Dear EFT Community,
EFT practitioner, Sandy Zeldes helps a client use EFT to clear the emotional grieving underlying her binge-eating problem. Identifying and releasing the unconscious grief helped this client stop binge eating and deal with the pain she was feeling in a much healthier way.
By Sandy Zeldes, Certified EFT Practitioner
Sometimes binge eating is a coping strategy that develops in order to numb difficult or painful emotions. As a strategy, it can certainly work for a while in terms of "numbing out" painful emotions, but the consequences are often low self-esteem, as well as weight gain, and a sense of feeling out of control.
It can be scary to let go of something that seems to be "working" for you, however painful the consequences, if you do not have another way to process your raw emotions. You often become unconscious when reaching for food, and unconscious of the emotional experience guiding this action because you have conditioned yourself to avoid feeling the emotion.
I believe that you lose a big part of who you are in being this way.
I was working with a client who was a binge eater her entire life to to cope with her painful emotions. She was in her 50's and her career was in a helping profession. She was very aware of her reasons for binge eating and even understood how to help others with emotional issues--just not herself. She was successful in her professional life, but felt like a failure in her personal life.
She was also annoyed at her ability to help other people, but not herself (I hear this quite a bit from women in the healing professions. They are great at helping others, but still struggle with their own issues that they tend to ignore).
We began our session with tapping on her frustration over this, then her deeper issue came up about self-worth.
I asked her to take some slow, deep breaths before tapping. (Whenever a client seems to be in a desperate place, where I can tell that they are not connected to their feelings or body experience, I always begin with asking them to close their eyes and take several slow deep breaths.)
Side of the hand:
Even though I am great at helping everyone else with their problems, but I can't help myself, I choose to accept my feelings.
Even though I am an expert at being helpful for my kids and students, but when it comes to helping myself through this problem, I'm a failure, I choose to deeply and completely accept myself anyway.
Even though I'm totally humiliated and frustrated that I haven't been able to help myself through this problem with over-eating and I'm ashamed, I choose to deeply and completely accept myself anyway.
During tapping sessions, I will often use how someone explains the problem to me for the Set-up phrases. If they do not get a significant SUD Level of Intensity scale reduction after tapping several rounds, then I will be more specific by asking them exactly which feelings bring up the most intensity.
I can't help myself with over-eating.
I'm great at helping everyone else.
I'm actually an expert at helping everyone else.
But I can't do it for myself.
I'm so ashamed.
Side of body:
Top of the head:
I'm a failure at this area of my life.
After around 2 or 3 rounds of tapping on being ashamed and humiliated, and that she felt that she was totally out of control in this one area of her life--yet great in many other areas--she had an insight.
She realized that she had always felt embarrassed and ashamed, like she wasn't really "good enough" and it wasn't just about her issue with food.
We began tapping on all of the ways that she felt like a failure with food, and therefore her life.
Side of the hand:
Even though I've always been such a failure with food, I choose to deeply and completely accept myself anyway.
Even though I'll always be this way, I'm a total failure with food and that means I'm a failure entirely. I choose to love and accept myself.
Even though I'll always be this way, I'm a failure with food and I accept and love myself completely now.
I'm a total failure with food.
I'll always be a total failure with food.
I'm a failure with food.
I'll always be a failure with food.
Because of this failure with food I am a total failure.
I choose to know that I am not a total failure just because I have had this problem with food and I choose to know that I am healing this issue now.
This client was ready for a positive reframe at this point because I could feel her shift. Positive reframes won't "take" if we try to use them too early before the unconscious mind is ready. I find that as I feel someone shift enough, I try introducing the new idea and see if it works.
How do I know if it works? Because their belief gets shifted, or there is a major SUD level drop.
After about 15 more minutes of tapping she felt much better. She had no remaining intensity around being humiliated over her inability to heal her emotional eating, or feeling like a failure because of it.
At this point in the session, she became aware of being extremely sad over her sister's problems with obesity and cancer diagnosis. She hadn't been aware of just how much her sister's health was affecting her emotionally. The sadness was extreme and it brought up fears of losing her sister in the same way that she lost her mother to cancer.
Although it may seem obvious that an extremely painful emotion would be the cause of binge eating, or underlying the need to binge, I find that many binge eaters have no idea what the root cause is. To them, the binge eating simply happens automatically and the actual feelings are suppressed, even when it seems obvious later on. It is a powerful, intelligent defense mechanism.
Side of the hand, three times:
Even though I'm afraid of losing my sister like I lost mom, I choose to love and accept all of my feelings now.
I don't want to lose my sister.
Outer eye & Under eye:
I can't lose my sister too.
Lip, Chin & Collar bone:
I don't want to lose her.
We tapped on this specific issue for several rounds, going back to the side of the hand a few times for the remaining fear of losing her sister until her SUD Level was almost zero. There were other aspects to her grief and fear of loss so we spent another 20 minutes tapping on how terrible the loss would be and how she thought she could not handle the pain.
Four weeks later, she was still not binge eating, where it had been her daily experience.
I believe that this was an example of unexpressed grief over the loss of her mother that was triggered by her sister's health issues. Identifying and releasing her hidden grief helped her face her emotions and know that tapping was available anytime she felt the need to deal with pain rather than turning to food for comfort.