Today I want to talk about some of the emotional aspects that I would explore with a client when applying EFT to the issue of weight loss. As with most issues, when it comes to applying EFT, a very useful question to ask ourselves is: “How can we break this issue down into specific events?”
In other words, you want to try to break it down from a “general issue table top” down to the “specific table legs or events”. And once you find them, you can tap on the unpleasant emotional charge connected to these aspects and events. In the case of weight loss, some of these aspects and events might be:
– Recent or future events about how the weight has affected the person and/or how they feel about their weight. For example: “When I think about my cousin’s upcoming wedding, and how hard it’s going to be to find something I can wear, I feel disgusted at myself”. So, by tapping on this “future event” you are helping them diminish or release the negative feelings that this issue brings up for them.
This is important because shame and self-judgment, while they might increase our desire to “resolve the issue”, they actually tend to make it harder to take action and they can end up making us even more stuck. The classic example of this kind of vicious cycle is when we overeat because we are feeling upset about something, and then afterwards we feel ashamed and now we eat again as a way to numb those feelings of shame.
– Specific events connected to what triggers them nowadays into overeating. For example, maybe it’s whenever the kids misbehave, or whenever their spouse criticizes them, or after a stressful day at work. The more at peace they can feel around these triggers, the less they’ll need that food.
An example of a setup statement might be: “Even though when I imagine the next time that I tell my kids to go to bed and they start complaining that it’s too early, I feel so frustrated at them, why won’t they just listen to me? I feel this frustration in my chest, and this is what I’m feeling right now”.
– Specific events that might have taken place at the time when the client started gaining weight (or that happened leading up to that time). For example, maybe it was their parents’ divorce that felt too overwhelming at the time and your client ended up resorting to food as a way to comfort themselves or make those feelings a bit more bearable. So, are there any specific scenes from that time period that stand out in your client’s mind and that maybe still hold an unpleasant emotional charge?
An example of a setup statement might be something like: “Even though when I remember that time at school when my friend was talking about how awful it would be if his parents got divorced, and mine had just divorced, I feel so sad about how alone and isolated I felt at the time, and I feel this sadness in my throat. I accept this is what I’m feeling right now”.
– Future events of what might go wrong if they manage to lose weight. These are sometimes known as “secondary gains”. An example might be: “I’ll have to throw away all my clothes and then buy new ones, it’s going to be very expensive, what if I then put up all the weight again?”. Another example might be “If I lose the weight I’ll have to deal with the unwanted attention from other people/men”.
An example of a setup statement could be something like: “Even though when I imagine myself having lost 15 pounds and now I’m looking at all my clothes thinking I should throw them away and buy new ones, but what if I then gain back all the weight? I just feel so overwhelmed thinking about this, and this is what I’m noticing right now”.
– Future or past events of what might go wrong during the process of losing weight. For example: “I can imagine myself coming home from work feeling really stressed and feeling like I deserve to reward myself with some ice-cream, but I know I can’t eat ice-cream now, and I feel really sad about that”. Or: “When I imagine working out at the gym, it just feels so hard, and I feel hopeless about that”. Or: “When I remember last night eating that extra plate that I didn’t really need, I feel really ashamed of myself”.
– Working on specific cravings. This might sound like: “Even though when I think about how delicious this ice-cream is, it’s so sweet and I really love sugar, this is what I’m noticing right now”. Or: “Even though I feel like I really deserve these chips, after all it’s been such a hard day at work, and it feels like food is a friend I can always count on to make me feel better, I feel really sad saying that, this is what I’m noticing right now”.
The more you can help someone diminish the emotional charge around these and other aspects, the less difficult it’s probably going to be for them to be able to lose the weight and not gain it back.
It might also be helpful to help them become clear on why they want to lose the weight. Is it something they really want to do or is it something they think they should do or are supposed to do based on someone else’s wishes or expectations? Getting clearer on their why might help them increase their level of motivation if it’s indeed something they truly want, or decide that this isn’t something they actually want to pursue, and that’s ok too.