I trained in TFT in 2007, after becoming a hypnotherapist in the same year. I knew it would be a powerful support tool in my practice, after encountering it about a year previously. A colleague had given me this little routine after I’d told her about a worry I had, and I was blown away by the amount of time it took to dial down my anxiety…I would be exaggerating if I said more than 5 minutes. I simply didn’t feel that same churning sense of panic any more. It was completely gone.
How can a simple little ‘tapping’ technique possibly manage to knock down anxiety, panic attacks, cravings, stress and even PTSD, (the reason it was created originally), simply by touching various parts of the body? Once you look at the it from a different perspective, it will make a lot more sense to you…it’s not woowoo, it’s biology!
A bit of biology…
There is a little walnut-shaped gland in the brain called the amygdala. It’s our ‘Fight Or Flight’ gland- a little radar, continually scanning for potential threat in the environment. It’s been keeping us alive and out of danger for hundreds of thousands of years. Its action is lightning speed, triggered by a perceived threat such as a dinosaur running towards us at a 100 mph, or when we were just about to be attacked, left by our troop or poisoned by a prehistoric monster snake. (I know…we weren’t around in the time of dinosaurs, but I like to imagine that!).
Once triggered, it uses the nervous system to send its threat message, because nerve messages are the speed of light (that’s the fastest thing in the universe, by the way!). How super efficient is that? The threat message lands in a large bundle of nerves, just beneath your ribs, known as the Solar Plexus. It’s a blaring, insistent warning message that we can’t ignore, because it’s telling us to Run! Or Fight! Or Hide! Its a beautifully elegant design, and is a closed circuit.
In other words you can’t jump in and over-ride it with any logical reasoning, because it’s survival- which is far too important to be left to your logical thinking brain. Imagine the scene…the angry dinosaur running towards you at 100 mph…do you stop to wonder if it’s a vegetarian or a meat eater? No. Your amygdala makes you run first, think later!
Of course these days our threat level is distinctly lower but the amygdala, being nothing more than a gland, doesn’t register that. It’s reactive, it doesn’t do logic- it does survival. It’s the most dominant gland in the brain. By a mile. Our threats are more subtle today, but felt as an equally devastating impact to our survival…public speaking, heights, lifts, people, dogs, spiders, cats, bats, rats, cars, grass, paths, stress, work, closed spaces, open spaces, masks, dolls, planes and the sea. Alongside the 1000,000 other threats our indiscriminate little amygdala can come up with. The list is literally inexhaustible, because the amygdala is tuning into threat messages constantly.
Some of us feel threat intensely. For some it’s barely there. It’s registered in the same place for all of us however. The Solar Plexus.
The explanation as to why the amygdala becomes so easily triggered is a complex one, so I won’t go into it here. But the fact is, that once it’s triggered, the fight to quieten it down can be utterly exhausting. Because we can’t. At least not by conventional means such as trying to reason with ourselves or others- (have you tried to persuade an arachnophobe to pick up a spider??). Even trying to understand why it was triggered into sending the incessant waves of a threat message, doesn’t get us much closer to a resolution.
So how does TFT fit in?…
The technique jumps into the nervous system where the threat message is being carried, and scrambles it as it runs down the nerve pathway. The series of actions carried out in the little 2 minute technique disengage the signal, lifting it out the Solar Plexus.
Anxiety is visceral, felt in the body.
Once the physical experience, the feeling has been lifted, the anxiety is no longer present. It’s entirely subjective, and the best way for me to describe this feeling of relief is to link you to a video at the end of this blog so you can try it out for yourself. (The video’s for sugar cravings, but the technique is exactly the same for anxious, panicky or stressful ‘threat’ feelings).
Working through the TFT sequence interrupts the feedback message to your amygdala. Instead of sending back “Yes, I’m panicking, get me out this threat situation!” you’re disconnecting the signal. Creating a sense of quiet in the SP, and once all is quiet there- you’re done with it for that moment. Repeating the technique creates a new nervous system reaction to the perceived threat, when it’s done over time.
Worrying about a situation, means that the analytical brain can stimulate anxiety. But the resolution is way beyond its power, and takes up precious energy even trying.
So the technique is a series of serious of cleverly designed actions that are simple, elegant, precise and seemingly illogical. It needs no formal training, is entirely safe, so can be learned by anyone…from young children upwards.
I usually advise my clients to practise the tapping every morning for several weeks, so this new positive trigger becomes installed in the nervous system. It can then be used in several ways, the most common is either as an intervention, or as an ‘Insurance Policy’. Take fear of flying as an example…
Using it as an Insurance Policy first -tap down the anxiety around flying beforehand, every day if necessary, for a few weeks before you fly. Imagining the scene is the same as actually being there as far as your brain is concerned.
Once you’re in the airport -tapping to quieten any rising panic is a powerful little intervention ( and yes- I’ve heard the sounds of someone tapping in airport toilets all over the world!). I know you probably wouldn’t want to run through it in the middle of Sainsburys, but I dream of a world where everyone is comfortable enough to admit their deepest anxieties, and share them with the people around them, (I know…I’m a therapist, these are the things we dream of!). There’s always somewhere you can nip to..I use it before public speaking, just to take off the edge from my nerves, and it’s become my best little friend because it’s so portable and reliable too.
Here’s the link for you. Try this amazing little technique for yourself. The power of it is subtle, but profound, and the only way is to experience it for yourself. Tell me your results! I’d love to hear how it went for you 🙂