Today I had what I like to call a “therapist-heal-thyself” moment. I lost my credit card somewhere between my ice cream cone purchase last night and my quick trip to Target this morning. Losing things- especially important things- is something that drives me crazy and instantly kicks in my negative self talk soundtrack.

“What are you doing, this is so irresponsible? How could you possibly lose your credit card AGAIN?!? Seriously… who does that twice in one year?!? And did you really need that ice cream anyway?”

Its not a nice soundtrack but, it’s something that I bet most of you can relate to. Often when we make an error or do something we regret the voice that pops into our minds is not one of compassion or forgiveness. But thankfully in between beating myself up and frantic phone calls to the ice cream shop, the compassionate and caring voice that comes out of me so easily when I talk to clients piped up. {yes… I really do talk to myself like this:-)}

“Whoa- let’s ease up on the negativity. Every person alive is making mistakes, that’s part of our humanity. And besides you’ve been stressed and stress usually leads you to forgetfulness, doesn’t it? Losing a credit card, although frustrating, is a solvable problem. The real question is what are we going to do about the emotional overload that is happening right now? Maybe it’s time to use our stress management skills.”

And so I took a deep breath and wondered if I really was ready to let go of my stress-induced total freak out moment. You see, for most of us there is a familiar comfort that comes with our high stress, negative self-talk response. Too often, we live with an internal belief that says if we let go of this overwhelming crisis response then I’ll become complacent and won’t become a better person.

And even though as a therapist I know better, I also find myself occasionally buying into the false idea that if I cut myself a break, forgive my very human error, and calm down that I won’t “learn my lesson” or “do better next time”. But the real lesson here is that when we learn to turn down our fight or flight crisis response that we can effectively deal with whatever challenges life throws our way.

So want to know my secret to slowing down and stopping the freak out?

It’s called Tapping. And I don’t mean tap dancing (although that might be a fun stress-reliever if you have a little rhythm}.

There are many techniques for managing stress and handling an over-reactive stress response but today I used tapping. Probably because I was already planning to share a cool video about it with you this week but either way its a tool I use often in my personal life and with clients- most of whom are facing traumas a lot more complex than my missing credit card.

I first learned about tapping as part of some training I’ve done in EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing.  It’s got a big name that sounds complicated and a little bit scary but it’s an awesome therapeutic model for recovering from trauma and managing a fight or flight response that’s out of control.  Tapping is a nice tool to help clients prepare for EMDR and other forms of trauma work… and a great way to manage our “smaller” daily traumas like lost credit cards, frustrating co-workers, or stressful final exams.

{I’ll tell you more about EMDR in another post sometime very soon}.

I really like this video clip below from MarieTV with Marie Forleo interviewing Nick Ortner is a great intro into the how-to of tapping. Check it out and let me know what you think. Would you try it? What questions do you have about it?  Have you done it before?

A couple of important notes to keep in mind before you watch…

Tapping has the potential for getting you touch with some deeper emotional challenges that you may not be expecting to come up. I strongly suggest that if you have a history of trauma or abuse that you explore the use of tapping with a therapist first. It’s important to set up a safe and reliable support system when exploring deep or painful trauma experiences. If you have questions or would like to work with one of our therapists please call or email our office. We would love to teach you this and many other tools for managing complex trauma responses.

I also want to mention that as you watch the full video or visit Nick Ortner’s website you will hear {or read} him mention EFT. What he is talking is Emotional Freedom Technique; it is different from the EFT you may have seen on our blog or learned about in our couples retreats. We’ve talked about Emotionally Focused Therapy which is a research-based model of couples therapy developed by Dr. Sue Johnson that works on adult attachment issues and emotional connection. Emotionally Focused Therapy is an effective approach to working with adult relationships however it does not include the use of tapping. This is not to minimize the usefulness of Emotional Freedom Technique for both individuals and couples  but to give you some clarity between the two EFT models.

If you’d like to learn more about Emotional Freedom Technique check out Nick’s website or pick up his new book, The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living.

And for more info on Sue Johnson and Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples, visit her website and check out her book for couples, Hold Me Tight: 7 Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.

I’m excited to hear from you guys on this simple technique for reducing stress and anxiety.