You probably find that there are certain behaviors your relationship partner exhibits that drive you crazy. Most people invest time and energy trying to change the partner’s behavior. However, these behaviors only trigger us because they remind us of an old traumatic event. Our current relationship is the detonator, not the dynamite. The dynamite is the unresolved childhood events buried inside of us. I have witnessed many instances of people finding peace with their relationship partners when they heal their old wounds with EFT. The partner doesn’t change, yet the energy field of the relationship changes completely when the emotional intensity of the old event collapses with EFT.
-Dawson Church, PhD
At an EFT workshop, one of the participants, “Nancy,” a female college professor, said she resented her husband.
“I go to his professional conferences but he doesn’t go to mine,” she said. “There was one I really wanted him to go to, but he refused. I hid my pain.”
One of my favorite sayings is that The Problem Is Never The Problem.
It’s almost always an echo of an earlier problem.
The current problem has upset us only because it has an “emotional signature” similar to that of an earlier problem. Once the emotional signature is evoked, we attach meaning to the current situation as the cause of our distress.
But focusing on it simply keeps us locked into our old patterns. It displaces our attention from a place where full and complete healing is possible (the early problem) and onto a spot where only partial healing is possible (the current problem). It’s as though the “emotional signature” has a cunning will to live; it knows it will be extinguished if we heal the source, so it provides us with a red herring to distract us from the true source of our pain.
One way to reframe the current problem is to perceive it as an old pattern requiring healing.
We then see it as a healing opportunity rather than as an annoyance.
I asked Nancy where she felt the resentment toward her husband in her body, and she said it was in her throat. The intensity level was a 5. I asked what the earliest time she could recall a similar physical feeling, and she said, “When my mother pushed me. I was 5-years-old. She pushed me down the steps. A neighbor saw her do it, and rushed over and asked if I was alright. My mother said, ‘She’s a stupid girl, she wasn’t moving fast enough’ so I hid my pain and said I was fine.”
What a miserable emotional experience for a 5-year-old!
She gets physically injured as a result of a parent’s anger, gets blamed for it, and then tries to make the adults feel better by hiding the pain she feels. A five year old taking care of the emotional issues of an adult! She was a 9 on the pushing incident before we began tapping, and her SUD score quickly receded to a 2.
I said, “Nancy, I bet you were an expert at hiding your pain by the age of 5. You’d had lots of practice. Tell me about an earlier incident where you hid your pain.”
Unhesitatingly she replied, “I was at pre-school, on the playground. I was all alone, sitting on one end of a see saw (teeter totter). A teacher realized I might be lonely, so she picked up another little girl and put her on the other end. Her end of the see saw went down and mine went up. I’m seeing the eyes of that girl right now. She didn’t want to be with me. So she jumped off. I fell down hard, and jarred and my spine. But I hid my pain.”
Nancy started to cry.
I began to say something, but she cut me off and said, “I really want to feel this right now. I’m used to stuffing it away. Don’t make me try and feel better!” When a client is in touch with their feelings, you don’t need a SUD number to prove it. The fact that Nancy was not hiding her pain was a breakthrough.
Nancy tapped until the see saw incident went down to a 2.
I asked, “How do you feel about your husband not going to conferences with you?” She replied with a laugh, “I can take care of myself, and actually I have more fun when he’s not there!”
This cognitive shift is typical of people who’ve resolved an emotional distress.
My guess is that Nancy could have tapped on the adult disappointment around her husband, and experienced an improvement. But she would not have resolved the core issue, “I hide my pain.” That could only happen when she dealt with the problem behind the problem; the childhood hurt that still lived in her heart, and which was awakened when her husband didn’t want to attend one of her professional conferences.
If Nancy had continued to make the problem about her husband, and invest her time and energy into changing him, she would have wasted her energy. Only when she focused on the source of the negative emotions did she provide herself with the opportunity for true healing.