I recently had the privilege of being invited to take part in the Tapping Summit. Some of you may have listened to my presentation on "Healing from Addictions." One important point I make is that real, lasting change usually requires more than quitting the addictive behaviour. Unless we get at and resolve the unresolved emotional issues that drive the behaviour it may actually be the best ‘quick fix’ available to you, but it won't last. No one wants to relapse or switch one addiction for another, but that is often what happens when we are relying one sheer white-knuckled willpower. My experience tells me that usually the addiction is an attempt at a solution, and we need to hear and understand its message. In this article I would like to give you an idea of how to work with the problem, using EFT, to find the solution that will be hidden in it.
Looking at our current relationships is a good place to start the emotional work. Who is upsetting you, or making you angry or uncomfortable in some way? Here is a hint – take your pick from your partner, mother, boss, brother, husband, father, neighbour etc etc?! Feeling powerless creates unbearable internal stress which needs to be soothed in whatever way works for us. When you realise the various ways you have given away your power to both your drug of choice and to the people you have made responsible for the way you feel, you are on the road to real freedom.
Here is an interesting example of Karen and her chocolate addiction that seemed to come out of the blue. It was actually a messenger that allowed her to resolve an old issue which had been triggered in her current relationship with her partner.
The Background to Karen’s Problem
Karen was a client I had worked with in the past and had recently made an appointment to come and see me again. We had already worked on and cleared a range of issues including a problem with alcohol. As she emerged from her addictive behaviour with alcohol we had worked on her self image, self esteem and being single. As she had become more loving towards herself she had moved on in all areas of her life and begun a relationship with a wonderful partner. I hadn’t seen her for at least a year when she phoned and made an appointment.
Karen told me that her relationship was good and strong and she was still amazed at herself and the life they were having together. The problem was that just recently she had started to overeat chocolate. Once she started she just could not stop. She had put on weight as a result of it and was feeling very out of control. She had no idea why this should be happening now. She knew her partner loved her. They wanted to be together, and they had committed to sharing their lives with each other...in fact they were coming up for their 2nd anniversary. Despite everything she ‘knew’ she said there were times when she felt very afraid and kept having the thought that he would leave her after 2 years. The more the 2 year anniversary approached the worse she was feeling and the more the chocolate thing was getting out of control.
Deciding What to Work On and Where to Start
I noticed three important things:
- Karen had a lot of strong negative feelings which she was self medicating with chocolate.
- She kept coming back to a fear of loss. When she was thinking about her partner Simon it was in terms of how much she had to lose, rather than how much she loved him.
- There was some kind of connection between the two-year anniversary, the fear and the need to eat chocolate (the temporary solution or quick fix).
Karen’s unconscious mind was speaking volumes and had really given me all the information I needed, verbally and non verbally, in just a few minutes. The place to start here was with the uncomfortable feelings about Simon. In other words, to take a look to the relationship:
Me: When you think about Simon how do you feel?
Karen: Oh...I really love him...(heels digging in to floor!)...
Me, interrupting: No... how do you really feel ...in those moments when you have to go and eat chocolate...?
Karen: Oh...actually I feel really afraid. Small and childish...sort of not enough. Sometimes numb, just blank...Or I am angry and clingy...
She remembered a time recently when she had provoked a tiff and told him she didn’t need him (which was not really how she felt at all).
Her voice, as she talked, was higher than usual – almost whispering. She was feeling the feelings as she was describing them:
Me: Where abouts in your body do you feel this?
Karen: It’s like a big weight on my chest...and tightness in my breath....heaviness around my heart.
What We Did
We began tapping (using the short cut points) on the various thoughts and feelings, alternating the focus between the physical feelings and the phrases she had used to describe her emotions:
this heaviness around my heart
this weight on my chest
tightness in my breath
I feel so small when I see him
I don’t need him...he irritates me
As we continued the feelings intensified...and Karen said she felt “helplessly angry."
Me: Is “helplessly angry” connected to the situation now?
Karen: Yes..it is... but it seems old as well...
We continued tapping:
This old anger
This ancient helpless anger
Quite quickly the feelings shifted to sadness:
Karen:....I don’t know why I just feel sure he will leave me when we get to two years.
Again taking her words:
I don’t know why.. I just feel sure he will leave me
I wonder why I feel so sure...he will leave me
I don’t know why....he’s going to leave me
Something about 2 years..
Something about 2...
Suddenly something flashed across her face....
Me: What happened then?
Karen: It was a memory. I remembered the day my sister was born and everything changed. I was 2. I guess I had something good going on for two years and then it was taken away. I was the oldest and when my sister came along I just knew it was over. And it was. I was expected to be big sister and like mum... and then every year or two another one came along... (Karen was the oldest of 6 children).
We carefully tapped through the whole story, including what she had seen, heard and felt – screams from the bedroom, doctors and neighbours rushing in, hushed voices, being told to go away. When she felt calm and grounded she realised she had made certain decisions and created particular beliefs about herself, as a direct result of her experience. At age 2 she was suddenly no longer the centre of anyone’s world. She summed up her decision as, "Good things only last 2 years!" alongside the beliefs: "I don’t matter.... there’s not enough time... or love.. or care.. or interest in me..." all fused with the idea of being 2 and good things
only lasting 2 years. And then the whole thing had repeated itself roughly every 2 years as another sibling was born.
We continued tapping through all the aspects of the memory until Karen felt calm and peaceful. Then we finished with:
I understand this now
I accept this now
I release this now
At this point Karen felt enormous compassion and love for her younger self - the little girl who wasn’t much more than a baby. She understood how coming up to her 2 year anniversary was ringing alarm bells in her unconscious mind. Now though, through the work she had done, instead of bringing pain and loss it brought the opportunity for healing. The chocolate addiction and the anger and sadness driving it were the messengers and Karen was able to receive the gift.
After this session the chocolate addiction disappeared as did the feelings of fear and smallness and anger. There was simply no need for the problem to exist any more. She didnt need to give her power away to chocolate, or anything else - nor did she need to project negative feelings on to her partner. I didn’t see Karen for a while but she emailed to say she was getting on with her life and her relationship!
Whenever you are dealing with addictions you will find that current relationships are full of opportunities for healing. When we are no longer carrying around our unresolved conflicts from the past the need to self-medicate just drops away. This approach and many others are detailed in my book Healing the Addicted Heart: 5 Stages of Transformation. The book has many ideas and practical exercises which are keys to real and lasting change. It leads us through the 5 stages of transformation accessing previously unconscious material, releasing it with the tapping and making a choice to live in a new, more loving way. I believe passionately in this work because, inevitably, as we make peace inside ourselves we create a more loving, kinder world.
Sue Beer is AAMET Accredited Certified EFT Master Trainer in London, UK. She is also one of the EFT Founding Masters. Find her on the web at www.theeftcentre.com.
Originally published on January 30, 2011.