EFT Helps You Commit Yourself to Your Life

EFT After An Accident Leads to Huge New Insights

Early last October, I broke my femur and a bone in my hand. I had just bought my daughter a bike from someone in the neighborhood and ridden it home. In the driveway, starting to dismount, my foot got caught in the toe clip and I just fell over and landed on my hip—and I guess my hand automatically went out to try to stop the fall. Wow, that hurt—especially in my leg! Fortunately, my husband had followed me home in his car, and when he saw me fall, he jumped out, and our neighbor across the street ran over. I felt awful—nauseated and woozy and I passed out for a few seconds. Fortunately, the ambulance came quickly and I was in surgery that day where a doctor put in three pins.

The interesting thing (to me anyway) is that, for several weeks after the accident, I felt that I couldn’t quite get back into the physical. Whenever I thought about the event, there was an echo of that awful nauseated, lightheaded, spinny feeling . When I worked on it with EFT, I saw myself floating way, way up in space. The earth was far, far down and I was attached to the earth by a very long umbilical cord. In a way, it felt good to float up there—no responsibilities, no worries, nothing heavy, just floating peacefully. I felt spacey and not hooked into my life. That feeling was seductive. Something about it felt wrong, though. But I couldn’t figure out how to get back down to the earth, back down to being in my physical self and in my life.

A Solution Appears

Suddenly it occurred to me that I could pull myself down by the umbilical cord, and I did that. When I was down on the earth, I was once again grabbed by gravity, and the umbilical cord whooshed into the earth like one of those dog leashes that keep your dog next to you. Once down here again, and really feeling that I was solidly on the earth, I got the message that it was up to me to consciously commit myself to my life—or not. I decided I really do want to be here, to be closely connected to my husband, children, grandchildren, friends, clients, the walks I take, the articles I write, the books I read, the trees, flowers, snow, my car, my house—everything! It was—and still is—an exciting feeling, to really commit to being here and appreciating and enjoying it all. I also suddenly “got” how to trust life in a way I had never trusted before.

EFT Helps Heal the After-Effects of Surgery

This kind of thing happens to many people, the sudden inability to commit yourself to your life. For example, after one of my past clients was back in her room after surgery, she suddenly couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t even gasp and she definitely couldn’t call out. Fortunately, her friend was in the room and saw what was happening and called a nurse. My client felt trapped in her body and then she felt that it was too much to stay here. She felt herself fading out. For a long time after that, she couldn’t stay attached to her life anymore. It was too hard to deal with all the painful events happening in her life. She felt she was just done with being on the earth and that she’d rather be with God. When we talked some more, she remembered that God is always there every day in her life and she was the one who had lost her awareness of the connection. We used EFT to work through the trauma of the surgery and other related events, and she had a big breakthrough, reconnecting with her joy in being alive on the earth.

Somewhere inside and outside, we all have a connection with something that loves us unconditionally and knows everything about us. It’s always there, but we can lose our conscious access to it. You can lose the access to commit yourself to your life. The good thing is that the knowledge of how to reconnect is in each of us, just waiting for us to notice. For this woman, the beginning was to remember that, in the past, she had felt the connection when she was reading the holy book of her religion. Thinking about reading it again was already helping her to feel the connection to some extent.

The Death of a Loved One Can Make it Hard to Commit Yourself to Your Life

A long time ago, one of my teachers talked about his experience after his father died. He felt drawn to go with his father. All the people he knew and all the things he was doing in his life had lost their meaning and he had lost his sense of connection with any of it. He was drifting, not really here, partly already gone to be with his father. He, too, had to find a way to re-commit to being here on the planet, in his daily life.

It seems that this experience of losing connection with our life energy, losing a sense of the meaning of things is a frequent experience for people that have come close to death or have lost someone very close to them. This also can happen when we experience trauma, loss, or one difficulty after another—a time when we don’t feel we can make it through. We begin to drift away from life.

An Exercise

One way to find the meaning again is to notice the feeling you’re having—disconnection, not caring, drifting, fading out, whatever it is. Just notice it with one of the following questions in your mind:

  • When did I lose my sense of meaning or commitment to life? What happened just before that?
  • How was I aware of connection to my life at that point, before I lost connection? (Was it love of something or someone, passion in your work or something you were doing, a sense of wonder about being in the world? What was it?) What helped me feel truly connected?
  • Think about that experience, that feeling of love of life, of commitment to what you were doing or being. Think about the feeling in great detail. You’ll notice that, as you’re thinking about it, you’re getting a bit (or a lot) of that feeling right now. Stay with that feeling and let it grow.
  • Ask yourself what you can do to nurture it and then notice what comes to you immediately after that. Even if it seems crazy or strange or stupid—THAT is the answer.

Using EFT Tapping along with the above exercise really helps unknown resolutions to appear. Sometimes it’s hard to do this yourself. If you’d like some help, you can contact me for a session. Check out my webpage on alleviating the effects of Stress and Trauma .

 

Here’s an EFT Exercise for Accepting Yourself

Do you ever look around amazed that the world actually exists? Doesn’t it seem miraculous: cars, blossoming trees, houses, rivers, insects and birds—us? Wow! How wonder-ful and rare this all is in the universe (if not downright unique)! Which makes me realize how precious each living thing is—does that happen to you, too? That means that each person is precious, which means all of us. Which means you, too! Each of us with our specific self, our specific personality, talents, “weaknesses,” quirks—it’s like each of you is a gift to the world put here specifically to be who you are. Right?

It would make sense, then, that we’d want to make the most out of our time here. To be happy as often as we can. To love all this awesome stuff that we’re surrounded by. But we often get down and feel all alone; we’re often scared, sad and worried or depressed. Then we feel helpless and powerless. Our thinking becomes global versus specific: everything has always been awful and always will be awful.

A Metaphorical EFT Exercise to Transform Unhappiness into Acceptance
Notice exactly what you’re experiencing—let’s say someone disapproved of something you did. You’re thinking “everyone hates me.” Let’s drill down into that a bit: what is the experience you’re having inside yourself when you think that? Do you feel all alone in the world? What is that feeling made up of? What color is it, for instance? Is it black or gray or white, or…? Where do you see yourself: in a desert? In the middle of the ocean? In a white fog? Or where? Maybe you can be there in that place, accepting it as a place to be, for right now. Not spinning out with thoughts that you’re going to be there forever, just accepting this place right now.

I learned a version of the next part of this exercise from my colleague,Rue Hass. I’ve found it to be very helpful. So–Look around you in your imagination. What else is there beside you, above you, below you? Maybe you can draw yourself in this environment, or just imagine it really vividly. Then say to yourself that you accept yourself in this environment. That this is the way it seems and that you’re open to seeing it a different way. Then you can notice if anything has changed in your imagination scene. Often it does change. You can also notice what you might do with your own body and muscles to change your place in the scene so that it will feel better to you.

If you feel like it, you can drill down like this with any experience you’re having—sadness, for instance. If you feel like it, notice the feeling, the color, texture, the scene you’re in, what’s around you and accept being there just for right now. Then go further into the exercise.

I’ve often used this with clients while doing EFT Tapping with them. As we tap on whatever they’re seeing, the scene keeps changing and getting better and often, at the end, the person comes up with a solution that’s is at the same time obvious and is something they never would have thought of before! If you’d like to try it, contact me at zoeric@comcast.net or call 303-444-1195.

Free Yourself From Your Childhood Family Role

Without stress in a family, members of the family feel free to be themselves, to take on different roles in the family or group at different times. There’s fluidity in the way family members relate to each other. But when a family becomes stressed or traumatized, they change in how they behave toward each other, now coming from fear instead of the way they normally interact. People begin to relate from a stress-driven state of mind, and to interpret each other’s behavior and words from a different mindset. Everything is now filtered through these feelings of stress and fear. People become more rigid, stuck, locked into family roles.

 Family Stress Roles Are Needed at First

When a stress or trauma first happens in a family, specific members of the “family organism” are unconsciously chosen by the family organism to take on specific family roles (for simplification, we’ll just refer to the family and not always to “family or group” from now on). At that point, members no longer feel free to move among the family roles but, without even knowing that’s what’s happening, they become stuck in the family roles they’re assigned, often throughout their whole lives. At first, there’s some usefulness to the family stress roles, as they help the family solve and resolve whatever stressful or traumatic situation they’re faced with—for example, job loss, death of a critical member of the family, disasters such as earthquakes or floods, war, and so on.

 What Are the Family Stress Roles?

Let’s say one of the above very painful or disastrous situations happens to a family. There are various family roles that need to be taken up by members of the family:

  1.  Someone needs to work on finding a solution to the problem so that the family can survive and hopefully thrive into the future
  2. Someone needs to carry on making sure day-to-day things are taken care of—cooking meals, bathing the children, going to work.
  3. Often someone is unconsciously assigned the role of carrying the fear of future disasters—to keep the family focused on making sure that if a stress or disaster happens again, the family won’t be affected again
  4. If the solution seems to be taking too long or it seems the person(s) assigned to finding a solution doesn’t seem like they’re going to be able to succeed, there’s an even stronger “pushing” role—someone often begins to come up with really drastic attempts to resolve the problem that don’t fit into the family’s idea of a viable solution, such as suggestions to rob other people to get money to survive, killing people, etc.

 Family Stress Roles Are Passed Down Through Generations

Although family stress roles are useful when the family actually needs to resolve something, unfortunately, families often get stuck in these anxiety dynamics generation after generation, long after they’re useful. People suffering in these stuck long-term roles often are the ones that come for family therapy. The roles become increasingly rigid and change into entrenched family habits in the way members relate to each other. Each member of the family often also takes on the same role in whatever group he/she becomes part of, for example, at work, in social groups, in romantic relationships, and with their own next-generational families. Professionals in family therapy have written about these roles, using various names for the roles. Again, the assignment of roles is unconscious—it’s not done on purpose, and the family usually doesn’t even recognized that the assignments are happening. The roles can be called:

  1. Caretaker Role: This is one role that should be given to an adult in the family, but inappropriately, it is often given to a child, who is expected to be the “go-to” person when anyone needs help. As the child gets older, he/she takes on the role more and more frequently. The great thing for caretakers is that they feel very competent. The downside is that they feel burdened with everyone’s problems. The caretaker becomes increasingly competent and everyone else feels and acts increasingly  incompetence . In the long run, no one benefits.
  2. Distancer Role: This role should be assigned to the children, but it’s often taken by one of the parents, who stays wrapped up in the newspaper or soap operas or sports when the others in the family are dealing with emotional problems or conflicts. The great thing for distancers is that they experience no anxiety. They are always at peace, leaving the emotional stuff to be dealt with by everyone else. The downside is really for everyone else, who gets no help from the distancer and who feels abandoned.
  3. Identified Patient Role: This is the person, often the youngest child or sometimes one of the parents, who feels the emotional pain for everyone but either is too young to have the power to do anything about it or (in the case of a parent in the role) doesn’t feel up to the task. This person feels weak and is also perceived as weak by the others. He/she often becomes ill and/or suffers from nightmares. Identified patients hold the pain for the family. The benefit to the family is that, unconsciously, they can leave all that to the identified patient.
  4. Outcast Role: This person actually experiences the most anxiety in the family. People in this role are “pulled” to go against the taboos of the family, sometimes so much so that the family decides they don’t want to have anything to do with them. They may use swear words in a religious family, take drugs in a family that believes that’s wrong or sneak out at night when everyone else is asleep to break windows. They seem extremely “wrong” to the rest of the family. Strangely, the benefit to the family is that everyone focuses so much energy being upset at the person in the outcast role that the rest of the family doesn’t have to deal with whatever problems the family is really dealing with as a whole. This person is a “scapegoat” in the family.

Healing Stuck Family Stress Roles

The secret to healing is to become more fluid, for members of the family to feel free to move around the roles instead of staying stuck in the one they’re used to playing. For example, caretakers can decide they don’t need to solve a particular problem this time and leave it to someone else to deal with. Distancers can choose to move in and listen to someone who’s upset about something and try to help.  Identified Patients can think about what they can do about a problem, a part they can take in the solution. And the Outcast can let him or herself feel their own fear, sadness, and pain—and also the sadness, fear and pain of others.

Here’s an Exercise to Get You Started

Think about the following questions and write down your answers:

  1. Which role did you have in your family? How do you know?
  2. How did other people in the family act that got you more and more entrenched? How did your reactions to how they were behaving entrench you even more?
  3. Are you still playing that role in your relationships today? What are you still doing that’s part of the role?

Here’s an exercise that can help begin the process of moving you out of being stuck in your role:

If you’re used to being a Caretaker, you’re probably assuming that nobody can handle anything and that you have to do everything. Over time, you’ve taken on more and more responsibility for solving problems, for dealing with everybody’s emotional welfare—it’s your job to deal with everything! What if that’s not actually true?

  1. Try picking one thing you can back off from and let somebody else take care of.
  2. Try saying inside yourself “I don’t need to think about that now,” or “I don’t need to do anything about that right now,” or “That’s not my job to deal with right now.” Do it like a meditation. Pick a subject and sit there and say it to yourself over and over until you feel that you can let whatever it is go for now.

If you’re used to being a Distancer, it’s really hard to get motivated to get involved in anything like this, because it’s so easy and great for you most of the time. Usually you tell yourself that if someone is having a problem, it’s their problem and their responsibility to deal with it. It’s got nothing to do with you. So you might have to say to yourself that you’re doing it for the other person because you care about them and they’re in pain. If you can tell yourself that, here’s your exercise:

  1. Ask the person in pain to tell you what’s happening—what are they feeling, thinking. What they’re having a problem with. Really listen and focus.
  2. Try to feel into what it might feel like for them to be in this situation or this emotion that they’re feeling.
  3. Repeat to them what you imagine they’re feeling or experiencing.
  4. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help.
  5. Listen carefully to their answer and then do what they’ve asked of you.

If you’re used to being an Identified Patient, you probably feel in emotional pain a lot of the time, and you feel helpless, like there’s nothing you can do to make it better. You probably feel that other people are the ones that have the power, that they have all the choices, that they keep doing painful things to you and there’s nothing you can do to stop them.

  1. Do a meditation: Imagine you are the center of the universe and that everything else is secondary to you. You are huge and everyone else is very small. You are what’s important. You are the only thing that’s important. Keep with this until you really feel it.
  2. Think about what you want in a situation, how you would want it to be, what the ideal would be for you. Notice what you’re willing to offer on your end and what you’re not willing to do. Don’t think about what you want from the other person, only what you’re offering yourself.

If you’re used to being the Outcast, you’re probably angry a lot of the time. You’re so angry you want to do something drastic to wake people up. You don’t care if you get in trouble for it; you think people are outrageous, stupid, horrible, and they deserve whatever they get. You might notice that every time you get angry, afterwards your nervous system and your body are all jazzed up and you might recognize that you’re actually constantly retraumatizing yourself. You can’t get any peace. But I’m saying that you deserve some peace.

  1. Try feeling how hard things are for you, how painful it all is, how alone you feel. Really let yourself feel that. And notice how hard it is for you to go there. How much you want to just shut it all down again and be hard and numb. But if you can,
  2. Feel how sad it is to be in pain so much of the time.  Feel the grief of having spent so much time being shut out from other people’s love.
  3. Notice that you don’t know how to change how people react to you, and notice how helpless you feel about that. Just let yourself feel helpless, without having to do anything about it.
  4. It’s also useful to try to put yourself in another person’s place, to try to feel into what they’re going through and feeling, to imagine if that were happening in your life and imagine letting yourself feel the fear, sorrow, or pain rather than shutting it down.

 I’ve got a number of articles, blog posts and case studies on family roles. Check out my family role case study page , my Examiner.com articles, my E-zine article , my blog posts on family patterns and more on my website.