is like a wave. It builds up, peaks and dissolves on the shore. Tapping helps you to ride the wave to completion.

After each round of tapping rate the level of intensity again. Once the intensity is reduced by half or more, you can either say “this remaining (name the emotion)”, or you can begin to replay the movie in your mind and identify other parts of the story that still have a charge on them (and perhaps a different emotion) and tap on those. If you still have negative feeling about it, it’s not yet resolved so continue tapping. Shift your focus slightly to whatever sensations you are aware of.

You can also adapt the Setup Phrase, by changing the title of the movie or by changing the acceptance phrase to something else that is affirming of yourself either then or now. When you can replay the movie without any emotional charge you have resolved it and it will no longer disrupt you in your everyday life.

By clearing more and more of these old bothersome memories, you will naturally reduce the underlying stress and anxiety that you’ve been living with for a long time. You will feel lighter and more energetic and it’s very likely some of the chronic problems you’ve been “living with” will decrease or disappear. Happy Tapping!

Nancy Southern, MSW
EFT Specialist

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