CreatingTherapeutic Fairy Tales: Here’s Another One

I’m always amazed how working metaphorically helps evoke what’s deep inside clients to unearth solutions. It almost feels magical sometimes. For a while now, I’ve been excited as a new way of using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) has been creating itself for me and my clients.

Here’s What We Do

It works really well with long-term patterns that have created emotional pain over the years, but it also works with just about anything. Often, these patterns developed because of negative childhood family dynamics.

I ask my clients to describe what happens when this pattern occurs in their lives, and to describe their experience when it happens. As they’re describing all of this, I watch out for images. If the image that strikes me also seems important to the client, we start to create a metaphorical story—more like a fairy tale in that it uses images and metaphor rather than literal events.

At the beginning, there’s just the original image. We use EFT Tapping on that. As a result, more and more of the story emerges and finally a solution to the problem emerges in the form of a metaphor. From that, clients frequently realize how they can manifest the solution literally in their lives. We continue with EFT Tapping until it’s really anchored in. Then, often, changes start to happen!

Client With Painful Childhood Family Dynamics

The story below was co-created with a client (identifying details changed) who was subjected to repeated physical abuse and emotional abuse and who had seen her siblings beaten, too. She felt powerless to help her siblings and to stop the abuse. As a result, in her current life, she often went through times where she spiraled down into depression.

Here’s the Therapeutic Story That Emerged:

Whirling

There is a powerful, murky swirling whirlpool in the middle of a deep river. It pulls in everything that comes near. Swirling and roiling in the whirlpool are jagged shards of broken glass; twisted pieces of metal sharp as knives; huge broken tree branches; poisons from a hundred factories and—a tiny baby boy, arms flailing, unbelievably keeping his head above water—just barely.

His mother, wanting to be rid of him and not knowing who he was, threw him into the whirlpool, thinking that would be the end of him. But the baby woke up suddenly, gasping, drowning, totally panicked. He had barely started life and, as happens with babies, it now seems that this IS his life: this gasping, drowning, whirling and swirling amid broken glass, knife-sharp twists of metal, huge logs of wood and murky brown poison sludge. And the noise! The roar of the water drowns him even more than the water itself.

He swirls so quickly that soon he begins to whirl around his own axis, like a tiny flailing world inside the whirling of the water-galaxy. Soon even the contents of his head are whirling and swirling inside his skull. He realizes that his mother threw him into this whirlpool and that he is meant to be dead. But “HAH!” he thinks, “I’m not dead! I’m still here.”

With this thought, even though he’s still whirling in the roiling water along with everything else, the inside of his head is no longer spinning. Although his whole universe is still a giant roaring whirlpool, he’s no longer whirling around his own axis like a tiny world in a water-galaxy.

Suddenly, his glance is caught by something in the distance, something outside his universe: a huge, 200-foot tall tree, with many branches thick as giants’ legs and leaves luscious green, the tree solid and deeply rooted into the earth beside the river. The baby is riveted by the sight of something so solid, so REALLY THERE.

“Oh, how I wish I could be there!” he thinks. And with the thought, the tree bends one of its long branches to the middle of the river, and, as the baby rushes by, he reaches out his arms and grabs hold of the branch. At the same time, the tree raises its branch and lifts the baby out of the whirlpool and sets him safely into the crook of a branch, and holds it in its tree-arms.

No longer deafened by roaring water, the baby hears an amazing new sound. It’s coming from tiny birds sitting on the tree’s branches: warbling and tweeting and chirping.

“Wow!” thinks the baby. He’s totally charmed.

The birds check out the newcomer and, finding him harmless and rather cute, gather twigs as a community and build a nest around him. It takes a whole bird community because babies are way bigger than birds.

He also hears a chittering and looks up. Squirrels are running up and down the trunk of the tree. They gather nuts and berries and fruits and lay them in the baby’s nest. The birds and squirrels can tell he’s pretty useless when it comes to feeding himself, so they do it for him, dropping things into his mouth. He laughs whenever they do that.

Eventually, the baby learns to crawl along the branches of the tree. Whenever he misses a handhold and starts to fall, the tree catches him with its branches and lifts him right back up to his nest. After a while, he’s a limb-crawling expert, and he’s peering through the leaves and branches way, way down to the bottom of the tree.

“I wonder what’s down there,” he asks no one in particular. He’s noticed the squirrels seem to be able to make it all the way down to the ground. He jumps carefully from branch to lower branch, spiraling all the way down and with a thump lands on his feet on the ground at the bottom of the tree. The ground feels really solid and HUGE. It seems to go on and on forever.

The squirrels and birds, knowing what was coming, have made him a knapsack out of a huge leaf. It’s stuffed full of nuts and berries, and soon so are his pockets.

He throws his arms around the tree and gives it a giant hug. He pats the tiny heads of the squirrels and birds, gives them a big wave and strides off into the world. As he fades off into the distance, suddenly, several boulders in the river shift their position, and the river runs swift and clean.

© Zoë Zimmermann, 2012

Wishing you a free and joyous life,
Zoë

EFT Helps With PTSD, Part 3

PTSD: Everything Startles You or Makes You Mad

 When you’ve been terrified or hurt, either once or many times, one after-effect can be that you’re hypersensitive to anything that happens inside you or around you that reminds you even slightly of that event or pattern of events. Automatically and immediately, your body reacts with fear and your emotions ratchet up. Your heart rate might go up, you might get hot or go into a cold sweat, you might have trouble breathing, your muscles may tense up—when other people would just notice something and not be affected at all. One word for this is “hyperarousal.”

Tornado Across the Alley

I had a client whose neighbors’ house was demolished by a tornado. My client was in his own house, just across the alley, and heard that horrible roar and saw the black swirling cloud out his kitchen window. The tornado missed his house, but his body, mind and emotions continued to feel the threat. A year later, he still couldn’t sleep, small unexpected rushing sounds still made his heart beat faster, and he had sudden unexplained anxiety all through the day and night.

EFT Tapping Eliminated PTSD Symptoms

Usually several sessions of EFT tapping—moving through tapping on the sound, the sight of the tornado, the terror, the anticipation, seeing the neighbor’s house being mowed down, the general feeling of helplessness, the fear of a recurrence—will clear up the symptoms of PTSD from an event like this.  With this particular client, there had been previous trauma, and so we started with earlier events that brought about anxiety reactions similar to those brought on by the tornado. Within one session, he was able to sleep again and within a couple more, his general anxiety was down.

Emotional Freedom With EFT

Usually one to three EFT Tapping Sessions clears a single frightening or painful event. More complicated situations—such as when a person has PTSD from multiple accidents, a pattern of childhood abuse or neglect, war experiences, and other more complex traumas—will take longer. But relief often begins quickly and PTSD symptoms, including hyperarousal, generally continue to drop off quickly. And generally, whatever symptoms have been eliminated are permanently eliminated. The definition of emotional freedom!

For more information on PTSD, see my previous blogs, EFT Helps With PTSD, Part 1Part 2–Self-Destructive and Impulsive Behavior , and my website, EFT-Emotionalfreedom.com .

Wishing you a free and joyous life,

Zoë

EFT Helps With PTSD, Part 2

Self-Destructive and Impulsive Behavior

 

Abusive Families Create PTSD Symptoms

In abusive families, children often suffer physical abuse or sexual abuse or their parents criticize them severely or play painful mind-games. A child might see or hear something that’s wrong and try to say something about it, but her parents might tell her that it’s not really happening or that she’s crazy. If she tells her parents she doesn’t want them to do what they’re doing or that it hurts her feelings if they say cruel things to her, they ridicule her, put her down or tell her they’re not doing whatever they’re doing. This is psychological abuse. Abuse often results in PTSD symptoms. (See my blog entry, EFT Helps With PTSD, for a definition of PTSD and some introductory background).

Children Suffering From Childhood Abuse Are Powerless

When children are abused, they often have no recourse—no one is there to help them. They’re trapped, and they don’t know a way out. As young children, parents are like mirrors for us, showing us who we are by the way they act toward us. If they are constantly criticizing or hurting us, the mirror is showing us that we’re ugly or wrong or stupid. And because we have no other input, we automatically believe it.

Childhood Abuse Creates Self-Destructive and Impulsive Behavior

Having a mirror that says we’re ugly and wrong creates a split in us. On the one hand, we believe it and start to beat upon ourselves just like they do; we hurt ourselves. On the other hand, there’s a healthy core in us that’s really angry about being treated so badly. Unfortunately, children have few relationship tools; often their way of expressing this anger is to act out impulsively or aggressively. This gets them in trouble in the larger world, which usually doesn’t understand the root of their behavior.

Negative Self-Image, Self-Destructive and Impulsive Behavior Continues into Adulthood

Whatever is mirrored to us as young children stays with us into adulthood. This is because we learned from this mirror before we ever knew we were learning anything. It unconsciously becomes our worldview and our self-view. And the way we learn to react to it to survive emotionally becomes an automatic habit that continues on into adulthood. But I’ve seen that we can change all of this.

EFT Helps With PTSD Symptoms of Childhood Abuse

EFT is amazingly effective with the PTSD symptoms caused by childhood abuse and other causes of PTSD and healing pain, both physical and emotional pain. For more details, see my website EFT-Emotionalfreedom.com.

Wishing you a free and joyous life,

Zoë