Category Archives: EFT

Recognizing childhood trauma

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Have you suffered a childhood trauma? Probably the majority of people if asked this question would answer ‘no.’ And yet many of them will be mistaken.

It may seem to you surprising how it is possible to be unaware of such a big thing as trauma – it is like overlooking an elephant in the room! Yet this is exactly what is happening. And the reason for that is that we simply don’t recognize an elephant for an elephant. Instead we see it as an integral part of the room’s interior.

When we hear the word ‘trauma’ we tend to think of a sudden shocking event with visibly manifest physical or/and emotional injuries. For example, surviving a car crash. Or being raped.

People who have lost one of their parents as children would sometimes say it was a trauma. Often, however, they would regard it just as a sad fact of life and won’t recognize that they have been traumatized by it.

Redefining trauma

We need to rethink then what we understand by trauma. I would say this: trauma is an event or a long-lasting situation that has a damaging impact on one’s emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing.

When trauma is not addressed promptly and thoroughly it usually has long-lasting effects, which may severely undermine one’s life. Unfortunately, traumas resulting from suffering a long-term emotional distress very often go unnoticed and untreated for years, until some major crisis hits and a person suddenly finds him/herself at the point of a breakdown. It is about this type of trauma suffered during childhood that I want to write in this blog.

Fundamental childhood needs

Contrary to what we are used to thinking, being a child is very challenging! Look what a huge difference there is between a new born baby and a two year old toddler, and between that toddler and a first grader. As adults we don’t normally experience comparable developmental leaps. We tend to live more or less in our comfort zone and won’t leave it by our own accord. Children, however, have no choice! They are hard pushed by the very nature of their growing and developing – physically, cognitively and psychologically. They have very little space to bask in the comfort zone. Mostly, it is an ongoing climb.

When you look at childhood like this you can begin to appreciate how much support children need in order to transition successfully through all the developmental stages. The fundamental basic needs include:

  • SAFETY (emotional and physical);
  • Unconditional affection and consistent engaged interest of their parents and caretakers;
  • The right to make mistakes;
  • The right to express their feelings and have them acknowledged;
  • Positive encouragement and validation.

Probably most of us didn’t have all these needs met equally well at all periods of our childhood. But some people, sadly, had to grow up with the exact reverse of these conditions. Read on to see if it might have been your case.

Traumatic conditions in childhood

Existential threat

If a child gets beaten up or witnesses physical violence between the parents or towards other siblings, the child will experience it as a threat to his/her survival. Similar fear is also being engendered in a child if she or he is being constantly shouted at or hears his/her parents shouting at each other.

The lack of healthy boundaries also makes children feel unsafe. Children need a holding structure, within which they can explore, experiment rebel and grow. Growing up in a chaotic household is like being on a boat without an anchor in the open sea. Growing up with overly rigid boundaries (which usually involves punishment for breaking them) is like living in a prison.

Psychological overload

Sometimes young children are made to carry a burden that is too big for their age. For example, in a family with several children and hard working parents the elder child (sometimes at quite a tender age) may become like a parent to her/his younger siblings. This person will skip the carefree stage of childhood and grow up feeling overburdened by the heavy sense of responsibility, finding it difficult to relax and just have fun.

It also happens that a child may become like a parent to their parents if one of the parents is seriously ill or depressed. The parent’s needs in such a situation become a priority and a child learns to suppress his/her own needs in order not to disturb or upset the parent. The message that the child ingests is that of his/her own unimportance. As adults these children often struggle to express themselves, to say ‘no’, to assert their rights and to appreciate themselves and their needs and desires.

Blame, guilt, shaming

Are you constantly feeling guilty about things? Do you believe it is your fault if something goes wrong at work or at home? If your mother misses a doctor’s appointment do you gnaw yourself for not having reminded her?

Persistent feelings of guilt are a symptom of a childhood trauma. They are the result of the culture of blaming and shaming, of being made responsible for your parents’ problems and unhappiness. If you were told by your mother that she has sacrificed her academic career for you, she was giving you a guilt trip. If you have been ridiculed for not knowing the name of some composer, you have been shamed for ‘ignorance.’ The shame about your mistakes transforms into pervasive shame about who you are. It is toxic and paralyzing.

Emotional neglect

In order to thrive children need to feel (not just know intellectually!) loved, welcomed and appreciated. They feel this if parents spend enough time with them, hold them, play with them, talk to them about things that matter to them and take interest in their activities. If parents are working long hours and are only at home to fix dinner and send the child to bed, the child will feel abandoned.

The lack of caring attention during childhood is like the lack of nutrients and vitamins. It stunts the person’s emotional/psychological growth and impairs the development of strong healthy self-esteem. Emotional neglect and abandonment have long-lasting effect and can seriously undermine one’s life and ability to be happy.

Emotionally unstable parents

Children of emotionally unstable and mentally ill parents are in the highest risk category. There is virtually no safe place for them. They suffer from neglect and abandonment because their parents are preoccupied with their own stuff. They have to tiptoe around their parents to prevent them from snapping and ‘flipping.’ They suppress their needs, while trying to guess their parents’ needs and desires and learn to please in order to get approval. They can’t express their own preference or feeling without having it invalidated by the parent who always ‘knows better.’ If they do get praised it is usually for doing something that reinforces the parent’s sense of self-value. Emotional connection is either non-existent or erratic. Or a child may be made a confidante of a parent and a recipient of their psychological unloading. These children have been heavily traumatized and need help.

Acknowledging versus blaming

As a rule, parents who have failed in their role of a parent have themselves suffered childhood trauma. They deserve empathy and compassion. But so do you! It is not about blaming it is about acknowledging the facts and helping what we can help. It is about breaking the chain of trauma transmitted through generations and healing your life and the lives of your children and grandchildren.

Please help me to help others

This blog article is the most general sketch on childhood trauma. To learn more please follow my Facebook page (Soultap Therapy) where I post links to other literature and resources.

Please share this article with your friends and people who may benefit from this information. And feel free to post comments or write to me if you have questions.

 

 

 

 

 

Tapping World Summit 2014

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or tapping) is a gentle and yet very powerful tool for achieving and maintaining emotional health and general wellbeing. EFT can be used for an amazing variety of things, big and small alike. It can aid recovery from a major emotional trauma and build up self-confidence and self-esteem. It is also instrumental in getting rid of our limiting beliefs and instilling new more powerful modes of thinking and relating to life. It has proven to be extremely effective in overcoming craving, fears and phobias and very often it also helps to relieve physical pain.

How does it work? Nobody exactly knows although a number of scientific studies that have been carried out suggest that tapping has an effect on amygdala, our “emotional brain.” But does it matter for EFT users if we don’t know exactly the how? Do we know how electricity works or computers work? Yet we rely on them every day. The important thing is that it does work!

Yet, in spite of the seeming simplicity, applying EFT in an efficient way requires some knowledge and skill. As it is known, EFT works best on very specific things. It treats the source of a problem in order to alleviate the symptoms. But how do we uncover the source? What approach do we follow? What words do we use?

If you like to learn more about using in EFT for yourself and to help others you may greatly benefit from a FREE online annual Tapping World Summit organized by Nick Ortner and Jessica Ortner. I take part in the summit every year and always learn something valuable from it. There are very knowledgeable presenters and Jessica is very good at conducting the interviews. The topics covered include:

  • overcoming stress and emotional pain from the past;
  • tapping for physical pain;
  • releasing anxiety and anger;
  • tapping for intimacy;
  • tapping for kids

And more!

The event starts on Feburary 24th. It is completely FREE and there are replays available for each interview. To register please follow this link:

http://www.tappingworldsummit.com.

Enjoy the event and share with me your thoughts and experiences!

Miracle healing

Longing for a miracle is deeply engrained in human heart. Even when we grow up the fairytales of our childhood do not completely lose their hold on us. No – they remain within us, even if just in the form of a half-acknowledged almost embarrassing wish that magic would happen and the impossible would come true! This wish intensifies when we are in pain and are searching for healing. The patience of somebody who has lived in pain (either emotional or physical) for a long time wears thin as pain is very tiring. And hence the desire to have the discomfort instantly removed is very understandable. Many people come to therapy (here I am speaking of therapy that has to do with emotions) precisely at this point. They have reached the limit of their endurance and they desire change. Instant change. But is that possible? Can such a miracle really happen so that a person would be healed in a moment?

The story of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), or rather its predecessor TFT (Thought Field Therapy), begins from this kind of seemingly miraculous healing incident. Mary, a patient of Roger Callahan (the founder of TFT) has been cured from the years of severe water-phobia with two minutes tapping. This promise of instant cure has become a hallmark of tapping energy therapy. Yet, as Gary Craig, the father of EFT wrote recently in his blog articles such kind of advertisements are misleading and may do disservice to people who are likely to become discouraged if they do not obtain immediate results. So shall we believe or not believe in the story of Roger Callahan’s patient? Does tapping do or do not produce a miracle healing?

One thing that gets overlooked in Mary’s story is that she had two years of psychotherapy with Roger Callahan prior to their breakthrough. During this work many issues surrounding her fear of water had presumably been addressed, so that when Callahan suggested her to try tapping she was ready for the radical shift. Her healing that appears to be an instant miracle was in fact a journey. At the end of it, having gone through many dark places, she suddenly came to a clearing. And this is how it is in most cases. Although tapping does indeed facilitate quicker release of pent-up energy (emotional and physical) it is only one of the ingredients, a stepping stone on the way to healing.

I want to tell you a fable shared with me by my friend and therapist colleague. Once upon a time there was a man who got lost in a desert. He walked and walked for many days and nights and was exhausted and thirsty. Suddenly he stumbled across an ancient bottle, half buried in the sand. He scraped off the seal and – with a whoosh – a jinni burst out. He thanked his liberator and said: “Tell me your wish – I will make it come true.” “Jinni, said the man, I want to go home.” Jinni took him by the hand and said simply: “Let’s walk then.” “No, jinni, you didn’t understand – I want to go home quickly!” – “Well, then let’s run!”

This little tale captures the myth and truth about therapy. A person who comes to therapy wants to get “home” quickly. Yet healing is a journey and a therapist can go with you at the pace that you are ready to take. Miracle is what happens as the journey unfolds. Essential ingredients that make the magic work are the person’s desire to be healed, their determination and their relationship with the therapist. Therapy is not a one way process. It is an engagement of two minds and spirits, a subtle interchange of energy, which challenges the set patterns of pain and brings about the transformation. This is what I see as a healing miracle. Through this experience of intimate human communion, through this journeying together a person discovers resources and healing powers within him or herself. And it means much more than simply removing a symptom.

Is EFT tapping compatible with Christianity? Video interview with Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward

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Can you think of the person – apart from your parents – who has influenced you most in your life? Somebody who had an impact on your way of thinking and relating to yourself and the world around you? For me Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward is such a person and it is a special pleasure and a privilege to share with you his radiant, open-hearted message. I met Simon ten years ago when I first came to Cambridge through my involvement in an interfaith dialogue program. And one of our first conversations was about meditation and different approaches to meditative practices in different religious and cultural traditions. Immediately I was struck by his open-mindedness, free of any shred of dogma and at the same time deeply grounded in his faith.

Simon and his wife Jean have become like spiritual parents to me and their home became for me (as it did for many people) a place of healing. They supported me throughout my struggle with my PhD and when I embarked on the path of therapy, it was Simon who encouraged me and urged me on. Indeed, Simon and Jean took part in one of my first EFT workshops and thus he really seems to be the best person to ask the questions that some people of Christian faith have been asking me:

  • Is EFT/tapping compatible with Christianity?
  • Is it okay for a Christian to practice non-Christian type of healing?
  • Is our physical body something bad or negative?

If you want to hear Simon’s view on these and other questions watch these videos below. Even though Simon speaks of Christianity, his message is really wider and can benefit a seeker from any spiritual and cultural background. His genuineness, inner freedom and love transcend the boundaries of Christian tradition and reach out to all of us, united in our humanity.

Emotions in the body

In my recent blogs I have discussed how our emotions and thoughts mutually affect each other, why it is important to become aware of them and how this can be achieved. Among other strategies, one of the ways for noticing our emotions is by paying attention to how they are reflected in our body (for example, we might get “butterflies in the stomach” when we are anxious). Today I want to explore the connection between our physical and emotional states in some more detail.

Probably every language has metaphors that describe emotional phenomena through a physical action or sensation. We are all familiar with such phrases as “to carry a burden on one’s shoulders,” “to hold one’s breath,” or “to suffer from a broken heart.” We use them all the time without pausing to ponder their meaning. But are they really only metaphors? As it turns out, many of these phrases quite literary reflect the response of the body to an emotional strain. Thus people who for a long time had to cope with a burden or grief, heavy responsibility or worry often have tense aching shoulders and stiff neck. A friend of mine who was nursing her husband dying of cancer while having to be strong and supportive to her young children has developed what is called a “frozen shoulder” that took over two years to heal.

When something frightens us, very often the automatic physical response is to hold our breath, which we let out when the danger (either perceived or real) has passed. However, as many of us may experience ongoing stress in our daily lives, we might not notice that we are not breathing properly. Our breath becomes shallow; we neither inhale nor exhale fully and thus it deprives our brain and our body of the oxygen they need to function optimally. A very simple way for releasing stress is to stop from time to time and take several deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. A couple of minutes of deep breathing can also help ward off a panic attack, and in such cases it is recommended to move your eyes upwards on the inhale and downwards on the exhale.

Anger, anxiety and other strong or persistent emotions have a tendency to get “stored” in the body. Interestingly, different people experience different parts of the body as containers of suppressed emotion. For some it will be the stomach, for others the heart, chest, head, shoulders, skin or joints. There are also body parts that may be affected by a particular type of emotion. Thus both Chinese and Western medicine traditionally linked the liver and gallbladder with anger. This perception is still reflected in the phrase “it galls me.” Speaking about myself, I know that I respond to aggravated stress with migraines and an ache under my shoulder blades. Emotional energy gets “converted” into a physical energy. It affects in a complex way the balance of hormones and other chemicals, which, if not taken care of, may lead to a serious illness.

The physical and the emotional parts of our being are not the isolated systems. One affects the other, and vice versa. Therefore, for our wellbeing it is important to take care of both. Tapping is very effective for releasing stress and negative emotions. Meditation is good for relaxation. Having regular talking therapy is also an excellent way for restoring and maintaining emotional balance. But apart from any techniques, we can achieve a lot by simply taking time to get in touch with our feelings. By tuning in and listening to our body and emotions in a non-judgmental way and offering love and acceptance to those parts of us that are aching to be heard, acknowledged and forgiven.

Ludmila Gin