What is tapping, how and why it works
Tapping lies at the intersection between Eastern system of acupuncture and Western psychology.
It is safe to use, and can be quickly and easily learnt by all. It is used by many psychologist and re-searched through psychology departments of universities all over the world.
When you are feeling a negative emotion whether it be angry, resentful, frustrated or fearful, your brain goes on high alert. This triggers the flight, fight or freeze response. This is designed to protect you from danger, whether that danger be a ferocious tiger, or falling off a cliff. All your body’s defence systems are turned on to support you to run away or to fight. Your adrenaline pumps, your muscle tense up, your heart beats faster and blood flows away from unnecessary areas like digestion and higher order thinking, and to the arms and legs so you can run faster. When it was a dangerous animal chasing us, this was a very good response. Just what we needed, to run faster, climb a tree, and get away.
Today our dangers is harder to see. They are more internally triggered – our boss/partner/children yelling at us. The constant noise and danger as we drive, the work deadlines, or our own feelings and thoughts. For many of us our stress response can be triggered by a negative childhood memory, or thoughts that had their roots in past trauma, or conditioned from childhood. The stress response is the same whether the trigger is external like the dangerous animal, or internal like a painful memory, our body does not see the difference and will send out the same signals.
Daily life is full of small incidents that trigger this stress response. We are so used to living in constant low grade stress that we might not even realise it, but the cumulative effect on the mind and the body is massive, and can leave us sick, upset, overweight stressed out and generally unhappy with our life.
The almond in your brain
Science has established that the stress response begins in the amygdala. This little almond shaped gland is one of the parts of the limbic system, or midbrain. It is located between the frontal lobes (the cortex) and the hindbrain (also called the reptilian brain.) The limbic system is the source of emotions and long term memory, and it’s where negative experiences are stored.
The amygdala has been called the body’s smoke detector. It senses trouble and signals the brain to mobilise. An early negative experience can program the amygdala to raise the alarm when some-thing similar happens again. The body does not distinguish between an actual threat and what the amygdala perceives as a threat. The daily stresses of life can signal the amygdala to raise the alarm.
Tapping turns off the amygdala’s alarm and deactivates the brains stress pathways. Tapping on the points sends a calming signal to the body, and the amygdala recognises that it is now safe. Not only does it halt the stress response at the time, but it retrains the brain so that remembering the stress event no longer causes the stress response.
This therapy has been successfully used to help a range of problems from phobias, anxiety and PTSD where it works more effectively than standard treatments for most people. It is also used for a myriad of other issues, where stress is affecting behaviour. Everything from eating disorders to pain, to insomnia and even financial woes can all be helped by this unique combination of tapping and talking.
Why focus on the negative?
While we tap on the specific points we say how we are feeling out loud. We state the negative. We are saying our truth, how it feels for us. It might not even be true, but it is how it feels to us. Many people respond by saying how much lighter they feel just by saying what they are actually thinking. We have been so programmed to say and think positive that we have been pushing down and away what we actually feel. But these negative thoughts are present, whether we think about them or not. We need to address them, to look at them, admit they are there and work through them, then we can clear them. We are not harping on the negative, just stating the truth for a short period of time while we tap and address the issues, and then they are gone.
You now develop new ways of thinking and seeing the world, releasing old thoughts,fears and memories that were stopping you moving forward. Once the old memories have gone, the positive experiences that have always been there can now be seen.
I like the analogy of a flower garden. If the garden bed is full of weeds you will not want to put your new flowers in. It will still look like a weedy garden. Once you have dug out all the weeds, then you can plant the flowers and it will look great and the flowers will flourish.
I love tapping for the many miraculous results I have seen and personally experienced. I also love it because it is simple and easy for anyone to learn, put into practice and feel the benefits. You can not get it wrong, so don’t be afraid of messing it up. The worst that can happen is – nothing. But more likely you will find yourself feeling less stressed and anxious, and more energised and ready to achieve your goals.