Creating positive change in our lives .... can feel treacherous. (Part 1 ~ exploring secondary benefits)
Creating positive change in our lives can feel treacherous. However much part of us desperately wants positive change, something holds us back. And whatever it is that keeps us from moving forward, it’s both powerful and successful.
Sometimes it feels as though however hard we try, nothing really works.
Other times we just don’t even bother to try.
Sometimes we know we want to change but we don’t know what kind of change. We lose touch with what we really want … who we really are.
EFT will help us discover the self-inhibiting beliefs that stop us moving forward. It will help us explore the fears and uncertainties that hold us back, and that keep us stuck.
Even when our conscious mind is absolutely convinced that the change we want will be the best thing ever, our deep sub-conscious beliefs have other ideas – quite literally.
However seemingly obvious our desire for positive change is, there are less obvious and sometimes apparently illogical beliefs that prevent us from making the changes we hope for.
This can apply to any area of our life that we would like to improve.
Our sub-conscious beliefs have a cogent logic all of their own, and they will have been built on past experiences, and episodes in our life, going back to early childhood. Above all, they are based on keeping us free from harm.
In this post, I’m going to explore one element of these beliefs, which will probably seem at the outset, to be the most perplexing.
Secondary Benefits from staying stuck? Impossible!
This is the notion that we are receiving secondary benefits by staying where we are and not moving forward. And that these perceived benefits keep us from creating positive change in our lives ....
Of course this may initially seem inconceivable, and also scary, because if we accept this idea, then it will feel as though part of us is constantly working against our own best interests.
If you want to lose weight, and feel embarrassed and humiliated on a daily basis by the state of your body, and have tried ‘everything’, then the suggestion that you are getting secondary benefits from holding on to the weight seems ludicrous.
Until that is, we take out the blame, the shame and all that stuff, and look at it from a different perspective (i.e. the way our sub-conscious assimilates experiences).
For example, the weight may feel like it protects you, and keeps ‘the world’ from coming to close. The weight may be trying to protect you from unwanted closeness.
So EFT will ask you to remember episodes in your past where you felt unprotected and vulnerable.
Another example: you want to get a better job, or a promotion. You apply for the interviews, but you never get the job offer.
Some part of you is making sure that you don’t succeed. How can that be!? You could really do with more money coming in to your life after all!
Well, maybe some part of you harbours a fear of responsibility, or of extra pressure … and so staying small and not rising through the ranks feels safer. And maybe, you get extra sympathy from having ‘failed’ to get the job you said you wanted. And maybe, that sympathy feels really important. So continuing to fail brings you more perceived emotional support , than succeeding. Sounds a bit illogical? Quite possibly, but that doesn’t make it unlikely!
EFT will simply ask you to remember episodes in your past where you felt alone and unsupported … Where nobody seemed to be rooting for you?
Here’s another example:
You’d love to take some time out and travel the world, or do something new and adventurous.
And yet there are all sorts of voices rolling around in your head advising you not take risks,not to strike out on your own … stay with the crowd … do as you’re told … etc. etc.
And so you don’t. You suppress your hopes and desires and you stick to what you know. And that way, you don’t rock the boat. And hey … you get to stay well in that comfort zone of yours … which is both familiar and comfortable! And something in you gains approval on some level.
EFT will ask you to remember episodes in your past where you experienced discomfort and fear around being adventurous. Perhaps you had it drummed into you that you should do as you’re told, or something to at effect? Perhaps you were rewarded for doing as you were told?
Digging Deeper ...
And another example:
If you are living with a chronic health condition, then the suggestion that you are somehow gaining secondary benefits from holding on to that condition, will probably sound outrageous.
Please bear with me here. This is not about making anyone feel any worse….
This is a process of gaining understanding into how the sub-conscious mind works. The subconscious mind normally remains largely invisible and unnoticed, and yet governs much of the way we think, the way we decide, and the way we act. There is no shame, no blame, and no judgement here. This is acknowledging that the sub-conscious is trying to keep you safe …. the only way it knows how ….
So EFT will simply ask of the condition that you are struggling with everyday:
‘How are you helping me? What perceived threat are you trying to avoid?
Here’s a simple exercise to help begin to unravel some of these potential secondary benefits, and understand the part they play.
To start this exercise, find somewhere peaceful where you won't be interrupted for a while (30 mins. or so?)
Take a notebook that you can dedicate to EFT, and write down five areas of your life where you would like to see positive change.
You can start general, but there may be more specific wishes that you have in mind.
For example :
Relief from a chronic condition.
Poor eating habits?
Other physical issues?
Looking for your soulmate?
Wish you had more friends?
Better family relations?
A better job ~ doing something you love.
A better quality of life.
Having more time to do things you love doing.
Greater sense of personal freedom and happiness:
Feeling free from anxiety or depression.
Always being too hard on yourself?
Feeling more in control of your own life?
These are lists of just a few ideas, and when you start jotting down the areas where you would most like to have positive change, take your time to describe them carefully. No need to write an essay, a few words is enough, but it’s worth trying to be specific.
And then ask each ‘area’, each issue that you’ve identified; what it’s purpose is. (Stay with this, it does make sense!)
Ask the excess weight … ‘Why are you here? How are you helping?’
And then just let the response emerge. Don’t think too hard. And above all, don’t judge!
‘Hello anxiety, why are you my constant companion?’
‘Hi there poverty-consciousness, why must I always go without?’
It might seem like an odd question, but notice what comes up. You may be surprised. (For some people: having too much is greedy and I don’t like to be greedy 🙂 – or/ if I don’t have enough, someone always helps out and then I feel loved …? … or / ???
Don't judge yourself at any point during this exercise.
Let the answer arrive:
‘I’m here because ….’
‘Don’t ever feel confident because …..’
‘I have to go without because ….’
……. and however crazy it sounds, take it seriously. However off~the~wall whacky or incoherent it sounds to your conscious mind to ask these questions, and then listen to the answers, write it all down next to the equivalent area in your notebook.
Take them one at a time.
One will probably feel important to you. Run with that one first. (All our issues overlap with each other in the end, and have common themes running through them).
As an example, let’s look at being overweight and the feeling of needing extra weight as protection.
Now, in order to let EFT help, focus on the accompanying emotion, when you think about losing that excess weight. Perhaps there is Fear? Anxiety? Uncertainty? Something troubling about the reality of it?
When do you remember feeling this fear in the past? Was there an episode when you felt vulnerable and unprotected?
Give the feeling a number on the SUDS scale (more about SUDS here if you are new to EFT) and then begin a series of Tapping Rounds on the fear, while focusing on the specific episodes (more here on specific episodes).
If you are new to EFT, this may all seem like a lot of information, but it quickly becomes second nature.
So , now you’ve identified some great leads to Tap on! By writing them down you can come back to the notebook whenever you need to.
It’s really important to stay in neutral throughout this exercise, and by that I mean, don’t start judging yourself, or justifying yourself, or berating yourself.
Your sub-conscious is not going to instantly understand that these beliefs no longer serve you in your life.
And the secondary benefits are going to contribute to that.
The secondary benefits are going to work really hard at doing what they believe to be true : in order to keep you safe.
Which is why negotiating with these beliefs should never feel like a battle.
We talk about battling to lose weight ~ rising above the challenge etc. etc.
EFT views the process in a completely different and peaceful, yet transformative way.
EFT does this by negotiating with the beliefs, respecting and appreciating them for all they do, and then clearing the negative emotion on which they are founded. This clears the way to establish new and more appropriate awareness and understanding of the world, your environment and your place in it. We can now see what we once found so threatening (based on past experiences), in a new and different light. The fear simply vanishes.
The way forward becomes clear, and unimpeded.