I have been surprised at the number of clients who have had their heart broken at some time in the past and are still affected by it. Traditional counseling and psychotherapy will often miss this issue altogether and when it is recognized, treat it like a grief case. (I had excellent traditional training at the University of Missouri and Virginia Tech University.)
Most people are unaware that they could still be affected by a breakup that happened a long time ago -- in some cases decades ago. Or they assume that it is something they just have to put up with.
I had a client in his fifties who stated that his relationship with his wife was wonderful in every way. But when he took a relationship test, the test revealed that there were some rough spots. When I probed the issue, he admitted that there was some friction, but rationalized that every couple had some rough spots and he assumed that his relationship was the best that he could do. We looked at specific incidents that represented these rough spots and he came up with one that he rated 8 on the 0 - 10 distress scale. We did EFT on this incident and his distress went to 2 but wouldn't go any lower. I suspected that other similar incidents were encroaching into his memory. When I asked if he had ever felt that way before, he immediately recalled the first major breakup that had occurred over 30 years before. He had been engaged with a wedding date set and guest list prepared when his fiance dumped him and left town with another man. He insisted that there had been no fight, no disagreement, no friction. She was simply there one day and gone the next. He never knew why and assumed, as humans are likely to do, that he was somehow deficient, defective, unworthy, and beyond repair. He said that he had "gotten over it."
When I asked him to focus on this old incident, he rated the current distress while thinking about it at only a 3, explaining that he had processed this breakup in traditional talk therapy years before and was surprised that there was any charge on it at all. I suggested that we use EFT and tap the residual charge down to zero. After one round of tapping he looked quite upset and I thought he had jumped to another distressing incident. He reported that now when he thought about being dumped 30 something years before, he was very angry and rated his distress at a 9.
Now some might think that EFT was clearly ineffective; he started at a 3 (mild upset), now he was a 9 (severe upset). He surely had gotten worse. What possible good was that? But, despite many sessions of traditional talk therapy, he had never accessed the incredible anger he had felt. He had been aware of the hurt, humiliation, depression, feelings of unworthiness, feelings of defectiveness, etc., but not the injustice, the unfairness, and resulting anger. He had stuffed down those feelings for over 30 years! The relatively new science of psychoneuroimmunolgy has discovered that repressing emotions suppresses the immune system, allowing all manner of health problems to develop. He had in fact suffered from various illnesses including cancer over the years.
He was now upset with me for "causing" him to get upset over something that happened a long time ago that he thought he was over. We tapped on his anger and brought it down to zero. His demeanor softened and he said softly, "She must have had some serious personal problems to have treated me that way. I wonder what became of her?" (For you therapists, that was a cognitive shift without doing cognitive therapy.)
I asked him to tune into the current issue with his wife and he no longer had any distress thinking about it. I asked if he thought it was possible that the unresolved anger from those many years ago could have affected his current relationship and he began to cry. He said he had wasted years of relationships, been married and divorced, and even now was "screwing up" a good relationship. We tapped on those wasted years and his feelings of guilt. He left that session feeling like a new man. He later reported that his relationship with his wife was wonderful, better than he could have imagined.
You may have some unresolved emotional baggage from a heartbreak in the past.
What to do about heartbreak.
Spend a few minutes recalling the details of that heartbreak and apply EFT. There are several ways to proceed.
1) Tell the Story: Repeatedly run through the story while continually tapping the acupuncture points. Start at the top of the head and tap each point in turn up and down. Let the story develop and change as different aspects come to mind. Note how your feelings change. Continue tapping up and down while you run through your story until there is no more emotional charge on it.
2) Standard EFT shortcut: Label the problem. For example, "she dumped me." Do an EFT shortcut round.
"Even though she dumped me, I deeply and completely accept myself," with the reminder phrase, "she dumped me."
As you tap that one to zero, other aspects of the problem will likely come to mind. For example, "that was so unfair!" "Even though that was so unfair, I deeply and completely accept myself."
Other aspects that might be revealed:
"I was so hurt."
"I was so humilated."
"I just wanted to crawl in a hole and disappear."
"I hope she got what she deserved for treating me that way."
"I was so angry."
3) As usual, if you get stuck, you might need professional help. After all, dentists don't pull their own teeth. Call me and I'll give you a referral or you can work with me via phone.
Until next time, keep on tapping.
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Jack Eason Rowe, Ph.D.
Author: EFT and Golf: The New Mental Game Manual
and Energy Psychology and the Yips Cure and Prevention