Eva (**name and details changed to protect privacy) was one of those people you might think probably “has it all”.
Stunning looks and figure. We are talking model material.
Nice husband, a “pigeon pair” of children, cute little girl and attractive sporty, smart boy.
A good professional job. No money worries. A lovely house.
A seemingly nice circle of supportive friends.
What could be wrong here?
Social Anxiety, that’s what.
Negative self talk which for many years has prevented Eva from leading her life the way she wanted to.
She described some of her “ANTS” or Automatic Negative Thoughts to me:
I’m boring. I’ve got nothing interesting to say.
Why would anyone want to spend time with me?
These thoughts continually played in her head.
She couldn’t turn them off or quieten them herself, no matter what she did.
She told me she avoids or sneaks out of social engagements, because of this crippling anxiety.
Which left her feeling isolated and lonely.
She didn’t want to spend all of her time at home with her kids and husband.
In fact she craved adult female company.
But home was the only place she really felt safe and comfortable.
Being in social situations had become so anxiety provoking, she spent the whole time fearing someone would walk away from her mid-sentence, affirming her belief that she is “boring”.
She rated the intensity as 10/10, and she hoped tapping could help.
Although Eva had some nice friends she knew she could initiate things with, she hated to do this, assuming that “everyone is too busy”.
But deep down she believed that they would only spend time with her to be “nice” anyway, like they were doing her a favour.
In searching for where this all started, Eva came up with a few fairly traumatising times in her life, where she was left to question her own judgement around friends and relationships in general.
A nasty long-term boyfriend, who criticised and corrected her when she was in her twenties.
And a few very close female friendships which then turned sour in one way or another, leading her to conclude that it’s “not safe” to trust people, or to be vulnerable with people, as they can hurt you.
In amongst these traumatic incidents, Eva had decided she was not worthwhile.
Not interesting. Not good enough.
She expressed her deepest fear was that she was on her way to ending up like her mother, who was a depressed and anxious recluse.
She had a very negative relationship with her mum, who was controlling, unhappy and critical about everything.
Nothing was ever good enough for her mum.
Not even her beautiful, smart daughter.
Realistically this was probably where most of her psychological issues started initially.
When I asked Eva how she would like to feel instead of all of the above, she went quiet.
I asked her about some of her positive qualities we could “tap in” at the end, to replace all of these negative beliefs about herself. She struggled to think of any.
Eventually she conceded that she was a good friend, and is “giving”.
We tapped on all these negative thoughts, and around those horrible moments when she had realised that some people didn’t like her the way she thought they did.
The feelings of rejection and abandonment were so strong.
I explained to Eva that her social anxiety was her mind’s way of trying to protect her from experiencing that rejection again. The threat detection centre of her brain (the amygdala) was warning her “this is not safe, you can’t trust yourself, or these people. You could get hurt. Remember what happened last time! Go home now!”.
What I love about tapping is that the part of your brain responsible for talking and thinking (the neocortex) sort of gets out of the way. So you can talk directly to the part of the brain where the trauma and stress response is stored; the amygdala.
We talked softly to Eva’s amygdala, tapping through the points, thanking it for doing such a good job, trying to protect her. But also letting it know that Eva wanted to grow past these old hurts now, and that would mean taking some risks.
We asked her amygdala to reduce it’s stress response where friendships and social situations were concerned, so she could practice feeling safer around people, outside the comfort of her home and family. This was a huge session for Eva, as we also talked about her relationship with her mum. She left feeling drained but calm and hopeful.
Eva attended a number of sessions for follow up on various issues, and has learned to tap for herself at home. She relayed recently that tapping has made a huge a difference to her social anxiety, which she now rated between 0-2/10 in intensity.
Whilst she still struggles occasionally with these old negative thoughts, she manages them better. She reports that the anxiety is much less intense when it is there, and it no longer prevents her from socialising with her female friends.
Who, it turns out, really do enjoy spending time with her.