In Part One of this series, we learned about how painful emotions are an inevitable part of divorce and how important it is to process them and move them through the body. We also discussed fear, the stress/fear response, and how EFT has been scientifically proven to reduce physical symptoms of stress. In Part Two we discussed anger and how EFT is especially effective for reducing emotional intensity around past traumatic events. Today, we are going to discuss another very common emotion during divorce: grief.
While anger is red hot, fiery, powerful and protective, grief is heavy, wet, and oh so painful. It can feel like an arrow in your heart. Whenever you lose something important in your life, it’s natural to grieve. You may feel sad, devastated, lonely, lost, empty, weak, helpless, or depressed. All are faces of grief.
Although grief is most strongly associated with the loss of a loved one, there are many other possibilities for loss. It can be helpful to acknowledge specifically what you are grieving. For example, at the end of a relationship, you might not just be grieving the loss of the person in your life, but the loss of your home, your future plans, your financial security, your status as a couple or family, or time with your kids. The individual losses may be big or small, but it helps to name them. Even if you made the decision to leave, know it’s for the best, and don’t even miss your mate, grief is an inevitable part of divorce. Take a moment to create your own list.
Now tune into the physical feelings in your body. Does it feel like there’s a brick on your heart? A lump in your throat? A heaviness all over? What’s happening for you? Again, take a moment to record your physical sensations and breathe deeply into them.
Remember in Part One of this series we learned how EFT has been scientifically proven to reduce the physical symptoms of stress and in Part Two we saw how EFT dramatically reduces the emotional intensity around past traumatic events.
There’s one more thing I want to share about EFT. Scientists speculate that EFT not only lowers the emotional intensity around particular events, but actually permanently alters the neural pathways in your brain. When conditioned fear pathways in the limbic system are eliminated, similar stimuli no longer produce the same response. In other words, EFT is actually able to rewire the brain so that events held in storage no longer get triggered in the same way.
A very clear example of this is my client Danielle who came in for insomnia. Up until eight years before her first appointment, Danielle had slept fine. Eight years before, however, her husband had died in bed from a heart attack. While she had received good grief counseling and talk therapy and had moved on to experience her life as a content single woman, one disturbing remnant of the event remained. Since that night, she had been unable to fall asleep before 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Her hippocampus had tagged and flagged everything in that traumatic memory, including her bed. Whenever she got in bed, her traumatic memory would be triggered, making her feel unsafe to fall asleep at night.
In a fairly short period of time we were able to tap on all the emotions surrounding that event – her feelings of shock, being overwhelmed, helpless, terrified, guilty that she had slept through some of it and then couldn’t save him, heartbroken at losing him, and fearful that this could happen to her as well if she let down her guard. After only a couple of appointments, she was able to sleep well again. Her hippocampus got the message: yes, this was a terrible event, probably the worst day of her life AND that doesn’t mean she has to spend the rest of her life as an insomniac.
By tapping on all the emotions surrounding this event we were able to communicate with the hippocampus to pull her bed out of the trauma category, so that she could sleep like she did eight years before. In other words, we rewired her brain so that it no longer responded to bed with a fear response.
In summary, while Tapping may look funny and feel silly at first, it works powerfully on three levels:
- It reduces the physical symptoms of stress by calling off or halting a stress response.
- It dramatically reduces the emotional intensity around past events by sending signals of calm and peace to the part of the brain storing the event.
- It rewires the brain to respond differently to future situations by moving events from the traumatic category into the neutral category in long-term memory storage. Once these memories have been re-categorized, they are no longer triggered in the same way by current events.
In simpler language, EFT can greatly help the divorce recovery process by easing stressful emotions and symptoms, soothing highly charged memories, and breaking up negative feedback loops that keep you stuck in painful reaction patterns. Sound good? Would you like to try this on your own stress symptoms, painful emotional memories, and any unwanted responses being triggered by trauma you have experienced?
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