Using EFT for the Beyond Fifty Syndrome

beyond fifty woman, attractive older woman“Erin” is several people rolled into one.  In a sense she is all the people whom I have worked with, because she exemplifies so many common doubts and misconceptions about EFT. I thought you might like to hear an EFTer’s story from the person’s (client’s) perspective.  –– Pat Carrington

Reflections On Age

 

Erin thought to herself, the clock ticks along. Time passes. And they say (whoever they are) that fifty is the New Forty, which makes me the new fifty (she liked that way of putting it). Except am I really that age?

No, she assured herself. I equate my age to my feelings don’t I? I am still nineteen, or maybe thirty, perhaps I’m seventy. I can’t pinpoint my age to a particular number of a particular year! How old am I? Today? Or do you mean last Thursday?

She sipped her protein drink and leaned back .

Age is just a mental attitude isn’t it? She mused. If I don’t feel old, I’m not old, that is if I don’t notice that younger people, or even older people, think I should dress my age, act my age, be my age, then I’m any age. This is especially difficult because I’m a grandmother and I shouldn’t be doing this, and I shouldn’t be seen wearing that.

But why? Why can’t fifty or sixty or whatever, be really, “beyond ten”, if that’s what I want, if that’s how I feel? Why can’t I play hopscotch in the street? or wear skirts that seem to go up to my navel? I don’t necessarily want to, but if I did, I would be considered “pixilated” – or something like that.

She mulled it over. Actually, it took me all those years to come to terms with my childhood hang-ups and fears. Look at the trials and tribulations I’ve gone through. What have I gained from all that? (She was getting angry now) The knowledge that I’ve somehow passed the crucial point in my life? That I’m not as sharp or as fast as the ‘young ones’? That I should become invisible after fifty in some mysterious way, because I really have no Use in the World?

She studied the problem. Does anyone in our Western World look beyond superficiality? Then she realized that this was making her feel awful. This was a jolt, she had thought she was beyond such things.

Enter Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

 

I wonder if EFT could help me with such a huge problem that comes from our society? I doubt it very much.

However, she loved EFT. Look at the many times it’s helped me, and how I use it with the children and my grandchildren. Hmmm… Gary Craig says, “Try it on everything.” I don’t think he means this kind of everything though, not with what they call an “existential” problem, one we can’t get rid of because it’s part of our very life. He can’t mean that.

Then Erin got up and went about her day and thought about other things.

In the evening she thought about EFT again. I imagine it’s impossible to apply EFT to such an immense, all-encompassing, insoluble problem she thought, ─ how could we possibly apply it to life’s realities? And if I did use it for that – what would I tap on? This isn’t a small issue. It’s immense. It’s Basic.

More thoughts came. She was arguing now, in her mind. If I did tap, what issue would I address first? Which is more important? Aren’t they all important?

She didn’t know the answers, but the questions remained and something occurred to her. Why not call her long-time friend, Pat Carrington, who was an EFT Master and who had been doing “tapping work” for goodness knows how long –since 1987 she thought it was. Pat would be right there at the other end of the phone if she called, and she always had ideas on things, sometimes she seemed to have too many ideas.

When Erin heard the phone ringing to Pat’s line she said to herself, “I don’t know why I’m doing this. I already know what she’ll say. When she hears I’m stuck she’ll want me to look at it another way. Only, I don’t want to look at it another way. This is a Reality, I’ll tell her that.”

She was right about Pat. After hearing about the society-based myths about aging, Pat said, “Break it down into little pieces. Erin. That will make it manageable. You can’t tackle everything all at once by using EFT, or by using any other self-help method for that matter.”

“Oh, you mean be specific?”

“Why, yes.”

Erin knew what Pat had in mind. It was disturbingly evident. She wanted her to sit down, quietly, and consider every one of what looked like an infinite number of problems that she had mentioned –– one by one. Then she’d be asked to create EFT Choices Statements for each one of them. She liked EFT Choices statements, so that part seemed all right, but… this was a tough assignment. Although maybe not quite as difficult as when she looked at the whole landscape spread out before her in toto.

Encouraged , Erin blurted out what seemed to her to be her biggest issue, “I think I don’t know who I am any more. The children are grown up, I’m divorced, and alone, so what can I do now that matters?”

Wasn’t that the kind of thing she was supposed to talk about?

Apparently not. Pat mentioned casually that when difficulties seem all-encompassing (“Yes! Yes! They do!” Erin agreed ) that’s the time to start with the smallest, least significant one of all and tap on that first.”

“If you apply EFT to a really trivial aspect of this bigger problem ––aging and being without a goal –– and if you deal with its least important aspect first –– then you may be surprised at what happens to the whole problem.”

Erin thought, Nothing is trivial about this! It’s monumental. It’s my life. Her thoughts raced.

“That’s why I asked you to break it up into little pieces.” Pat was persistent wasn’t she? “Just start with a specific incident that actually happened to you, one that represents this whole problem. One example.”

Erin thought, doesn’t it feel better to all of us if instead of tackling today’s frustrations and disappointments, we cry out to the Universe in protest? She could almost hear her own cry of protest echoing around the world, and for a second she felt part of something important.

Pat said, “No. Not in the long run. So you might try making a list of all those things you mentioned about your life. Make it as long as you want. Only it won’t be a complete list because lists need to expand.”

Erin could have argued that point about lists needing to expand, but instead she sat down and made a list. It did seem to expand, so much so in fact that she found herself getting lost in it…more…and more and more unpleasant aspects of her life came tumbling out.

Pat realized what she was doing, and advised, in that gentle voice she sometimes (but not always) had, “Why don’t you start with one of these things that you’ve already written down– just one of them. Which one jumps out at you when you look at the list?”

Unfair question. They all do, Erin thought. Then one of those categories she had listed attracted her eye a bit more than the others, it was written more legibly perhaps? Or the pencil marks were darker there? – or..

”Can you remember a specific example of this problem?” Pat was pushing her a bit now, rather forcefully, Erin thought.

“An actual example from my own life? Well yes, I do remember one. It was yesterday. I was planning to baby sit with my granddaughter and the new baby this weekend, but when I phoned Cindy for the details she said, “Not this weekend! We’re packing the whole family into the car and driving to Baltimore. I’ll be in touch.” You know what? I felt useless. I felt totally unwanted ─ you might say, I felt irrelevant.”

“So, what would you like your negative phrase to be? “

“I guess I’d have the negative phrase go, “Even though I felt unwanted and useless…”

“That sounds good.” Pat said, comfortingly. “Now, how would you like, ideally to be able to handle this problem?”

Erin had known she would be asked to make an EFT Choice. Do I have to handle it? she thought. Can’t it just magically go away?

“You have to handle it.” Pat said. “Then eventually it may go away, but by that time it won’t matter anyway because you will have handled it.”

Erin supposed this was obvious, and suddenly she thought of a positive phrase. It just seemed to come out of the air:

“I choose to NOT CARE AT ALL what Cindy and the kids think and go about my own life and forget about them.”

“On the right track, but it still needs a little work.” Pat said. “Now maybe you can try to say it positively – remember, “NOTS” don’t work in EFT – the subconscious doesn’t understand NOTS, so it will read the sentence as saying, “I choose to CARE ANYMORE…” it won’t hear the NOT and this could result in you getting just the opposite result to what you want”

Erin re-thought it. “How about –– I choose to live my own life, who cares what Cindy and the kids think?”

“That’s more positive, but it still sounds to me a bit as though you’re saying “I’ll show you! No matter what you think, I’ll do what I want!” That’s not so much a Choice as an expression of anger, right?”

“But that’s exactly the way I feel! Just leave me alone! So now what should I do?” Her anger was directed at Pat now, this happens sometimes when people are trying to help – therapists claim it’s part of the process.

“Well, you might try something like…”I choose to surprise myself by using this coming weekend to do something new for myself.”

Erin felt depressed, and like anyone who is depressed, at the moment she didn’t want to be “undepressed”, it was like pressing on a sore tooth, it hurts but you can’t stop doing it!

“So, how “useless” do you feel right now on a zero to 10 point scale, before you tap?”

“I’m about a 7 or 8 I guess, not entirely useless of course. I don’t see that this phrase will do much good .” she added.

“Never mind about what you don’t see, things can change. Will you please do me a favor and do one round of the Choices Trio? Then we’ll see where you are.”

Erin decided to cooperate. She did one round of the Choices Trio. “Finished” she said, so Pat at the other end of the phone could know that she was done.

“Did any special thoughts go through your mind while you were tapping, or do you have some particular thoughts now?” Pat asked.

“Just that I can’t be that useless. My friends really enjoy me, and then I do the volunteering at the First Aid Squad where I’m very effective, and I like doing my paintings, and I’m going to have one exhibited in the County Arts Exhibition, and things like that.”

“So where does that put you now on a 0 to 10 “Useless” scale?

“Around a 5 or 6.“

“Will you please do that round again?”

“Again? The same wording?”

“The exact same wording.”

Erin tapped all three rounds of the Choices Trio once again, and then said, “It occurred to me while I was tapping that I haven’t been too happy. I’ve even been a bit scared, about that County Art Exhibition. I feel out of line or something daring to put my painting up there, as though I didn’t have a right to.”

“Oh? Will you change your EFT wording now to address this new aspect?” Pat was asking her to do this. “How about, “Even though I have no right to put my painting up in an Art Exhibit, I choose to enjoy discovering what it feels like to do that.?”

“Okay. I’m at about an 8 on anxiety when I think about it – it’s more difficult for me than I thought.” She tapped a round of the Choices Trio.

At the end of it she said, “It felt better this time, not a lot but for a fleeting moment I felt a tiny bit curious about what response people would have to my painting of the wheat field and the horses. I felt this a little bit, and then I had those negative thoughts, and…”

“If you can feel curious at all, you can be curious.” Pat had interrupted her. “A little step is always a big step because it means you CAN move along that path. So, will you kindly tap on that statement again?”

Why again? Erin was discouraged. She was already feeling a little better, she was about a “5” now on the Intensity Scale. Why push her luck? She began to thank Pat for listening to her and to explain that she had to get to the bank before it closed…

“Please –– just do it again.” Pat apparently hadn’t heard her comment about the bank, or…

Erin tapped again with the whole Choices Trio and then she found herself, suddenly, a “3” on the Intensity Scale. “I don’t know why I don’t have as much right as anyone else to exhibit my painting!” she said forcefully. ”The reason I submitted it was because I liked it and I wanted to get a response to it. You know what? I think I’ll go to the exhibit but not let the visitors know that I’m the artist, I’ll just lurk around and watch people’s responses. They will never know I painted it.”

“No they won’t, and you’re not the first artist who ever did this.” Pat said. “Do you like your painting?”

“I do because I loved that scene and the painting has really caught the spirit of it. Yes, I’m very pleased with it.”

“It may not interest some people, of course, you know that”. Pat was playing devil’s advocate now, beginning to test Erin “Nothing interests everybody. How do you feel about that?”

“I don’t feel so good about that, but I could bear it.”

“How about tapping on a new statement like : “Even though some people may not be interested in my painting, I choose to find it very satisfying that this lovely scene was captured and is out there in the open.”

“I’d rather come right out and say “…even though some people may not like it because that could happen.”

“Great. Do it!”

Erin tapped on that phrase. When she finished she was now down to a “2” on the issue of the Exhibition She thought, now I’d like to see what happens on that day.

Pat asked her to “reel back the videotape” to the time when her daughter told her that the family would be going to Baltimore this weekend – and see how that felt NOW.

Erin laughed. “It will give me a chance to do another painting.” she said. “In fact, I don’t see where I’m affected by this – if they want to go to Baltimore they want to go to Baltimore, it really has nothing to do with me. And this sets me free. Weekends are my only good time to paint because I work all week and I’m tired at the end of the day…. Yes, I’m fine, so I think I’ll go now and ─.”

“Wait a minute,” Pat said. “What about the Big Issue, people over Fifty in our Society? How does that seem to you now?”

Erin mused. “It’s there and its very important in our society, and I’d like to do something to help other women my age realize how they can prevent it from ruining their lives. Only I don’t feel now that it needs to stop me personally from what I want to do – that’s my own choice”. Then she laughed, “I didn’t intend that as a pun! “ she said.

Pat let her get off the phone, she had to leave too, but the BIG question had been put into perspective –– by tapping on the “lesser” ones.

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