By Jennifer Siering, EFT practitioner
Tom had been getting very frustrated dealing with his sister, a feeling going back to his childhood, because of her unwillingness to change.
Tom’s sister constantly made him feel drained and exhausted. Even just recalling their last interaction, Tom started feeling tightness in his chest and had difficulty breathing.
Due to this strong physical reaction, I knew it was important to start tapping right away and simply assumed his SUD level was at 10.
We started off by following the tight chest feeling back to the first time Tom remembered feeling it. The memory that came up was when he was 12-years-old and was so frustrated with his sister that he had left the house to escape from her. Tom’s sister didn’t understand and was trying to follow Tom and leave with him, which made Tom even angrier.
We tapped on all of his anger at her sister:
“Even though she’s always in everything I try to do, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I feel like I can never escape my sister, I just need to get away from her, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway.”
“Even though I can’t stand my sister, I hate her so much and just want her to leave me alone, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
We tapped many rounds on these feelings of anger. Next I asked Tom to check back in to the memory to see what he was noticing now. Instead of the anger, Tom was now feeling drained from having to deal with his sister constantly because she “sucked out all his energy.”
“Even though I’m feeling completely drained right now, that’s what having to deal with my sister does to me, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I’m feeling completely drained and exhausted, I can never win with my sister, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway.”
“Even though my sister always sucks out all of my energy, I feel so exhausted dealing with her because I can never win, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
After a while of tapping, I asked Tom to check back in to the memory to see what he was feeling now. His feelings toward his sister were neutral now and he was picturing himself turning around to go home with her when suddenly a piece of the memory came back to him. Tom remembered that, at this point, a stray dog had come running out and bitten his sister. His sister had been injured very badly and was bleeding heavily. Tom felt extremely guilty and responsible.
At this point, I could tell that the intensity of the memory was overwhelming for Tom, so we took a step back and focused just on the physical sensations in his body, to distance him from the memory.
He was feeling tightness in his chest and his breathing was constrained:
“Even though my chest is feeling very tight right now and I’m having a hard time breathing, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I can’t breathe well and my chest feels very tight, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway.”
“Even though all I’m noticing right now is my tight chest and difficulty breathing, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
After a few rounds, Tom was much calmer, could breathe normally, and was no longer feeling the same physical sensations in his chest. At this point, I wanted to be very gentle in approaching the memory with his sister, so I asked Tom to come up with a title for the memory.
We tapped many rounds on just the title:
“Even though I have this memory, “the dog,” I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I feel really overwhelmed with this memory, “the dog,” I deeply and completely accept myself anyway.”
“Even though “the dog” memory is very upsetting to me, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Once the title of “the dog” memory no longer had any emotional charge, I asked Tom to rewind the memory to a neutral point, “play it” in his memory, and stop as soon as he noticed any uncomfortable feelings. Each time there was a feeling that arose from the memory, we stopped and tapped on it, until the emotional charge was resolved. Then, I would ask Tom to rewind the “movie” and replay the memory again until he ran into a new part of the memory that was emotionally charged for him.
After many rounds of tapping, Tom had resolved all the different aspects from the memory and was able to talk about the whole thing out loud without being triggered.
We went back to the original problem statement of “I can’t stand my sister” to see whether Tom had changed from his original 10. He was now completely neutral. He was also feeling much calmer about having to see his sister later that weekend.