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Articles & Ideas

Using EFT

Using EFT to neutralize "family differences"

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

This article touches almost all of us.

Many people have "differences" with difficult family members that often result in strong emotions during family gatherings (the same thing happens in the workplace as we interface with fellow employees, bosses and certain customers).

Fortunately, the real problem tends NOT to be the behavior of a family member. Rather, it is our excess emotional response to that behavior (an inside job, for sure) that causes us so much difficulty.

Along these lines, Deborah Mitnick details for us her phone session regarding "Annie's" response to her sister's controlling behavior. Along the way, Deborah gives us helpful insights into her Set-up statements and language patterns. You should find them quite useful.

As a follow-up to Deborah's EFT session, Annie writes a letter indicating that she no longer has this problem. She says....

"It's interesting to observe how, when something like this collapses with EFT, it's almost difficult to remember that it ever was a reality. I can remember how I used to react, but in a very detached way."

Hugs, Gary

By Deborah Mitnick, LCSW-C

Hi, Gary.

As you know, I work with most of my clients by phone. In my third session with "Annie" who lives quite far from me geographically, (but so close by phone), she had anticipatory anxiety about a scheduled vacation to visit her sister, "Stephanie," with whom she's had a rocky relationship over the years. Yet she loves Stephanie's kids and wanted to spend time visiting with them, as well as with other family members.

However, the worry about her sister made her "want to go into avoidance." She said she feels "so constricted by Stephanie's rules and there are so many things I can't do when I'm with her. I have to walk on egg shells. I just can't keep up with all the rules. The whole house feels constricted. She's always telling my nieces and nephews what they cannot do."

During the course of the session, Annie noticed that there are similarities with her sister and the way they were both raised by their Mother. "I remember feeling constricted at home and I remember all of the rules. I had to watch what I said or someone would be screaming at me. And Mom raised me as she had been raised. If I had a problem in school and came home to talk about it, instead of listening to me, Mom would ask, 'What did you do to make that [incident] happen?' I felt as if I always had to censor myself. And that's how I feel when I'm around Stephanie. I wish I could talk to Stephanie about how I feel, but there are too many rules and we just can't talk. I feel her constrictions in my body and constantly feel penned in by her."

Yet Annie was motivated to take the vacation so she could be with her nieces, nephews, and the rest of the family.

So, we used EFT to address the concerns she was having. In the very brief session (less than one hour), using only Annie's language from her presentation of the issue, we tapped three different rounds.

If possible, I always start with the physical manifestation of the challenge. (I find that this is a gentle way to start an EFT session. When the physical manifestations melt away, the challenge is usually reduced.)

And since Annie "feels" her intensity in her stomach and her chest when she talks about Stephanie, we tapped, "Even though I have Stephanie in my stomach and chest... Even though I carry Stephanie in the chest... Even though I sometimes see Stephanie as Mom in the stomach...(Notice that I've changed from the personal pronoun "my" to using the article, "the" in the final two rounds. When I gently change the language during the tapping, this often gives a client additional distance from the challenge.)

After the intensity on the somatic level was reduced to zeros and ones, we moved to the emotional issues. (By the way, Sister-Stephanie lives in a part of the country that has a delicious food specialty that definitely tastes better there than most places! And Annie was partially motivated to go there just to eat that luscious food. So, I added a "choice" in the following round of tapping that got Annie's attention and elicited some laughter.) We tapped, "Even though there are all these Stephanie subjects I can't talk about, and even though I often feel penned in when I'm with her, I'm open to choosing to have a tasty vacation and noticing that Stephanie's constrictions are her own."

Again, all intensities dropped to zero.

One more round and we're done. Again, I add a choice in the re-frame. We last tapped for "Even though I sometimes wait for the criticism and feel stifled with Stephanie, and can't tell her what is true for me, I notice that Stephanie's criticisms are about her. I'm open to letting Stephanie be Stephanie and I can have my tasty vacation."

It was time for us to end the session. When I asked Annie what she noticed, she said, "I feel calmer about it. I have more of a sense of peace and ability to make choices, even if choices give me some distance. This is different from avoidance because it's a choice rather than a reaction. My choice is to take care of myself."

When we met for our next phone session after the vacation, Annie was so excited by the results that I asked her if she'd write it down and send me her reactions. Her note is below:

Hi, Deborah.

A little background ... my younger sister has three delightful children. We live virtually at opposite ends of the country, so I get to see them once a year at best. I love going to see them, but there's been a lot of tension for me on prior visits. My sister is a stay-at-home mom and is very dedicated to her kids. It seems to me that she has a lot of rules for them - about what they can do, eat, drink, etc.

My parents (especially my mom) also had a lot of rules when I was growing up. When I've been around my sister and the kids on prior visits, there have been times when I felt overwhelmed by all the rules. I would ricochet right back to my own childhood and re-live the feelings I often felt then - stifled, tense about trying to remember everything I was or wasn't supposed to do, hemmed in, etc. At times these feelings would get very intense and I would be really torn between wanting to be with my family and enjoying being with the kids while I had the chance - and wanting to run as far and as fast as possible!

We worked on these old feelings together prior to my trip this year. By the time the session was over, I felt that I had really internalized that my sister is raising her kids to the very best of her abilities and that I could be around all of them without getting upset. And that's exactly what happened!! Not once during my visit did I experience that old "trapped" feeling along with the urge to run. Not even a glimmer! How amazing. It was wonderful to be able to be relaxed and enjoy my visit. Thank you!!!!

It's interesting to observe how, when something like this collapses with EFT, it's almost difficult to remember that it ever was a reality. I can remember how I used to react, but in a very detached way.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Annie had a tasty vacation and got tasty EFT results!

Deborah Mitnick, LCSW-C


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