I know I share quite a bit of personal detail from my life. Friends have commented on it. My intention is truly to be of service. Maybe there’s a little parallel in your own life, and perhaps something in here can help you find a direction for your own solution. With that, here’s today’s story.
Recently I had to go to our local Community hospital for an abdomen ultrasound. After months of up-and-down tummy trouble, this is one more step to eliminate possible contributors. I appreciate how a kind NHS doctor is doing the least invasive thing with blood tests and ultrasound first.
(And in case you’re wondering, yes I’ve explored and used many different complementary therapies, and still am. I believe in many approaches, not just one.)
Even though ultrasound is a non-scary procedure, my brain cooked up the most unbelievable stress about it. Not about the procedure itself, but the logistics around it.
I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything for 6 hours prior. The appointment was at 9.20 am and I usually wake up around 6.30 am. I always have a hot drink with a few nuts within 20 minutes of waking up, since it feels better with food in it. If you’re sensitive, you might know about ‘hangry’ too.
So here was my brain the few days before it:
- “It’s 3 HOURS with no food. I’ll get incredibly hungry and feel miserable.”
- “And I won’t be able to walk there. And maybe driving will be a problem, too, from low blood sugar.”
- “How do they expect me to last?”
- “I’ll get hangry and feel really weak.”
- “My stomach will burn so much with no food in it for so long.”
- “I’m scared of the pain.”
- “It’s going to be a horrible experience.”
- “I can’t do it.”
- “I won’t cope.”
- “I’m already anxious and it’s still 5 days away. Imagine how nervous I’ll be on the day!”
- “I need to ring them and ask for another appointment earlier in the day, even if it’s weeks in advance.”
- And a few more…
Can you identify?
Each one of these was a story my brain produced — projections that a part of me thought might happen.
Was it true?
It wasn’t real yet, and I had no idea whether any of those scenarios would actually happen or not. The point is — they felt true and real… and mostly because of previous experiences, where some of those things did happen. Not in exactly this same situation or environment, but close enough to matter.
So the night before, around 10 pm, I finally had enough of all the brain chatter and anxiety. I knew I was working myself up about something that would be over soon. I work with this stuff, for Pete’s sake! So if you’re a client and feel bad that you’re unable to stop this kind of mind spiral, please feel better right now. I’ve been doing this work for 16 years, and it still happens for me. We’re all just human, you and I — navigating the beautiful inner mess as best we can.
Time for relief!
I got into bed, where there was a sense of peace and quiet.
I used a form of EFT called ‘Intention Tapping’ (IEP). It’s a beautiful, gentle method where we say specific statements to release emotional attachments to our thoughts and beliefs. It brings calmness and relief very quickly.
I worked with about 5 of my concerns while tapping and started feeling much, much, much calmer in only a few minutes. It was almost unbelievable that I’d let myself suffer for such a long time!
Before this, I thought I was managing the stress well by just ignoring those thoughts.
But you know what truly happens?
We don’t really ignore them. They sit there ‘just’ underneath the level of awareness, and they brew, and brew. They keep bugging us, creating stress hormones 24/7. When we try to ignore or suppress feelings, they’re still alive.
Buried feelings don’t die.
It’s like a ball that we push under the water in a swimming pool. It’s still there — and pops up behind us when we least expect it.
Intention Tapping Statements
Here’s how I tapped, and you might try some of these for your own ‘imagined’ troubles. (For more information on how to do Intention Tapping, visit Steve Well’s website here. I am in the final stage of obtaining my certification.)
“I release all my emotional attachments to all these stories.” while tapping a full round.
(Note: You only need to say the statement once, and then keep tapping silently, while you let the tapping do the releasing work. In each following sentence, I tapped either a full round on all the points, or until the next thought popped up.)
Then I noticed the butterflies in my stomach.
“I restore the right energy flow to these butterflies in my stomach.” (with a full round of tapping).
Continuing with one of the other thoughts that were strong for me:
“I release all my emotional attachments to the projection that my stomach will burn badly — and everything that means to me.”
There are so many repercussions to this, and I didn’t want any of them! The meaning we give anything is more important than the thing happening.
“I release all my emotional attachments to the projection that I’ll be super hungry, sweaty and trembling and I’ll hate the whole experience.” And a full round of tapping.
After a few of these, I noticed myself wanting to giggle a little bit.
I knew this was my brain trying to protect and warn me and more than likely, none of it would happen. But up until that point, they felt so real while my brain kept sending me warning signals. And you might know how uncomfortable those can be: A racing heart, shallow breathing, butterflies in the stomach, not sleeping well… and others that disturb our peace and our well-being.
So that’s really all it took, dear reader … a little quiet space for myself to hear myself think, 15 minutes of tapping, and I felt able to face the whole thing.
It’s miraculous how taking care of the stressful thing with tapping, helps our brain to shift to more resourceful thoughts. We don’t have to force those thoughts, and it’s not ‘positive thinking covering the garbage.’ It’s called a Cognitive Shift, which emerges naturally when Amy Amygdala is no longer sending ‘WARNING’ signals.
So my thoughts were more like this:
“Well maybe I’ll be hungry but goodness me, I’m a grownup! Surely I can be without a bit of food for a few hours? I won’t die! People in concentration camps had to do 10 hours of work in freezing cold with far less food! And they survived.”
“So maybe it’ll burn, that’s true, I can’t prevent that. But I do have medicine I can use afterwards and I’ll just use a bit more. And I’ll ask for prayers and support to get through it with ease.”
I felt inspired to plan the next morning: I could lie in bed longer than usual, then sit in bed and read a book, and before I knew it would be time for a quick shower and to leave. I asked my Angels and Guides and other Beings to support me through it. It all felt much more do-able now — like I could trust that all the painful projected scenarios would not happen.
So did it all work out beautifully?
I woke up on the morning at 5 am with a burny stomach! “Oh no, darn it, just what I didn’t want!!”, my brain instantly remarked.
I got up and took a bit of the medicine that usually helps, and fell asleep again.
The alarm woke me at 7.30 (set later than usual) and instantly I had a burning tummy again. “Aaargh, really? After all that tapping and praying?” I took the regular medication, that I always take at this time.
Yes, I was still a bit worried about how bad the burning was going to get. But in a few minutes, thankfully, it started settling. I kept myself busy with some meditations on Insight Timer (here’s a truly lovely one to learn to receive good things). And then, thankfully I had to hop in the shower and get ready to go.
Yes, I was hungry and felt a bit shaky from it. No, I didn’t get ‘hangry’! They were running right on time, and I was back home after 30 mins and made myself a delicious breakfast to celebrate!
What can we learn from this?
One: Our Predictions
Our (negative) projections and (positive) dreams don’t all come true. Yes, a relief and a disappointment. We need to make space for both.
Two: Doing the inner work doesn’t guarantee a specific result
Working on our issues doesn’t always change the whole situation into what we want. But it can make it different enough so that we can manage it much more easily than those awful stories our brain can produce!
Even though I’d believed by the end of that short tapping session that I would have absolutely no stomach-burn the next morning, it did happen. Isn’t that just like life? We can’t control things, no matter how much we want to.
Does that mean I or the tapping failed?
Gosh, no. I see it this way: It helped me to prove to myself that I could really manage it, even though it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. In a way, it helped strengthen my belief in myself and my capacity. I did get home and feel a bit more invincible, stronger, braver, and taller!
Plus: FAIL, I’ve learned, is an acronym for First Attempt In Learning. So if we can reframe our attempt into something we’ve learned and can use again fruitfully, it’s really quite a success.
Four: Whose judgment of small and big?
You’d think such a small thing shouldn’t be such a big thing for me anymore.
But you see, it all depends on what happened in our childhood and background. We’re all unique, our triggers are unique, our nervous systems are unique. No amount of judgment about what ‘should’ or ‘should not’ be happening will change our nervous systems. If we’re an HSP (a person with a sensitive nervous system), smaller things DO upset us.
I’ve had to make peace with my sensitivity. I notice I do have much more compassion for it than a few years ago. It’s okay to be ‘different’ and to not face difficult things with the same head-on courage as others. We’re all doing our best with the resources, challenges, history, and background we have.
So let’s keep doing our inner work, making progress, and peeling the layers. With kindness, care and compassion. Because that’s the best environment for healing.