EFT Tapping for Stress Depression and Weight Gain
by Sandy Zeldes
Raise your hand if you know you are experiencing stress right now or have in the past. All hands are raised no doubt. Who hasn’t experienced stress? We all know what it is like to have had significant stress in our pasts and stress in our current circumstances. Most if not all of us are aware of the challenging and unprecedented times in which we are living and the changes to our lives due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as our regular stress perhaps with family, a nagging health condition, work, or in our lives overall. This is the stress we are conscious of.
Many of my clients feel frustrated because they have a lot of awareness about causes for stress, but this does not change it. Even tapping for their current situations is sometimes simply not enough.
We may also be aware of a lot of stressful events from our pasts or even trauma that we have worked on that has contributed to our experience of stress. I call this “accumulated stress,” which can be stored in order to protect us from it while an experience is happening. This is extremely common in our society and I feel it is especially common for us women. We will store our stress like our bodies store toxins in our fat cells in order to protect our essential organs from it.
The stress we are aware of either from our pasts or present life is just one part of the equation for many people. The stress we are not aware of may be the biggest component in our current symptoms, especially when it comes to chronic depression, weight gain, or illness.
Many researchers in both energy psychology and traditional psychology have pinpointed stress in all its forms as a major contributor to these conditions. According to many functional medicine practitioners, it is the top contributor, right beside poor diet. In his book When The Body Says No, renowned physician Gabor Mate states that, in his clinical experience, unconscious stress in the form of suppressed emotion is the top contributor to illness and disease.
It is this form of stress that I have found is also the most challenging for clients to release and also most important for getting good results with healing.
Why suppressed emotion is the sneakiest source of our stress
Our conscious stress is often easier to address through tapping for the simple reason that we are aware it exists. Suppressed emotion can be sneaky because we do not even know it is there. In my experience over the last 12 years of tapping with clients on stubborn health issues, even tapping for symptoms isn’t as effective because often there is a powerful personal belief attached to suppressing a particular emotion.
Powerful belief systems may be in place about the actual goodness of suppressing emotion or specific emotions and the rulebook was created long ago in our distant pasts or out of memory. To uncover this can require patience with ourselves. There is much good reason to do so because, in many cases, these old “rules” or beliefs we created to suppress this emotion is a major cause of our current physical symptoms.
As Mate describes so perfectly, when we cannot say no (or express ourselves), our body will do so for us one way or the other. Working with women with stubborn weight gain, I commonly see this as true. Our bodies are powerfully protecting us in many cases.
What to do about it
Knowing about both the conscious and unconscious nature of our stress and suppressed emotions is critical in releasing it. More important, of course, than all the knowledge in the world is knowing how to address it so we can transform our health. Our health is more important than ever in today’s environment.
Here are some powerful questions to ask to find sneaky suppressed emotion contributing to chronic symptoms:
1) What emotions am I most uncomfortable expressing or feeling? I find this is especially important for my clients to address when dealing with chronic and “stubborn” health issues. Typically, the most common feelings that are either suppressed (unconsciously so) or not expressed are anger and rage as well as feeling comfortable with speaking up with important people in our lives or saying no when desired. It can be circular in that our inability to express this emotion contributes to the anger and frustration.
The tricky part is often realizing this emotion is important to feel, and therefore accepting our need to express it. Beliefs we learned in childhood about the acceptability of certain emotions, expressing ourselves, or being able to say no often shape our inability to feel and release the emotion. There are many other reasons that our emotions can feel unsafe. Abuse is just one example that must be addressed first in most cases in order to clear the suppressed pain and anger.
In all of the clients I have worked with over the years, the suppressed emotions are the most important to find, accept, allow, and then effectively release in order for true healing to take place. For many, it is also the beginning of the end to addiction as well.
2) Who or what would you like to say no to if you could or felt it safe to (for any reason)? Our bodies beautifully protect us by keeping on weight in many cases or expressing other painful “stubborn” symptoms to say “no” to the world or others when we cannot. Perfect examples of this are weight gain in order to avoid sexual relationships, feeling sexual, feeling like anything to do with sexuality is threatening (for any reason, even if just that being sexy would make significant people in your life feel jealous in some way, etc.).
Our painful symptoms also help us to say no because they become our reason for not doing things such as social events or having to talk to someone or take an action we don’t want to take. One of my clients was not aware of how much she resented her mother’s constant complaining and even critique of her. She just thought it was normal. But her body did not find it at all pleasant. She had an unconscious belief that “good girls visit their mothers regularly no matter how mean they are to them.” Interestingly, she noticed that whenever she lived near her mother and saw her regularly (because she did not feel comfortable or capable of saying no to visits with her), she gained at least 10 to 15 pounds and it became an excuse to stay home frequently. When we tapped for her beliefs and subsequent suppressed anger at her mother and herself for going when she didn’t want to, she started to lose weight and felt her energy come back into her body.
Another client thought she had already addressed all of her feelings about her abusive sister and brother in therapy (she was a therapist, in fact) and even tapped on it many times, but when we worked on her addictive habits and weight gain she realized that she had never actually acknowledged her need to feel all of her anger because she felt it was unacceptable to be angry in the first place and to say no to her family who needed her. After we addressed this and tapped thoroughly on the beliefs, feelings, and boundaries she needed and wanted to set with family, her daily need for a cocktail completely ceased and weight loss shifted into being effortless.
3) What boundaries do you feel may be unclear or not set in your life with others? While boundaries are similar to being able to say no to others, I think it is worth having a clear, separate category for boundaries because they are that important. Though saying no can be a part of setting clear boundaries, it isn’t the only component.
Setting clear boundaries encompasses what we will accept and not accept in our important relationships and in our lives. This can take some deep work and awareness. For starters, it is important to ask yourself where you feel unclear or uncomfortable even with having boundaries. This is often where they are most needed. Tapping is very productive in this area when we address all the underlying guilt for either saying no or having boundaries in the first place. Often tapping on our lack of clarity and/or discomfort in having boundaries is the best place to start to find out just what is sneaky or suppressed beneath this.
For example, having clear boundaries can upset a balance in our significant relationships when we have not had them previously. Fear of losing others’ acceptance, love, or relationship is one of the biggest suppressed emotions behind not being clear about boundaries. Tapping for any lack of safety with doing so in the past or traumas around this is important to do with guidance as this is often related to painful experiences in childhood.
4) Learn to love symptoms instead of avoiding or fighting with them. When we realize our symptoms are our bodies talking to us and trying to help us, we begin to have more compassion instead of frustration with our symptoms. In this way, we can learn to take the time to get to know ourselves better through these painful symptoms and unwind the stories and feelings behind them. Healing chronic conditions does take compassion, patience, and understanding in order not only to transform them, but also to gain the gifts inherent in this experience. The gifts we open are often more peace, better health that is natural instead of forced through use of willpower to “keep motivated” to do something healthy, better relationships, peace with our bodies, and new awarenesses and creativity, productivity, and purpose.
Loving our symptoms is the teaching tool of a lifetime and a great place to tap if we aren’t able to. Tapping for frustration with healing and our bodies is important to get out of the way to enable ourselves to begin to listen and then to know.
Sample tapping statements
Here are some potential statements to get you started with tapping.
“Even though I’m so angry, frustrated or upset with [name someone toward whom you have been holding a lot of rage or resentment, etc.], I choose to love, accept, and forgive all of me now.”
“Even though I don’t feel ok, safe or allowed to feel, say or do ____ [name your emotion, event you wish you didn’t have to do, or person you would like to say something or not do something with], I truly love and accept myself now and I’m ok anyway.”
“Even though I’d love to say no but I just can’t right now because ____ [fill in the blank with your reason], I am now knowing that it is safe, I am safe, and everyone else is safe.”
“Even if they never agree with me, I choose to know that I have free will to choose what is right for me and am allowed to say no and have my own boundaries with anyone for any reason at any time.”
“Even if they get mad, reject, or don’t like me for setting my own boundaries that work for me, I choose to know that I am ok anyway inside and everyone else is ok anyway.”
“Even if I never get over this problem or symptom, I choose to know that I am ok inside anyway and love and accept all of me now.”
“Even if this symptom or problem has become my identity… what would I do and who would I be without it… I choose to love and accept myself anyway.”
“Even if this problem is protecting me in some way, that’s ok, I choose to love, honor, and accept myself anyway.”
And the classic: “Even if there is a downside to doing ____ [setting this boundary, healing this issue, letting this go, etc.], I choose now to love, accept, and honor myself anyway.”
The feelings we are unable to have or express and the words we don’t say are sometimes the ones that matter most. When our bodies are shouting at us with chronic and painful stubborn symptoms, it may be time to listen. Finding and releasing our sneaky suppressed emotions and beliefs around what we can and can’t express in our lives can be as simple as asking the right powerful questions with tapping while loving ourselves enough to hear our answers.
Compassion is love is love in action and it is the way to unlocking our own mysteries to peace and optimal health. Our voices can be expressed so our bodies can say yes. An authentic yes is the most powerful thing we can offer those we love. Our simple no is our greatest ally in healing when we need it as well.