By Judy Byrne, EFT Master
A client I worked with on her fears about riding a horse reminded me that EFT can be so amazingly and instantly effective that it seems like a miracle. But it cannot teach us skills that we do not have. And sometimes it is not immediately apparent what a dramatic difference it has made.
Here is what happened.
This client (who I will call Jane) had very little riding experience as a child. When she was a young adult she and a friend, with even less experience, went to a riding school and said they could both ride. The school believed them, gave them hard hats, put them on horses and allowed them to go out into a field. After a while, Jane's horse got faster and faster. Then, when a nearby farmer began cutting his hedge, Jane's horse was spooked by the noise and went into a gallop, heading for a small stone wall. Jane thought she was going to die. But the horse stopped short of the wall and she fell.
For a couple of decades she was frightened to be anywhere near horses. Now with cognitive therapy and a lot of guts, she had resumed her confidence about being around a horse. She even offered to take care of one for someone else, and had a few lessons on it. But she felt she was still "blocked." She said: "I cannot relax. My body stiffens. I am afraid when the horse goes fast ... even when it is safe. My arms lock and become rigid. The horse feels this as a lack of support and he becomes anxious." She was really stuck in this cycle and frustrated.
We did the Movie Technique on the memory of the fall. As Jane processed it, she had some insights. What she had seen as the failure of falling off was actually something of a triumph for a novice rider to have stayed on as long as she did! She recognized that the trigger for her arms locking and becoming rigid now was the horse's head coming up, just as it had back then when she did not know enough to stop it when it bolted.
When she could run the movie of the memory in her head with almost no distress, we changed to the Story Technique, getting her to tell me the story as if I had not heard it before and stopping to tap every time any emotion came up. By the end of the session, she could tell the story without any emotion, we had tapped on a number of aspects that came up in the telling, and the memory had faded and become emotionally neutral.
But when she got home and reflected on it, Jane found her feelings about being on a fast horse fast had not changed. She told me when I saw her a couple of weeks later: "I was so disappointed that I just cried and cried and cried. I had hoped for a Harry Potter magic wand. I did not have one."
Jane is not a woman who gives in easily. Despite her disappointment, the weekend after our session she went for a lesson. As she got into it, she realized that her arms were no longer stiff. She was "open to the horse," comfortably taking in and responding to feedback from it. She was sitting better and riding better. She felt she was just "soaking the lesson up like a sponge."
Her teacher also noticed. She has a reputation as a great teacher but not one who uses praise for encouragement. She only acknowledges when people have really made progress. She confirmed Jane's perception that she was riding differently and with promise of better yet to come.
Still, Jane was not quite convinced she had cracked it. She thought maybe the improvement would hold only when her teacher was there, telling her what to do. It was not until she had taken the horse out by herself and felt the same way that she started to be confident that she was now potentially quite a different rider.
When I saw her for the second and last time, I asked her to check out the original memory. It was like an old black-and-white photo and she realized she had hardly thought about it since the last session. Previously, it came into her mind often. An interesting sidelight on the way memory works—she had realized that she had stored it in her head as if she had seen it taken by a camera behind her. What she thought she remembered was quite different from anything she could possibly have seen.
And she had realized that when you see a horse and rider that seem to "just flow together," it is because the rider is highly skilled and practiced. Top riders will ride up to six hours a day. There is talent but also a lot of craft in it. Once EFT had removed the block to learning, she still had to learn technique. The block had stopped her from seeing that before. Now that it had been cleared, the learning was only just beginning. She has to learn to be an expert rider. But I am betting nothing is going to stop her now.