By Carol Solomon, PhD, MCC
Mary had been having difficulty controlling her urges to eat sweets.
When I asked her what was going on in her life recently, she said she was preparing for an upcoming trip.
Mary had a bad knee and her husband had signed her up for some walking tours when they got to their destination.
When we examined the emotions behind this event, they centered on several themes:
- Mary was anxious about traveling because of the long flight and all the walking she would have to do when she got there.
- Mary was feeling resentful that her husband did not understand her knee problem and blamed it on her weight. She felt that he wasn’t taking her preferences into account.
- Mary also felt angry with herself for not being more assertive with her husband about scheduling activities that were potentially too strenuous for her.
We started tapping on all of these emotions:
Even though I’m angry and resentful about this trip, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I feel resentful that my opinion doesn’t matter to him, I love and accept myself.
Even though I’m angry with myself for not standing up for myself, I love and accept myself anyway.
Reminder phrases included her emotional responses, such as anxiety, resentment and anger, along with statements that might trigger those emotions to help her tune in to the issues.
Anxiety about the trip
I’m worried about my knee
I’m not sure I can do it
All this anger
All this resentment
Anger at him
He doesn’t understand
He’s not taking my opinion into account
My opinion doesn’t matter
Anger at myself for not standing up for me
I’m compromising myself in order to avoid conflict
I’m compromising myself to please him
And I’m paying the price
At this point, Mary realized that there was a deeper issue at play here.
First, she realized that the anger and resentment she felt toward herself fueled the urge to overeat.
Second, she realized that she wanted to please other people in order to feel loved. She felt bad about herself because of her weight (“I don’t feel good enough because of my weight”) and being overweight fueled her negative thinking. Mary uncovered a huge core issue related to her weight and the need to please.
Her behavior was governed by these beliefs:
- “If I try really hard to please them, they won’t notice my weight.”
- “If I try really hard to please them, they will still love me.”
- “If I weighed what ‘they’ think I should weigh, then they would love me more, and I wouldn’t have to try so hard.”
- “The more I put on weight, the more I feel the need to please.”
The bottom line: Mary did not feel “good enough” because of her weight, so she tried to make up for it by jumping though hoops to please other people (so that they wouldn’t notice her weight). In doing so, she not only exhausted herself, but felt chronically angry and resentful.
Once Mary could see these patterns clearly and toned down the emotional aspects with EFT, then she felt much freer to behave differently. She can now say no to others without fear of losing their love.
It can be difficult to change a long-standing pattern, but when you identify the core issue that is holding it in place, it often collapses on its own. While Mary was still concerned about the demands of the trip, she felt much more empowered to act on her own behalf and say no to any activities that were not in her best interest.