Why does tapping work so quickly?
This past Friday, my colleagues Deb Elbaum, MD, CPCC, and Amy Rebecca Gay, PhD, and I facilitated a workshop at Bryant University Women’s Summit for a packed room of more than 70 women about how to be more effective at setting and maintaining strong boundaries.
We led the group to 1) discover the values that were underlying their unclear boundaries, 2) learn how to communicate their “No” in a way that would help rather than hinder their relationships and 3) clear emotions and limiting beliefs that might get in their way.
I was delighted to see how many hands went up at the end of the session indicating that their fears, worries, anxieties and limiting beliefs had markedly diminished. But how could it possibly work so quickly?
Workshop participants had said that when they thought about having the important conversations about their boundaries they started to feel worried, anxious, fearful, stressed and had thoughts like “the other person might not like me after I say what I need” and “I might not be effective (so maybe I shouldn’t try).”
I led them through a process to clear the emotions and beliefs that might inhibit productive conversations. It involved tapping on points along the meridian system of the body while thinking or speaking aloud about the concerns.
Tapping anywhere on the body sends a calming message to the brain. It basically communicates “I’m safe” and simultaneously releases pent up energy from the body. Essentially the brain understands that we aren’t in a life threatening situation because we wouldn’t be sitting there tapping on the body if we were being chased by a tiger. The calming message is received in the brain at the same time the worry or concern is being processed and actually interrupts the processing of the worry with a new message that “there is nothing here that is life threatening.” This allows for a new interpretation of the situation to be understood and the conflicting emotion to be integrated. We tapped and talked aloud together about our concerns for about 5 minutes.
Before we started the tapping process, I asked the participants to rate their distress about their concern on a scale of 0-10 with 0 meaning no concern at all and 10 meaning the most concern. When we were done tapping, I asked the group to again rate their distress on the 10 point scale. When I asked people to raise their hand if their score had gone down, almost every single hand went into the air. Remarkable.
For more information on Tapping (a.k.a. Emotional Freedom Technique) and the Research supporting its efficacy check this out.