With a heavy heart, I am following up on a post I wrote 30 days ago, Tap Your Way Into Right Thinking. In this post I challenged myself to a 30-day experiment: I would use the Emotional Freedom Technique of Tapping for 30 days to see if I could change my negative thought patterns concerning my relationship with food. Sadly, I failed this experiment, and I need to ‘fess up!
First, a little more background into the process called Tapping. Tapping, as best I understand it, is a therapy process that works by focusing on a painful thought, memory or belief while tapping with your fingertips on various specific energy points located throughout the body. There are 14 different energy points, called meridians, that are believed to compose an energy system within your body. Any negative emotion, such as envy, shame, anxiety, or the like, is due to a disturbance in this energy system.
So I figured I could use my negative belief that I cannot change my unhealthy relationship with food, apply the principles of Tapping, and see where I got at the end of 30 days. Here is what happened:
I practiced the steps outlined in the book faithfully for more than half the time, 16 days. I attempted to follow the directions to the letter for each of those sessions. Initially, the biggest stumbling block to this exercise was my complete skepticism of it. I was self-conscious, even if I was by myself. And when my kids walked in and asked what the heck I was doing, that was even worse. So while I attempted to be open-minded about the exercise, I definitely had a ways to go.
The second mistake I made, and I only realized this after the fact, was that I failed to stay completely focused on the negative belief throughout the exercise. Much like meditation, it was extremely difficult for me to stay in the moment. Thoughts of what I was going to do next, or who might walk into the room, or, even worse, the thought that this is a complete waste of time kept crowding into my head as I tried to focus and tap. As I researched a little further into this practice, I now realize that it is essential to focus solely on the negative belief you are looking to change.
If I were to hypothesize, the biggest barrier to this being an effective technique for me personally is my, I guess I can use the word ambivalence, to the philosophy behind it. I am sure that this technique could work for many people, I am just not sure I am one of them, and this thought, above all else, was probably blocking my ability to be effective.
So that I am not a complete Negative Nellie with this post, I will end with a positive experience I gained from this experiment. At some point during each of those tapping sessions, I felt a small but definite feeling of lightness, almost like a feeling of hopefulness. Sometimes, I would even get a thought such as, “Yes, I can develop a healthy relationship with food!” and it would feel almost exciting, like it was a breakthrough. The feeling was fleeting, but it was interesting, and it did recur.
So, tapping was not a complete waste of time, but, for me, the benefits were not strong enough or permanent enough to reinforce the routine. The minute my schedule got hectic, I forgot about it completely, and, by the time I remembered I was supposed to be doing it daily, a whole week had passed. I will chalk this one up to: nothing ventured, nothing gained!
When I finish this post, I will be preparing for the one-year anniversary of the meeting I started… more to follow on this subject tomorrow!
Yep, these are all the spots I tapped!
When I first started writing this blog, I was more or less writing to myself. I really never contemplated the idea that others would be reading, and this belief went on for quite some time (in retrospect, a lot longer than it should have, I am a little slow on the uptake!). Since that time, I have come to understand all of the wonders that come with connecting with others in the blogging world, and I am still blown away every time I read a new post from a friend, or receive an insightful comment on my own blog.
But with those blessings, a bit of a curse has descended upon me. When I was essentially writing to and for myself, I just wrote whatever was going on during that particular day (yes, I did write every day back in the beginning, it blows my mind now to think of it!). Now, I often feel stymied about what to write, and I finally realized that it is because I am looking at this blog through a new lens: will that be interesting to readers? Will they relate, or even care? Is it important enough to publish?
I have finally come full circle in this thinking, because if I had only written what I thought was important in the beginning, this blog would have ended a month into my first publish!
So, with all that prelude, let me tell you what’s been on my mind this week. It started about three days ago, with a trip to the library. We needed a book for a book report, but were running between sports practices and CCD class (religious education), so we only had 10 minutes. But if I’m in a library, I’m finding something for myself, because I love books! So I headed off to the self-help aisle (I am still enthralled by the promises these books make), and see a book called The Little Book of Diet Help, by Kimberly Willis. It is small, and at a glance, easy to read, so I checked it out and ran to the next activity.
As I glanced through the book, a heading captured my attention: Tapping out Negative Beliefs. It goes on to describe how to break the hold established beliefs have on your life. The exercise asks you to look at one specific negative belief, and immediately the thought came into my head: “I will never change my unhealthy relationship with food.” This thought surprised me in the speed with which it popped into my head, and with the specificity of the statement. Then I read further into the exercise, and it’s talking about tapping pressure points, and, while it sounds somewhat familiar, I really have no idea what the author wants me to do. This, by the way, is what you get for jumping around a book, rather than reading it page by page. Towards the end of this section, it references an earlier section of the book for more details on “tapping” (which tells me I am not alone in jumping around a book!).
So I go back to the tapping section, and I have my aha moment…. I know where I have read about this practice before! Lisa Neumann, wise mentor and author of the tremendously insightful book Sober Identity, had written about it, but it’s been over a year since I’ve read it, so the concept had escaped my memory.
My rudimentary understanding of tapping (and I am understating rudimentary, for a better explanation, please google the term!) is that it is an ancient practice of using your fingers to tap various pressure points on the body, which will shift the energy in your body, presumably from a negative energy to a positive one.
When I first read this, 3 days ago, I didn’t give it a half second thought. I put the book down and went about my evening. But every time I picked up the book, I kept going back to those pages, and I started considering:
- I was drawn to the book for a reason
- I was drawn to this section for a reason
- I had an immediate response to the question of negative beliefs holding me back.
So, as the week progressed, and my wheels of what to write became more and more stuck in the mud, I finally thought, “What have I got to lose? I can try this tapping thing and see what the hell happens!”
Full disclosure: my feelings about the idea of tapping my head to dispel almost 44 years worth of negative beliefs is that it will be as effective as dropping an eye of newt and a toe of frog into a bubbling cauldron. In other words, I am a skeptic. But, and maybe this is the progress of my recovery, I know that meaningful change requires both open-mindedness and consistent effort. And since my best thinking has me stuck with the same unhealthy relationship with food for as long as I can remember, I can certainly afford to be open to new ideas.
So we’ll consider this a little experiment. I did the full round of tapping that the book describes (and it was a lot… 14 different points, 8 taps each point, and there were 6 different affirmations for each round!), and I used the negative belief that I will never have a healthy relationship with food.
Here are the negatives: I felt very, very foolish as I started, which I believe hampered this experiment initially, and I needed to keep checking which was the next pressure point to tap, which was distracting.
Here are the positives: I got the hang of it before I was halfway through, and when I got to the second to the last affirmation (“I can allow myself to imagine what it would feel like if this belief weren’t true”), I did get a strange little hopeful fluttering, and I had vague waves of feeling lighter. Sounds ridiculous, even as I’m typing it, but it’s the truth.
I would imagine that this is the type of thing that gets easier and more effective with practice, so I am committing to this exercise daily for 30 days, and I will check in weekly and let you know how things progress. Will I be a supermodel by next month? Stay tuned!
I’ll take an anniversary any way I can get one, so today I am celebrating 20 months of sobriety!