“Jane” was worried about her weight.
For eight years she’d had a surgical lap-band which kept her weight low. Then in February it slipped and had to be removed. By our session in November she’d gained back 90 pounds and was still gaining.
Jane has a high stress job and had gotten in the habit of bingeing in the morning on a big cinnamon roll from a local donut shop and a large can of Red Bull. This would get her up and running for her work day, sort of like a shot of adrenaline to the heart.
Jane had tried stopping a number of times to no avail. Whenever things got stressful at work she’d relapse – usually after a few days or a week or so. We met via Skype at 9am and I’d asked Jane to hold off on her morning binge so that the cravings would be high. And boy were they ever!
We began with the cinnamon roll and Jane rated the intensity of her craving at a 9.5 out of 10. Along with the cravings she reported feelings of embarrassment and shame. Especially imagining her co-workers saw her eating the cinnamon roll. Jane was careful to keep her habit hidden from the world.
In the first round of tapping I brought in every aspect I could think of about how wonderful that cinnamon roll was – the taste, the sugary frosting, the feeling of taking a big bite, how it was such a reliable ‘friend’, how she could always count on it making her feel better, the wonderful smell, etc.
To my surprise and Jane’s dismay, this first round of tapping actually made the cravings stronger! Her acute awareness of all the aspects of the cinnamon roll made the craving almost unbearably intense. For the next round I kept the wording simple – mostly just tapping on “this craving” and very quickly I could see a look of disgust on Jane’s face and stopped to check in. She was astonished that her craving seemed be at a zero!
Wanting to test these results I had Jane pick up the cinnamon roll and smell it, which actually brought the craving back up to about a 3. A quick round of tapping on the smell brought her back to zero. My next test was to have her taste the roll. I thought this might spike the craving again, but she actually had to spit it out – her cinnamon roll now tasted really disgusting. She went from a 10 to a “yuck!”
All of this took about ten minutes or so and Jane said it actually scared her. The change was so rapid and so complete she worried that it was too easy and therefore wouldn’t last. This is not an uncommon fear when big changes happen faster than our minds can account for. So we did a round of tapping on the fear that it wouldn’t last, that this was just some kind of trick and she’d be right back to bingeing, more hopeless than ever. And the fear seemed to melt away pretty quickly.
Next we tackled the Red Bull. Jane opened the can so she could smell it and her craving was a solid 9. Once again the initial tapping actually increased her craving while the next round dropped it to zero. Smelling and tasting the drink did not bring any craving back at all. “It’s just a can full of chemicals and I don’t want it”.
I know from personal experience that caffeine headaches are no fun at all. Jane had the beginnings of one by now – a 3 out of 10 intensity. She was about three hours late on her Red Bull schedule, so we tapped on the headache discomfort and the fear of it getting worse. It only took a few minutes to get her headache down to zero.
Tapping away cravings can be amazing and this was pretty spectacular, but there’s always an underlying reason for the craving and if that isn’t addressed, we’ll usually just turn to a new substance and be right back where we started.
With over half the session time left, I asked Jane about the shame she’d mentioned when imagining her co-workers seeing her eat that cinnamon roll. I had her exaggerate that scene with all the pity and contempt they’d no doubt express about her lack of self-control. It didn’t take much to get her intensity up to a 9!
Tapping on feelings of shame dropped the intensity to a 5 and also brought more clarity. The feelings were centered in her stomach and chest – a palpable terror of negative judgment. And like a homing beacon, this led us to a specific memory…
When Jane was about 5 years old she was visiting her grandparents. They took her to church where she was taught lines from the Bible and later asked to recite these lines up in front of a lot of people, including the minister and her grandparents. Unfortunately, Jane froze and couldn’t remember the lines at all.
She felt intense disappointment coming from her grandparents – she was setting a bad example for her younger siblings and embarrassing her family. The experience was excruciating for the 5 year old Jane and she decided that she wasn’t good enough and didn’t have what it takes.
Using Matrix Reimprinting we were able to tap away that 5 year old’s distress and help her feel compassion for herself. We also worked a bit with her grandparents so that they could be supportive instead of discouraging and came up with a much better picture to reimprint. The take-away was the little girl felt loved and realized that making mistakes wasn’t such a big deal. She’d be accepted no matter what.
It turned out there was a direct connection between this memory and the intense pressure Jane had been feeling at work. Her job really is inherently stressful, but this old fear of being a disappointment was making it all so much worse. This was a major reason Jane was bingeing on sugar and caffeine in the morning – to jolt herself awake and super-charge the hyper-vigilance that felt so necessary to keep her safe.
Resolving this one memory seemed to bring her a great deal of peace. About a week later I emailed Jane to see if the cravings were still gone. Her response: “100% success. A true miracle in my eyes”.
Not every session is so easy and productive. Sometimes quite a few memories need to change before a tipping point is reached, but I wanted to share this one because it really is possible to achieve massive change in 90 minutes!
Copyright Rob Nelson 2015
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