Imagine there's a guard up in a tower, looking over the surrounding land for possible danger. When the guard sees something suspicious, they ring an enormous bell that can be heard throughout the city. Everyone immediately goes on alert when they hear that bell and all business as usual stops. The only priority is survival.
This guard is a good analogy for the part of your brain called your amygdala. You can also think of your amygdala as your fear control centre. When you perceive a threat, uncertainty or stressful situation - even unconsciously - your amygdala activates your fight, flight, freeze and fawn responses. The amygdala lives deep in your emotional brain - that means below the level of conscious, wise and compassionate thinking.
This response to danger is helpful when there truly is a threat that needs our swift, immediate attention. But the rest of the time, it just causes us to feel wound up, less creative, overwhelmed or discouraged about our goals. Then we have to work even harder to get over the internal resistance! Which incidentally creates more stress.. oh, I know!
Of course, we try to work our way out of it. But there's a good reason why talking about it, journalling about it, or trying to focus on the positive often doesn't do the trick: it's your body that's reacting, not your conscious mind. Your amygdala and nervous system are reacting, not the real you.
Here's where emotional freedom techniques come in and really do live up to their name. Tapping tells the fear control centre in our brain (the amygdala) that it's safe to relax. We can even see this happening on functional MRI scans when the tapping points are stimulated!
When we're back in control, we get to use the thoughtful, compassionate and logical parts of our brains to make decisions and solve problems. Now, instead of reacting automatically, we can create a life of our choosing.