Even though anxiety comes in so many different varieties and with so many different labels, none of them are ‘all in your head’! You are not making it up. You really are having the upsetting feelings and thoughts and yucky sensations in your body. You really do feel confused and stressed and out of control. And you probably feel alone. And you probably don’t know what to do about it. How would you?
But having any form of anxiety doesn’t mean that you are broken. It’s not a flaw in your character or a negative statement about your value. It’s a biological human experience that you are having- one that every single person experiences to some extent or another. And you’re having it because the emotional centre of your brain, the amygdala, is overwhelmed trying to process all the information it’s gathered in order to do its job of keeping you physically and emotionally safe. Honestly, it’s biological. Sometimes the amygdala gets to the point where it has ‘had enough’. It is overwhelmed and can’t cope and because it’s worried that you’re in danger, it sends out stress hormones to get you to fight or flee. Sometimes the overwhelm of information is coming from things happening out in the world; things like a good friend rejecting you, or your grandmother becoming ill or having to make a big decision like where you want to go to school. And sometimes the overwhelming information is coming from inside of you; thoughts that you are alone, that you’re not good enough in some way or that you aren’t going to be able to perform well enough to satisfy yourself or someone else and something terrible will happen as a result.
It’s stress. And your job is to calm down your little amygdala. There are lots of ways that you can do that – really good ways. Some are self-help strategies done by you for you, and some are done in a caring relationship with someone trained to help. Some have been around for a while and others are pretty novel. Breathing for example – has been around for a long time. I highly recommend it. Meditation – also been around for thousands of years even though it’s just catching on in our western culture. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps you manage your thoughts so that you can learn to behave in more helpful ways. Great idea.
And then there’s the new kid on the block – Energy Psychology. It’s only been around for about twenty years. But it’s based on acupressure points that have been around for thousands of years. It includes all the earlier techniques like breathing and meditation and CBT - and it goes a bit further by focusing in directly on where the core of the upset is in the brain and the body. It has lots of science and research behind it showing that it works for reducing stress, anxiety, food cravings, trauma, phobias, pain and physical ailments and performance anxiety. http://www.neftti.com/articles-and-research-on-eft/ Over 15 million people across the world are using it as a self- help tool as well as with their coaches and therapists.
Energy Psychology is a holistic approach, has no negative side effects and gives people greater power to calm their brains and bodies so they feel better, think more clearly and enjoy life more.
The easiest form of Energy Psychology to learn is Emotional Freedom Techniques or tapping. EFT/tapping often works so quickly to calm an upset amygdala that it’s hard to believe! In fact, that has a name – when the anxiety is gone so fast that you can’t even remember that you had the problem. It’s called the apex effect.
It’s easiest to learn EFT/tapping in 3 levels. The Bronze, the Silver and the Gold Standards. The Bronze and Silver you can learn and practice yourself while the Gold standard is what you do with someone professionally trained in how to do it. More information about training and certification is available at www.NeftTI.com
BRONZE STANDARD EFT/tapping
To do bronze tapping just tap on the nine different acupressure points shown on the diagram or watch the video. Tap on each point about 5 - 7 times and then go to the next one. Tap about as hard as you would on a piano key. Doesn’t matter which hand or which fingers or which side of the body you use. You can’t do this wrong and you can’t hurt yourself.
Start on the side of your hand, then your eyebrow, side of eye, under eye, under nose, chin, collarbone, under arm and top of head. Then take a breath. That’s a round of EFT. Just notice how you are now. Rinse and repeat the tapping round until you feel calm and able to think more clearly.
You can do this at any time and anywhere you’re feeling stressed or when you want to perform at your best. During a test, while studying, before an important conversation, before giving a presentation, before an artistic or athletic performance, while talking to your parents, when you want to devour that bag of chips...
And you don’t have to be feeling stressed before you start – doing EFT/tapping before you get stressed is a really powerful way to keep the amygdala from sending out that fight/flight alarm. So much easier to keep it calm than to bring it back after it’s gone off.
SILVER STANDARD EFT/tapping.
Now we add some words that are designed to laser focus the brain and body on where it’s actually upset. The bronze level is great for reducing stress but the silver level gets more specifically to where the upset actually lives and eliminates it at its core.
We use exactly the same acupressure points, in the same way.
While tapping the side of the hand say this: Even though ‘I have this issue’ I accept myself exactly as I am right now. Do that three times.
Now move to your eyebrow and just say ‘this issue’ while tapping. (You don’t do the ‘I accept myself exactly as I am right now’.) Do the same on the rest of the points. Take a breath or two at the end and just notice how you are now. Rinse and repeat.
For example – say you heard that your friend said something negative about you and you are feeling angry with them. Before you send that vicious text … try this.
While tapping on the side of your hand: Even though ‘I am soooo angry at her for saying that’ I accept myself exactly as I am right now. Even though ‘I am sooo angry at her for saying that’ I accept myself exactly as I am right now. Even though ‘I am sooo angry at her for saying that’ I accept myself exactly as I am right now. Then go to your eyebrow point and say ‘I am sooo angry at her for saying that’, then side of eye ‘I am sooo angry at her for saying that’, under eye – same thing and so on for all the points. Take a breath and notice how angry you are. If you’re still angry, rinse and repeat with the same words.
Maybe you’re not angry anymore – maybe you’re sad now. So the next round you would tap on the side of your hand and say ‘Even though ‘I am sad about her saying that’ I accept myself exactly as I am right now.’ You’d say that three times. Then go to the rest of the points and say ‘I am sad about her saying that.’ At the end of the round take a few breaths and see what is true for you now. Get the idea? You just keep working on what surfaces for you.
It’s so important to say that this is not about ‘getting rid’ of your anger or any of your feelings – your feelings are powerful ways to help you clearly define who you are and what’s important to you. This IS about taking control of your brain - not letting it impulsively react to the situation – giving yourself time to figure out what behaviour would be the most helpful. Calming down your emotional amygdala lets your thinking brain come back on line so that you feel calmer and can make the best decisions about what to say and do. Maybe you still decide to send a text – but it will be a different text than before you started tapping!
Here’s more good news. Sometimes people get to this point in their learning and they say … I understand how to tap on the points (Bronze) and I get how to say the words (Silver) but I don’t know what words to say. If that’s you – let me help. There are millions of YouTube videos with people using EFT on any issue you can think of. You just tap along with them. And lots of apps for your mobile devices too. Here’s a link to a tapping script on reducing stress that might be helpful. There are many books/dvd’s on using EFT/tapping with specific topics – you can read and tap along. On the NeftTI.com website home page there is a free gift of an online EZTapping program where you pick the issue you want to work on (anxiety, weight loss, body image, etc) and for30 days the program sends you an email with the tapping script for that day. www.NeftTI.com
Sometimes you’ve had, or are still having, experiences that are very serious and intense. Or maybe you’re feeling so lost and confused and helpless that it’s hard to do the EFT/tapping on your own. That’s normal and that’s when you’d want to reach out to someone who is trained in how to work with you with GOLD STANDARD EFT/tapping. The National EFT Training Institute, www.NeftTI.com, has many trained and certified coaches and therapists who can help you release your overwhelming feelings and change the behaviours that are hurting you. Just email [email protected] and we’ll find the right person for you.
Dea Sejko, Emotional Wellness Mentor for Youth, and certified EFT Practitioner (NeftTI) is a young person who discovered EFT/tapping and used it to help herself through many challenges. In this video she describes what high school was like for her and how working through her issues with EFT led her to discover a passion for helping other young people do the same.
Nancy Forrester MBA, B.Ed., B.Sc.
Clinical Member Ontario Society of Psychotherapists,
Executive Director, National Emotional Freedom Techniques Training Institute
Accredited Master EFT - Trainer of Trainers (AAMET International)