By Jennifer Siering
One of my clients, Laura, had recently become aware of her constant need to please everyone around her. She had a very difficult time speaking her mind or saying no to anyone.
In order to work on this, I first had her visualize two different scenarios: one scenario where she had to tell one of her friends no and another where she told her boss that no, she couldn’t work on an extra assignment.
Laura felt anxious, with a SUD Level of Intensity score of 9 out of 10 with her boss and 10 out of 10 with her friends.
We decided to begin with the slightly-more-intense friend visualization and then work on the one with Laura’s boss, if necessary. Although they were two distinct scenarios, we knew that because of the similarities, the SUD level of both could potentially reduce to “0” by focusing on a single scenario.
As Laura replayed the scenario with her friend in her mind, I had her notice where in her body were any uncomfortable feelings and had her follow those feelings back to the first time she remembered having them.
We followed the “heavy pressure above her heart” back to a memory in fourth grade. Laura remembered working very hard on a school project, being so excited to bring it home to show her parents, and having her mom tell her it wasn’t good enough. She was feeling anxious and upset from her mom’s disappointment.
We tapped for a few rounds:
“Even though the project I did wasn’t good enough for Mom, she made me spend the whole weekend redoing it, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I feel so anxious and upset that I disappointed Mom, I can feel a heavy pressure above my heart, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I feel so bad right now, this project I did wasn’t good enough for Mom, I’m open to the possibility of accepting myself anyway.”
Once we had tapped for several rounds on this, I asked Laura to tune back in to the memory with her mom and replay the scene in her mind. This time, she was feeling shame around not being good enough for her mother.
“Even though my project wasn’t good enough for Mom, and it makes me feel like I’m not good enough for her, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I have so much shame about disappointing Mom with my project and not being good enough for her, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I have so much shame around never feeling like I’m good enough for Mom, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
After this round, we visualized the scene with her mother one more time and Laura’s SUD level was down to 0. So we went back to the original visualization with her saying no to her friend. Her SUD score had decreased from a 10 to a 4, and now she was noticing pressure on her shoulders, instead of above her heart. I asked Laura to follow that feeling of pressure on her shoulders back to the first time she remembered feeling it. The memory that came up was one of her at 7-years-old.
Laura remembered walking into a room, seeing her mom crying, and feeling responsible for helping her feel better.
“Even though Mom is feeling sad and I don’t know what to do to make her feel better, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I feel all this pressure on my shoulders, it’s my responsibility to make sure Mom is always okay, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway.”
“Even though have this pressure on my shoulders, I have to make sure everyone in my life is okay, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
After tapping for a few rounds on this, I asked Laura to visualize the scene again with her mom crying. Laura’s reaction was no longer about feeling responsible for “fixing” her mom, but she was feeling very alone.
So we tapped on that:
“Even though I’m feeling all alone right now, Mom isn’t available for me, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I’m feeling a little better and know I’m not responsible for taking care of Mom, I’m still feeling anxious about being all alone, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway.”
“Even though I really want Mom to pay attention to me, I’m feeling really alone without her noticing me right now, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
We tapped for a few minutes on these feelings of loneliness before visualizing the scene again. This time, Laura noticed that she felt lighter and she was no longer feeling lonely. In fact, now her mom was holding her hand and comforting her. Since this was resolved, we went back to retest her original problem statement of not being able to speak her mind or say no to people.
Laura visualized the scene with her friend and her boss again, and both were down to 0, with no emotional charge left at all. We tested an additional scene (saying no to her mom), which still had a SUD level of 2, but we had to wait until the next time to work on that, as we were out of time.