Weaving Through A Complex Case
When clients have challenges that include a combination of blocked memories and dissociation, offering constant reassurance and respecting where they find themselves in every moment we share with them is essential to their success. Gentleness not only during sessions, but with how we suggest they invest their time between sessions represents a key to their success. These are not cases where heroics or speed, on their part or ours, are appropriate. A gentle unfolding, allowing for the natural occurrence of the process to take place not only ensures success, but helps eliminate the potential for re-traumatization, in or between sessions.
Clients may be enthusiastic about wanting to make progress on their own between sessions and ask you for suggestions. Sometimes the wisest answer to offer is that they "coast", and allow body and mind to process the work you have done together. Many times this is a great tool for learning exactly how much they were able to process and where to pick up now to go further. The benefits are many which include, but are not limited to, a greater sense of self-awareness and a feeling of being more connected with themselves. New realizations tend to surface and they begin to take notice of the difference in how they perceive themselves and the world, both positive and negative. There will also be those who are terrified by the thought of tapping on their own, convinced they will surely open Pandora's box and/or step into a place of no return, and this too should be respected. Chances are tapping alone will not be in their best interest, unless it is to manage rising anxieties.
When we respect these needs and stay on the path with them, we can end up pleasantly surprised with what begins to unfold.
A great example is what began to take place with a client who was fully aware that she was presently, and for most of her life, disconnected from who she was in an effort to survive and play things safe. A family with exceedingly high standards, that saw anything other than caring for things or others as selfish, self-centered and wrong, left her the idea she was undeserving and defeated before she began anything. It also meant she didn't pursue many of the things she longed to do, convinced these activities either would not measure up, or she would never be able to accomplish them. Add to this limiting belief many blocked traumatic events, and you begin to get the picture. There was no way it was safe to be herself or accomplish anything that equated to significant in her eyes.
In spite of it all, she employed brilliant coping and survival strategies that saw her through, but repeatedly found herself in circumstances that reflected and affirmed past realities. The pain eventually became too much and she found the courage to seek assistance.
Here's a sampling of "weaving through" with cases such as these. This is a client I work with over the phone and have done several sessions with. Take note of the dissociative coping mechanism of "escaping to the beach", when at least a "part" becomes resistant to remaining in the present.
This represents a session following some time of letting things settle between sessions:
When I inquired about how things had been going, her response was something like this:
In the first few days, it was like 'Wow - What a relief! I don't have to think about this, or worry about this!' but then the thoughts began creeping in... This is what's in my head, 'You shouldn't be doing this. Then I didn't know what to do because if you are not supposed to be doing this, what should you be doing?' I didn't know what I was to do.
My response: You didn't know or, were you giving yourself a bad time again?
Client: Exactly! "Should" The magic "S" word! And I didn't mention that the little girl has disappeared. I can't find her anywhere. And one of the things I've been aware of throughout life - but haven't thought about, is that whenever I'm in bed and anyone comes into room that I am aware of, I try to stop my breathing. Is there a point when all this gets left behind or do we always keep trying to figure out what's going on?
In my response I suggested that the "don't move/don't breathe" might be an indication of being on guard, dealing with an undercurrent of anticipation related to the blocked memories. To her, this was an entirely new concept. She had never thought of it that way before. She felt there must have been some kind of threat, but put it off as perhaps her response was something like kids trying to pretend be asleep so someone doesn't tell them to go to sleep.
She also shared, "It's like a part of me wants to know what happened - but I don't want to experience it. Then there is a part trying to solve it - Why on earth would it have happened?"
We talked about the fact that it is not same for everybody. Everyone reacts and responds differently and while similar each has its own uniqueness. The habits and patterns became a natural survival strategy, "I have to be still." She shared more of what she experiences - her heart rate increasing and the feeling, "I have to control myself." Again it is anticipation.
She told me that since our first conversation about dissociation, she had been putting things aside, "It's as if I have known all along, but didn't have a clue." The realization was setting in that it was her defense mechanism and how she didn't have an idea what she would do without it. Her belief that she wouldn't know what to do without it is quite common and, to many, letting go of their issue is like letting go of their best friend.
Even when there is a willingness to let it go, the internal defense system can generate blocks and walls, and when the walls begin to dissolve, typically fear sets in. After all, dissociation has kept us safe. Be prepared to address that sense of fragility that comes with letting it go and accepting the fact that it is okay to be just who they are.
You will notice as your work together with your client that the path can quickly change and we need to respect and follow it, taking things as they come and stepping away from "Classic EFT." It means switching gears with less than a moment's notice, maintaining careful notes so that you can return to pieces that you feel are unfinished. Many times what you may perceive couldn't possibly have cleared; you will find has cleared when you return and explore those particular pieces. In this case, the willingness to let go along with the idea that it might be fun to feel more adventurous was present, but it came with concern and anger. Both are to be expected.
In this situation, the anger had proven to be both friend and nemesis. As a result of recent progress, she found that the anger empowered her to step out and try something completely different and succeed and it felt great. The flip side of the anger was being terrified that she could actually hurt someone.
Things were stirring, and the need to remember and understand exactly what had happened was surfacing, in spite of the idea it could be let go of without recalling the memory. A few unsettling thoughts surfaced as to who the perpetrator might have been. I inquired as to how frequently she found herself caught up in trying to figure it out and how it was affecting her. It all went back to the little girl who was nowhere to be found (mentioned earlier), the racing heart and fear.
Even though I know I have all this memory and emotion, still stored in the cells of my being and every once in a while they remind me, it makes me feel fearful, doubt myself, I am ready to begin to let it go now.
Even though I keep feeling this memory and emotion in my body and the fear begins to rise, I am choosing to let it go now.
Through the sequence: all this fearful memory and emotion, the part of me that has brilliantly locked the memory down, that brilliantly worked to protect me from experiencing all that emotion, all this fear, still locked in on a cellular level. I am letting every part of me know; it is ok to let it go now.
I could hear the disconnect in her voice as we went through that piece, and she offered instant confirmation when I checked in with her. I explained to her that while I felt the disconnect, the hope was to feed the subconscious mind anyway. She was quite open to that but acknowledged that she definitely preferred to be elsewhere. It was time to see what we could do to allow her to feel a little safer with being present.
Even though I am choosing time on the beach, because I don't really want to feel this, I am terrified of it; I choose to be present anyway.
Even though I much prefer a walk on the beach, I don't want to have anything to do with this - I am asking my subconscious mind, body, mind and spirit, to free me now from this old memory and emotion that I don't want to re-experience.
Through the sequence: Don't want to be here, rather be on the beach, way too uncomfortable, part of me has already left, and that's ok, because the stronger, smarter part of me is determined to free me in this moment.
For her this was a home run. She reported she was able to take a deep breath without being prompted, and while she almost cried it was happy. She was touched to think that something was going to handle it for her. She was relieved but anxious.
Even though this is just too big for me to take care of, too big and scary, I am so happy and grateful that my subconscious mind, body, mind and spirit are taking care of it for me now. I don't have to worry about it; I can just let it go.
Through the sequence: I can forget about it, know my subconscious mind, is getting the message, and body, mind and spirit are all working in unison, to finally free me, from all this pain. I am so happy and grateful, that I can just let this go, and begin to trust, that good care is being taken, and I can finally feel safer and freer, doing exactly as I please, choosing to achieve, whatever my heart desires.
Again she was touched, but no idea about her heart's desires, but excited by the possibility she could achieve. The concerns surfaced, including the fact that things go away as quickly as they come - especially joy.
Even though I am afraid to have hope, because I am convinced that anything good, anything positive simply can't last, and I will only be hurt more, I'd like to have hope anyway...
Even though I am truly afraid to have hope, afraid to experience joy and success, because part of me convinced, it will only bring pain...
Through the Setup I could hear the emotion in her voice off and on, so paused to check in with her. She was uncertain as to the reason - so I assured her she didn't have to know the why, that we could continue to tap and assume, unless she said differently, that we were on the right track. With her agreement and a careful ear tuned to her, I continued:
Through the sequence: Terrified, simply not safe, someone will take it away, someone will dash my dreams, terrified, can't go for success, defeated before I begin, but I'd like to see things differently now. Terrified, not allowed, if I begin to have too much joy, it will surely be taken away, I will surely be hurt again, defeated before I start, and I don't dare run the risk of being defeated again, of being taken to task, but a little at a time, I'd like to let this go, reminding every cell of my being, that I am supported, that body, mind and spirit are working with me now.
When I checked in with her, she reported that it sometimes felt as if she were just repeating words, but at a certain point she had faith that within somewhere the bricks moved around.
Something different was surfacing she wanted to talk about, but said she couldn't due to fear, embarrassment and other emotions, "I don't know, don't know - just want to take a walk on the beach."
We began: Even though we are getting way too close for comfort, and I simply don't want to go there...
Her response: No I don't want to, its wrong, embarrassing, it's wrong -I would like to go there, but I CANNOT, and I hope you know what I am talking about - open to you raising the issue, but I cannot - but I will stop you if you get too close!
I continued: Even though I'd like to go there (Client: part would) it is too embarrassing - it is wrong, I choose to see myself, choose to FEEL myself.
Client interjects: NO NO!!!! (quite emotional, sobbing)
I let her know I was tapping for her...
Client: "No" had nothing to do with "that word" emotion (memory/feelings)
It is important to know when it is time to let the tears flow, realizing it is okay to let the tears happen because it is a form of release and not something to try to stop. This requires being tuned in to what they are experiencing.
Client: The word is "wrong" - I am going to beach and take a suntan.
I responded: I will continue tapping and talking - jump in if you choose when you can.
Even though I am feeling all the pain of this, and still convinced, it was simply wrong, so wrong, that I can't seem to love and forgive myself.
Beginning at the top of the head: Even though it is all just wrong, I'd like to be ok now.
Client: I don't know - and it is still wrong.
Continuing: Still wrong, so wrong, it could never be righted, it was wrong, and it is still wrong, it is unforgiveable, unchangeable, wrong, how could I ever see it any other way, how could I ever feel differently? (Client: I can't feel differently.) I'm convinced I can't feel differently, but can perhaps let go of pain. (Client: NO, I can't feel differently - WOW that just came out!)
My response: Your subconscious is jumping in.
My response: The idea (which is common) is that if you let go of pain, it leaves you vulnerable. It's a little different for everyone, but not...
Client: If I give up being wrong?
My response: "No" came out when I said let go of the pain.
Client: I can't let go of it being wrong, but I have no idea why no came out. Going to the beach, the beach. Fix it master magician! (Note later where I turned this language around to empower her.)
Even though I can't let go of the idea that this is wrong... (Because I was feeling the disconnect I stopped to ask, Where are you now?? Client: At the Karate Chop - following but not there, because if I let this go, something terrible is bound to happen. Client then interjects: I will be awful.
I inquired: Guilt?
Client: Yes, Yes.
I continued: Even though I can't let go of being wrong. (Client: Bad - really bad.) I'd like to be ok with me anyway. (Client: Rid of it!) Even though I can't let go of being bad, knowing it was wrong - it is wrong - I'd like to have this gone now.
Through the sequence: This part of me, that refuses to let go, I am sure it has its reasons, because I think it believes, that if I let go of this, I will be awful, I can't let go of it, I won't let go of it, I will be awful if I do, or maybe I won't, (Client: Not a chance in hell.) not a chance in hell, you have really got to be kidding, and I know what I am talking about, I would be simply awful, so can't and won't let it go, it is the only thing that makes me a good person, or maybe it's not...
Client: No, no, no...
I asked: "No" what?
Client: I feel stuck - do I pray this is sinking in?
I asked if she was aware of getting more information from her subconscious.
Her response: It is clear to me I see absolutely no way of ever believing it and know myself to be bad and there is no way I can see that I can let go of that.
I inquired: Of being bad?
Client: Of... I - think it is bad, might be another - bad in sense of evil. Not really evil like having sinned - like be a vampire - bad in sense of sin. Oh hell - not there but if I were there I would have said I sinned but I am not there - I am over here where it is safer.
I asked: Where's the little girl?
Client: She doesn't exist.
My response: So how can you be bad?
Client: Because I am by definition.
My response: Whose definition of what?
Client: Somebody very powerful decided I was bad and so I am.
My response: Obviously they did a good job of convincing you.
Client: Will I ever grow up?
We began tapping:
Even though I am bad to the core, and there is no way to change it, I was taught that a long time ago, I learned the lesson well, (Client: Otherwise I would not have survived.) didn't have choice, stronger smarter part knows, I have a choice now. (Client: I am going with you - laughing.) I don't have a choice, or maybe I do. (Client: Nah.) You have got to be kidding, this is the only way I can survive, and so bad to the core, that I am defeated before I start, I don't deserve joy, (Client: It is wrong - joy is wrong.) and I can't have success, pleasure is out of the question, I was wrong, I am bad, have to remain this way, must continue on this path of being bad (Client: Unless you help me.), or maybe I don't, maybe I was mistaken from the beginning, and I never was bad.
At this point I checked in and learned that she liked the idea that she was never was bad and could conceive and say those words, if only assuming we were talking to the subconscious. Her subconscious hadn't stopped me yet and she was able to accept the concept that maybe her subconscious was listening and/or accepting all of this. She continued to be at the beach, but was sure the conscious would be so happy to be rid of this - hoping that unconscious was stronger than conscious and would change its mind and free her.
I checked in to see what she was feeling/believing in moment. Is the subconscious still running the show? Does it still not feel safe to let go?
Her response: The unconscious/subconscious says it's listening to Sophia and she's making sense. The conscious mind is not sure what's going on but willing to let it work.
We began with the Setup: Even though there's a bit of confusion, a bit of push and pull - so grateful that sub-conscious mind is taking control and is open to the possibility that maybe I have been mistaken for a very long time. TH: Maybe it's ok, to see things differently now, all this conflict and confusion, this part of me, that wants no part of this, because it's convinced, it will be entirely too painful, I am choosing to relax and let go(Client: O god! - O god I can't! This really pisses me off.)
I began through the sequence: Even though this really pisses me off.(Client: I feel like I am in chains.) I continued: Because I feel like I'm in chains, I choose to see self as the magician, able to break free from the chains (Client: Not a chance hell!) not chance in hell, stuck in this mess, because of part me remains terrified, if I allow myself freedom, everything will fall apart, and I do not deserve pleasure, I don't deserve success, if I dare have any of that, it will be the end of survival, or maybe it won't. Life will end, there is no doubt in my mind, I have to remain in the chains, because while chains are uncomfortable, at least I know I can survive, I must remain in the chains, because I am wrong, I am bad, (Client: Because I can't get out - I can't.) I can't get out, it is impossible, I can't get out, someone else has the key, or maybe they don't. I can't get out, it is impossible, and even if I did get out, I'd put self in danger, so it's safer to stay in the chains. (Client: I just can't get out - it is not - I don't feel the not safe outside - I just can't.)
Back to the KC: Even though I am convinced I can't get out (Client: I know I can't.) I'd like to be ok with me. Even though I know can't get out, I'd like to believe in me.
Through the sequence: I can't get out, it is absolutely impossible, I can't get out, it will never happen, I am trapped in these chains, I can't get out, someone else still holds the key, I can't get out, it is absolutely impossible, or maybe it's not. (Client: It's not possible.) It's not possible, that's my story and I'm sticking to it, can't get out, I simply can't, I refuse to be open to even the possibility (Client: I would like to be open to possibility) that maybe I could get out, but right now, I don't think (Client: Believe.) I can, simply don't believe, seems too good to be true, been in chains for seems like forever, I'd like to be open to the possibility, that maybe I could free myself, from these dreadful chains, I don't believe it, I can't believe it, don't dare to have hope, or maybe I could. (Client: I can't as long as somebody else has the key.)
Back to the KC: I can't have hope if someone else still holds the key, but maybe, I could use my own power, call on the magician in me, to dissolve all the chains, someone else has the key, so I can't get out of here. (Client: No, I can - if I can dissolve them, I can get out of there.)
I asked if it that felt like a viable plan?
Client response: I have to be MacGyver. She was experiencing physical responses, and it felt right to continue, since she decided, if she had her own power she actually could get out. She then shared her feeling that the door was still locked, and she needed to dispose of the fictitious person on the other side of the door in order to have access to the key and free herself. It became quite graphic, so I suggested that she imagine it, and we would tap together as she described.
At the end of the session there was obviously more work to be done, but the chance of regaining her power for the first time since being a young child was on the rise.
The greatest concern she had at that point was it felt as if the wall of protection was diminishing, possibly leaving her vulnerable, so we discussed a few ways
to maintain a level of comfort between then and when we met next.
I encourage you the reader to be brave enough to believe that exactly the results your client is capable of accepting will take place when you stay with them where they are in every moment. Remind yourself to let go of the need or idea that you need to be in charge and embrace the concept of "Though me not by me." When we remain tuned in and step out of the way, amazing things can and do take place.
Wishing you the greatest of success,
EFT Founding Master AAMET Trainer of Trainers