This is a guide to how I approach personal change as an EFT Tapping Coach. From working with hundreds of clients, this is what I think is the number one most important thing to focus on when doing our personal development work.
So you’ve been committed to making a positive life change. You’ve read some inspiring books, have a tapping practice, and attend wellness workshops. But the positive shifts in how you feel never seem to stick around. Your tapping results are lacklustre, and you wonder if it even works. You end up feeling stuck again, and still don’t know how to get out of it.
Why do so many personal development approaches, which have a great track record, still not work for us?
We can all think of someone whose life turned around after discovering tai chi or nutrition, but we can think of just as many, including ourselves, who gave it a shot but never felt the same earth-shattering revelations.
The reason is that we never made it across something called "the Dip."
Before showing you the Dip, let's take a look at how we tend to expect getting unstuck will go. Get ready to be awed by some advanced MS Paint skills:
Sounds about right. I pay my gym membership dues up front and I'm gonna ride that line like an escalator out of my muffin-top life.
Except, it's actually like this:
This is The Dip.
This is how it actually happens. Ha, we intuitively know this but still don't expect it, right?
But this line also describes everything. Relationships, learning a new skill, and so on.
And for our purposes here, it gives us crucial insight when it comes to getting the life-changing results we're working toward in a coaching program, EFT Tapping practice, or anything else wellness-related for that matter.
To be successful at creating sustainable change, we have to understand what's at work here. Because most of us stay stuck in old patterns or feel like we've failed when we don’t ride that line through the bottom of “the Dip.”
So let's talk about what’s at the bottom of the Dip and how to make it to the other side.
Resolving to Change
I'm going to repurpose the Dip from Seth Godin and say it's a line that represents the positive results from our self-development efforts. The higher the line goes, the better we feel. We can also see that things get harder before they get better. But they do get much better.
The start of the line is the point in time when we decide to make a positive life change. Maybe we commit to going to yoga 3 times per week, or we decide to start seeing a counsellor. You can imagine that life isn’t all great at this point – things have gotten bad enough that we’ve decided we need to take action.
When we begin making the new change (going to yoga or seeing a counsellor), we start to see some improvement in our quality of life almost right away. We are in the honeymoon of personal development. We just lost 5 pounds during the induction phase of Keto, we bought a yoga membership and went 2 times already, or we started a new mindfulness practice and our morning routine is changing how we feel all day. This is where it feels great and we're really proud of ourselves.
But then, you know what happens usually. After a few days, weeks or months, we start to slide down the line.
Not feeling so good anymore.
Maybe we felt real good for a while and figured we could skip out on yoga. Only, we don't get back on the bandwagon.
Or, in a move that makes no sense, our body or mind stops responding to the treatment. We go back to feeling how we did before we started making all this change.
Now we're depressingly aware that the same old stuff we were trying to fix has come back. And the recent failed attempt at change has thrown our confidence out the window. It’s no longer clear what will work. We're stuck. This can happen with EFT Tapping, with coaching, counselling and all types of therapy.
Continuing to doll out all the extra money and effort on coaching programs or other therapies now feels like a big waste of time. This is where most of us will say, “this isn’t working!” and quit. We return to our regular habits.
Why Do We Stop Seeing Progress during EFT Tapping, therapy, etc.?
Assuming your progress didn't stall because of an ineffectual treatment, or poorly-trained therapist, you've just hit the Quit Point. It's a normal part of the personal development journey. But if we don't understand that, and we just tune into the feedback from our emotions, (This is such a waste of time! I'm a failure!) we're going to shelve the whole thing for a while.
And this is why we don’t get unstuck.
Should we have kept on with yoga or counselling? Let’s take a look at what happened to see how we can make choices that work better for us!
First important point: when we started making those changes to our life, we were doing the things we already knew how to do.
Yoga or counselling might have been the obvious choice when asking ourselves, “what would make me feel better right now?” We showed up at class, but without having actually changed anything inside of ourselves yet. We were waiting for the environment to work it's magic on us.
And it did - we felt great for a bit.
And then all this change hit the stuff we all have lurking in our Blind Spot.
Intuitively, we avoid that stuff. Mostly because we just don't know how to manage the emotional feedback we're getting (hello, panic attack!). We didn't expect this and think it's a Bad Sign.
Both of those very normal reactions keep us from stepping far out of our comfort zone. We thought we could merrily go about changing without looking in our Blind Spot. Meanwhile, our Blind Spot stuff was just waiting all this time for such a healing opportunity!
(Caveat - if your therapist, EFT Practitioner or coach is pushing too hard, they may trigger too much stuff before you've got the skills to handle it and that's also not safe. Bear that in mind; we're going for the middle ground here.)
The essential piece here is that at the beginning of our personal development journey, we didn't give up believing anything that we've already been believing all along. We just piled a whole bunch of positive thinking and willpower on top and hoped for the best.
But we eventually hit a point where the old beliefs were no longer congruent with the changes that we set out to make. That's when our progress appeared to stall, or reverse. That's when things stopped being fun.
Second important point: What making those changes did do, however, was create just enough friction between our old beliefs and the new behaviours that life became really uncomfortable.
We were trying to hold onto the best of both worlds - somehow "living our best life" while also not letting go of the old one.
For example, say you decide to take care of yourself by going to a wellness class. Spending that additional time away from home might cause friction with your family. What would you believe is the appropriate solution if you're used to always letting others have their way? You stop going. If you keep going, it's going to cause major emotional friction!
Here's another example: say you start a 21-day tapping challenge and begin to find yourself feeling more upbeat, energetic and motivated. You start to think, maybe I should get out of this dead-end job and do what I've always wanted to do in my career. Your heart soars at the thought. But when you try to update your resume, you hit a wall and feel heavy and unmotivated. Why? You're used to hiding your shine, minimizing your successes.. and frankly it's terrifying what would be expected of you if you actually were that successful. So what do you do? You stop.
Our Priority is Always Safety First
The changes that are beginning inside of us cause us to shake up everything that's been constant and safe in life. And although our life up until now may feel like a cramped little room for our soul, at least we know the rules. We could manage the demons we know. We believe that stepping outside that space is dangerous, stupid, or impossible.
The changes we’re making are threatening a foundation we’ve worked hard to build for ourselves in a crazy, unpredictable world. What if we're asking for too much? What if it actually sucks at the finish line?
All of the evidence from our entire life says this is crazy! This is stupid! Stop! Stop!
In fact, life often feels chaotic, stressful, or dangerous at this point on the curve. We begin to experience confusion, overwhelm and anxiety. Our work performance, sleep, relationships and diet suffer. It's definitely easier to pack up and quit, and tell ourselves, "this wasn't what I wanted."
But we aren't quitting based on good data.
Which brings us to the third important point: We're quitting because we receive a payoff from staying stuck.
When Nothing Working for you is Working for You
There's an awesome EFT Tapping video by Brad Yates that you can tap along to. He's got thousands of them and this particular one is for tapping on "nothing works for me!"
I found it when I was feeling really stuck and searching for help in my slump. Even thought I was working an EFT Practitioner, nothing was working for me from my toolbox. I felt flawed and hopeless, and began to tell myself that my stuff was just too big to overcome. As I ruminated, I pictured my whole life being half-alright, and half-miserable, and that being as good as it would get.
Luckily, I found this video of his and it helped me back out of my delirium. Brad Yates says, if nothing's working for you, it's because that works for you.
It's just how we are as people - we are always doing what works for us. Always. Even when it hurts us, we do it because not doing it appears a worse option. We're doing what works for us.
Of course. We learn this everywhere. Whatever we persistently try to change, but never get results with, is something we're receiving a hidden payoff from.
Therefore, whatever modality we're trying, each is a potential door to feeling better. The important thing is: are we paying close attention to what fears come up at that point where things start to slide downhill?
Common Limiting Beliefs that Create Hidden Payoffs (Tap on these!)
Every time you rise up out of your funk, challenging yourself to greater things, your hidden payoffs will spring up and try to take you out, until you address them. This will eventually start to feel normal.
There are the most common hidden payoffs that I encounter with my clients. They make GREAT targets for your EFT Tapping practice.
If I can do it for myself, no one will take care of me ever.
I'm not allowed to ask for what I need, because I have to take care of others' feelings.
I'll just have to work even harder, and I'll be even more miserable.
If I let myself be happy, I'll let those assholes off the hook.
I'll feel like such an idiot for not having done it earlier on.
I know I can relate to a few of those. What about you? Think back to the times you've tried to get unstuck. What arose that took you out? What was the reason you felt you couldn't go further?
How often does this reason come up in your life?
Going Through the Dip
Imagine there's a toll booth at the bottom of the Dip. There's a cost to get to the other side. You have to exchange your old worldview for a new one, and it's going to feel like you're paying with your life. That's the price of freedom!
We can't hold on tightly to old beliefs and hidden payoffs and expect new ones to have a place to grow.
We need to create space first. Which typically feels like taking a crazy risk and throwing our future away. No big deal.
We all have many limiting beliefs, but it’s usually one or two that are foundational and the ones really messing us up.
These beliefs are usually invisible to us. It’s easy to see when others are holding themselves back, but when we do it, it feels like we’re making the best choice available. Being able to identify these beliefs and challenge them takes lots of kindness toward ourselves, and usually some support through the process by an outside person.
What We Need to Know About the Dip
The Dip shows us that personal development work predictably gets hard. It feels the worst after an initial improvement.
When we stop making progress, it's because we're receiving a hidden payoff. This hidden payoff is the natural outcome of our system of beliefs - we're always doing what works for us. Our actions are based on the beliefs that we've been carrying about our world.
In order to get to the other side, and reap the benefits of our hard work, we have to be mindful of the beliefs and hidden payoffs holding us back.
To change these beliefs, we have to be prepared to question that the way we understand our world may not be true or accurate. It comes with the territory to also mend the hurt and fear these beliefs were protecting us from. This is a deeply compassionate process of taking responsibility for our hurts. This is the process of transformation.
The Support Line
There’s a second line on this model that needs to be added because just reading about this isn't going to do anything for us. It's hard work, I know!
This is the Support Line, an alternate route that you can travel to get to the other side of the Dip.
The Support Line is exactly what it sounds like – the path you take when you’re being supported from the outside by friends, guides, coaches, family or community. As you can see, it’s a lot easier to do it this way. It’s also much faster.
Did I tell you about the time I spent nearly over a decade trying to figure out how to manage my stuff all by myself, because I thought Googling my issues would be enough? Yeah. Not doing that again!
Things will still get harder before they get better, but with adequate support, you don’t waste so much time slogging through the jungle of your thoughts, trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not.
Go for the Support Line.
Once a limiting belief that was generating a hidden payoff has been disproven, the whole world opens up. We realize that our old view of the world or ourselves was in some way untrue.
This is wonderful news: when we get that jumping-off-the-cliff feeling around committing to a new action that challenges our old worldview, we're actually growing our wings so we can soar.
With a new paradigm to explore, a plan of action to spontaneously emerges, and the energy to execute it finally arrives. This is because we’re able to take advantage of opportunities and support that were previously invisible or forbidden due to our limiting beliefs.
It is going to be alright, and I'm actually alright just as I am.
I'm not responsible for managing others' emotions.
I can feel good even if the world is still as it was yesterday.
I can have more personal power than ever, and that's allowed.
It's safe to slow down, and work at a comfortable pace.
Feeling Free and Seeing Results
That’s when we begin the rapid climb back up the curve, out of the Dip, and leave behind our old ways of being.
Let’s look at what happens when you come to the other side of the Dip.
The curve coming out of the Dip is steep, showing that you experience rapid, positive change.
It feels like the colour has returned to your world, or like there is magic in your everyday life. Serendipitous things keep happening that make the changes possible, because you are now open to them. New people and connections arrive quickly. You feel grateful and optimistic.
You feel more like yourself than you've ever felt before.
During this time, you may take a big leap, like quit your job, sell your home, or move to a new city. You may also change your look, your primary relationship (or how you behave in it), make a new friend group, or start a new hobby. Your outward appearance and lifestyle change to reflect the inner transformations that have taken place.
From here, you’re also able to look back and clearly see why you were so stuck. You understand why your old life and ways of thinking weren’t working for you. These are lessons that you keep. They become foundational in your understanding of yourself. Once you cross the Dip, you don’t go back.
You can see that at the end of the curve, you’re much better off in terms of quality of life than you were at the start. The curve by no means ends here. Life is a learning journey after all!
But as it goes on, you continue to improve your life by improving your ability to see without filters (limiting beliefs) skewing the picture. You start to be aware of how all your behaviour is just trying to meet your needs. It's OK to forgive yourself for getting a payoff, and to make the appropriate changes on a timeline that works for you.
The opportunity here is to understand more and more what brings purpose and meaning to you, that is, what’s in alignment with your soul-nature. This is the art of transformation. :)
And that is the Dip!
Putting it Into Practice
“If you want to confront a problem, you have to go looking for it — and cannot avert your eyes when you find it.” -Frank Sesno
Get out your journal. Really, don't just read this, go get it! Writing down these answers will be the difference between getting yourself further along your path, or your awesome self just having a nice new concept to chew on for a day.
What comes up consistently whenever you reach for change?
- What am I worried will happen if I make this change?
- How am I worried others will react?
- How am I worried I will feel?
- What do I do when I have these worries? (procrastinate, eat, get angry, etc.)
- What is the benefit I get from doing the above?
- At what point in my life might I have learned to act this way and believe these fears?*
- *Do you have a history of trauma, or does that question flood you with intense emotion? Put this question away for working on together with your counsellor, and use your self-soothing tools. <3
- What's the cost of continuing to believe that today?
- What might be possible if this weren't true?
- How could I find out if it's true or not?
Your best leverage point is to tackle your hidden payoff in order to make a breakthrough. A coach, counsellor, EFT Practitioner or mentor can help support you in creating a mindset free of limiting beliefs, or building new relationship skills that allow you to change the dynamics in your relationships.
I promise you can do it.
You have more freedom, joy and possibility than ever to look forward to! :)