Many of us look towards future events, both real and imagined, and feel afraid.
In some circumstances fear is extraordinarily useful. If a Bengal tiger wanders into your dining room, being afraid is an entirely appropriate response. This is the kind of fear that demands that you fight, flight or freeze to save your life. This fear is justified, valuable and persuasive.
Sadly, there are lots of places and situations in the world where fear is a reasonable response, but even if you are not in imminent danger, there are other kinds of fears that can prey on our minds.
Because we have been both blessed and cursed with imagination, we have the power to create all kinds of vivid stories in our minds that can scare us (film directors make good use of these abilities to scare us for as long as the movie lasts).
If you are imagining how difficult your upcoming interview, surgery or date is going to be and all the ways it can go wrong, then you may experience some fear as you think about it.
This may be a baseless apprehension, if it’s your first interview, surgery or date you have no prior experience to base your anxieties on. It really is all in your imagination, but what if it is not your first interview, surgery or date and things didn’t go well last time?
Now we have to add in that other blessing and curse of being a human: the ability to remember. We tend to have an excellent memory for painful experiences, for good reasons: remembering past pain reminds us to be careful in those kinds of situations that were difficult for us.
If you blend the memory of distress with imagination of future events you can create a potent cocktail of fear and apprehension.
If you are going to use tapping to defuse such fears and apprehensions, I think it is worth understanding how this works so that you can effectively neutralise those fears using tapping.
I think the structure of these kinds of fears goes something like this:
- I had some bad experiences in the past. The memories of those experiences are still raw and have a lot distress attached to them (even if we are not conscious of that most of the time).
- When I think about future events that remind me of those painful experiences I take those feelings from the past and project them into the future.
- When I think about those future events (that haven’t happened yet, or may never happen), I feel those bad feelings from the past in the present.
Note: You may have heard yourself, or a client, say something like: “I don’t want to go through ‘that’ again”. If you hear the word again in a sentence like that you can be reasonably confident that ’that’ (whatever ’that’ is) still has a lot of emotional intensity.
Using tapping you could soothe the sensations as they arise in the present moment. This might work for a little while but the untapped combination of vivid imagination and painful memory would resupply the current fear and it would soon return.
Realising this you could use tapping to soothe all the vivid imaginings they have of those future events (then perhaps tidy up any remaining uncomfortable feelings).
This approach would probably work better because it defuses the ’future’ aspect of the problem as well as the present experience. However, the unprocessed past is still available to catapult its distressing feelings into the future to cause trouble later.
I’d like to suggest a three stage process to undo this particular way of distressing ourselves.
Stage 1: Soothe The Past
The painful memories supply the emotional fuel to these scary fantasies of the future.
Find and process the memories that are the source of the current feelings, by using all the standard tapping detective questions such as: “What does this situation remind you of?”
If your client has said something like “I don’t want to go through ‘that’ again!”, then ’that’, whatever it may be, might be a good place to start.
Process those memories until they no longer have any emotional charge.
Stage 2: Defuse The Future
Once you have soothed those distressing memories, you can process whatever remains of those fear provoking fantasies.
Without the emotional fuel of the past they should already be much reduced and easier to clear.
Stage 3 - Tidy Up The Present
To find out if there is anything left to resolve (and to test your work), have your client imagine that future event and process any residual emotions and sensations that they experience.
I have used this process with clients and found it effective, I believe its effectiveness comes from the order of processing: past first, future second and present last.
As always I would be very interested to know how it works for you