Alice Bradshaw London-based skype eft

Travel Anxiety: Finding the Pattern

by Alice Bradshaw
49 minutes
Travel Anxiety: Finding the Pattern

As you know, I am a big fan of self-help tapping! But I myself have regular sessions with an EFT practitioner and also regularly swap sessions with colleagues. There is always more to work on, more digging to do, and more personal growth to progress with.

One way that a practitioner’s help can be invaluable is to spot patterns in your experiences that you are unaware of. Our subconscious brains tend to run the same patterns over and over, which is not always helpful. Here’s an example from one of my clients, Amy. [1]

Amy has travel anxiety. She is particularly anxious about flying, and so chooses not to do that anymore. In a recent session with me, she was feeling panicky about driving with her husband to visit some family for a holiday. Thinking about the drive itself caused her to feel anxious, worrying about whether she would need to use the toilet while on the motorway (where you aren’t allowed to stop except for emergencies), and worrying about feeling carsick. She was also anxious about the preparation and packing, knowing that right up until the last minute she would be checking and re-checking her lists, worrying if she had packed everything they would need. This anxiety presented as a tight feeling all over her body, as though her clothes were tight and didn’t fit, even around her neck, as well as an increase in headaches.

As we dug down together through the layers of her memory, a consistent pattern emerged. At age 8, Amy had moved town and moved to a new school. At school they made fun of her different accent and made her feel ‘wrong’ for knowing different things – for example she was good at maths but couldn’t write joined up handwriting yet, whereas the children in the new school had learned joined up writing but were further behind in maths. She felt that she was not accepted. She dreaded going to school, and felt sick and a tightness all over her body. Her mum drove her to school every day. Already we can see a pattern emerging – feeling sick and tight, a feeling of anxiety, associated with driving somewhere.

Later on as an adult, Amy worked in a job where she had to fly to the US from her home in the UK at least once a week. Again, she felt the same - nauseous, headaches, tightness around her body. She hated the outward trip, but coming back home was fine. In the US she felt she wasn’t accepted, indeed she felt she was hated due to her corporate role. She felt they were thinking, “How can you possibly know anything about our company?” Here we see the same pattern repeating itself – going into a situation where she felt unaccepted, the nausea, headaches and tight feeling, all associated with travel.

Finally, in another job it got to the point where even going into work at all would bring on the same symptoms of anxiety and headaches. She eventually had a breakdown and had to leave work permanently.

Does the pattern seem obvious to you? It certainly is clear when we spell it all out and isolate these incidents from the rest of a person’s life experiences so that we can trace one to the next. However, when you are facing problems in life right now, it can be very difficult to see clearly enough to disentangle the jumble of impressions from your past and pretty much impossible to have the objectivity to spot which ones are relevant to what is going on now. Through painstaking, careful and gentle work, a skilled practitioner can sort through the information provided by the client and see these patterns. Often, I notice that a client uses the exact same words to describe their feelings about two differente life events, which they are almost always unaware of until I point it out. Once a person has seen a pattern, it doesn’t have the same hold over them because it has been brought out into the light, into conscious awareness.

As for that car trip, was it a breeze for Amy? As travel anxiety is one part of a general pattern of anxiety for her, it is a work in progress. EFT founder Gary Craig presented the Tabletop Metaphor to explain how EFT tends to work.

The Tabletop Metaphor

When we have a global issue such as ‘anxiety’, or even a slightly more specific one such as ‘travel anxiety’, this is represented by the tabletop. A tabletop is held up by (usually!) four legs, and these represent the specific events that remain unresolved and therefore keep the tabletop in place. When we collapse one table leg, for example by thoroughly clearing and balancing a person’s reaction to a past trauma or event, the tabletop may still remain in place as it still has three legs holding it up. However, once we have done the work to collapse a few more of the table legs, the table top itself also falls down.

We can see from this metaphor that a single EFT session, or even a few sessions about a particular past event, may not be enough to solve a presenting issue. However, I hope you can also see the benefit of sticking with the tapping, as we very often do not need to deal with all of the legs in order for the issue to resolve itself! In Amy’s case, once she has dealt with a few more specific events in her past during her EFT sessions, I am confident that she will feel less and less anxiety in different areas of her life.

Are you aware of any patterns or groups of table legs in your past or present life? Are you curious to explore more deeply in a supportive therapeutic relationship? Drop me a line to arrange a free 20 minute chat to discuss how I could help you.

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[1] I’ve changed my client's name and she has given me permission to tell part of her story as a help to others.