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Sometimes, regardless of our efforts to resolve conflict lovingly and responsibly, we are unable to reach a peaceful resolution with the person or persons involved. For those of us who have been schooled in homes where conflict is to be avoided at all cost, we run the risk of swallowing our emotions to avoid triggering responses we fear we will not be able to handle. When we do so, we open the doors to physical illness because unexpressed emotions can and do play havoc in the bodymind system. This is especially challenging when we engage with people who have not yet learned to accept their share of responsibility in the conflict or when we feel we must take care of others at the expense of our own emotional and physical health. Tapping is particularly helpful in such situations, since it allows us to work through our part in the challenges while creating the space for others to step forward to do the same; in short, Tapping helps us to create healthy boundaries that honour others’ needs as well as our own.
Tapping For Our Lives
In the winter edition of Yes! Magazine, Gabor Mate explores the relationship between people with specific disease conditions and the emotional makeup and cultural constructs influencing their behaviours (read his entire essay at http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/good-health/gabor-mate-how-to-build-a-culture-of-good-health-20151116). He gives the example of Lou Gehrig as epitomizing dutifulness, playing ball despite the pain of broken bones, torn ligaments, and debilitating muscle strains. According to Mate, ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, befalls those with similar needs for meeting obligations no matter the cost to the self. We have all met such people, often when we look in the mirror. Our families and our culture reward selfless, perpetually giving behaviours, despite the physical, emotional, and social costs of this self abnegation.
Before illness overtakes us, we can do our best to become serious about setting boundaries so our illness doesn’t have to; better still, we can begin to set our boundaries now, while in the prime of health. This is not always easy. People in our lives who have benefited from our compulsive helping behaviours may resist the changes we want to make, and may even accuse us of unreasonable and even cruel behaviour when we choose to share the shouldering of responsibilities with them. On the other hand, we may feel we have lost our identity once we tune inward to meet our own needs Tapping helps with the fear of disappointing others as we learn to say no, and it also helps with the rage that surfaces when we realize we have been conditioned since childhood to put others before ourselves in almost every situation. Best of all, Tapping quickly helps us to clear old habits, make space for consciously choosing when and where to give our time and energy, and tune into our own neglected needs with tenderness and compassion.
Unexpressed Healthy Anger
When people have unreasonable expectations of themselves, they send the message that others are entitled to make similar unreasonable demands as well. This unreasonableness seldom happens to adults who were raised in households where, in the interests of fairness, awareness is encouraged daily, especially when conflict arises over chores, financial responsibilities, and general caring giving behaviours. Unfortunately, most of us come of age in families where service to others is rewarded with praise and little else, especially for girls and women, this socialization complicated by the pressure to “do it all” as we reach maturity, thereby compounding the risks for compassion fatigue, especially toward the self. All the times when our healthy anger at the unfairness of selfless service are repressed, we run the risk of having these energies come back to haunt us as serious and even fatal diseases.
Learning how to express healthy anger when we drive ourselves or are exploited by others or is a turning point in our lives, Saying no assertively and without the guilt and anguish caused by conditioning is a giant step into maturity and the joy of self determination. Happily, we can begin to set boundaries that respect others and ourselves today. And when the drag of past conditioning suggests we are somehow bad for taking care of our own needs, we can use Tapping to work our way through all the old situations that suggested we were born to serve others and to abandon ourselves.
People with strong boundaries have many important qualities, among them saying what we mean, sticking to the issues to avoid drama, and resolving conflict with good will and respect. Using the Personal Peace Procedure to tap through the anguish caused by an alcoholic parent, a divorce, family violence, or any of the other situations that force children to stifle their own needs in order to take care of their family members is an empowering act of self care that radically changes our interpersonal relationships. Daily Tapping on our rights to health and happiness is an unequivocal expression of Self Love the bodymind system receives immediately.
We are all, of course, going to die. How we die, however, is up to us. Choosing to care for ourselves as we care for others often makes it possible for us to live fully as it lessens the likelihood that we will court a debilitating disease that resolves all conflicts for us, often by hideously painful means. Saying yes to Self Love and no to demands that take care of others at our own expense is a habit we can cultivate. I call it the Happy Endings approach to maturity and old age. May we all say Yes and No in balanced, life affirming ways, and may our hearts beat more joyfully because of our care for others and ourselves.
Until next week
Jane Buchan, MA, AAMET Advanced Practitioner, email@example.com, 802-533-9277
Jane is a Learning Coach specializing in neutralizing cultural age, gender, and race constructs to support learners of every age. To engage her coaching services, please contact Jane by phone (802) 533-9277 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to put Coaching Query in the subject line.