By Steve Wells
Anxiety is an emotion which everyone experiences from time to time, characterized by unpleasant bodily feelings and often associated with worry about future events.
When you are experiencing anxiety, your body reacts as if it is responding to a threat, even though there may be no actual threat present, and your primitive alarm system is activated, stimulating your fight-flight reflex.
Bodily feelings and reactions to anxiety can range from unpleasant “butterflies” and tightness in the stomach, through to dizziness, nausea, and/or full-blown panic.
Fortunately, SET can often get excellent results with most anxiety-based problems. Read on to find out how.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety may be the result of past negative or traumatic experiences where we learned to link a threat to certain situations. For example, being humiliated when reading out loud to class when you were a child can lead you to feel anxious about presenting in public as an adult. Or if you experienced a life-threatening trauma such as a car crash you might feel anxious every time you approach a busy intersection.
We can also create anxiety by projecting future misfortunes in our mind. One of the challenges of having a mind which is capable of imagining the future is often our mind throws up images which are not even likely to happen but we get to experience them as if they are real and as if they are happening to us right now.
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain
Your mind can’t actually tell the difference between something you vividly imagine and something that is happening right now. So if you are about to perform and your mind comes up with an image of you falling flat on your face and failing miserably, then you get to feel some of the feelings you would feel if that was actually happening to you here and now.
The information provided here will be most useful for managing the more common forms of anxiety which most people experience. Whilst this will also likely be very helpful to people suffering from more complex anxiety conditions, if your anxiety is severe or complex you may need to also work with a skilled therapist for best results.
How to Treat Anxiety Using SET
First, learn the basics of SET: Start with our free special report and videos
Tap for First Aid
Whenever you feel anxious, start tapping as soon as possible as a means of immediate first aid. Don’t worry too much about what to say or think, just get some tapping happening. As you tap, focus on whatever you are aware of, whether thoughts or feelings, that represents the anxiety for you. You can focus on the situation you are in, or what you are thinking about, or what you worry might happen.
If you are aware of your body sensations of anxiety, focus your attention on those body feelings as you tap, and simply notice what happens.
As you tap the anxiety feelings should soon start to shift. If the feeling changes in location or nature, and even if it starts to intensify (which is a shift), keep tapping. Then focus on the new feeling and/or location and continue tapping. If thoughts or memories come to mind, simply observe them and keep tapping, allowing and accepting whatever arises. Keep tapping until you experience relief.
If you are out in public when you experience anxiety, use fingertip tapping. This is a very discreet way of tapping. To do it, tap continuously on the fingertip points of one hand using the thumb of that same hand. Just bring your thumb down lightly to tap on the side of each finger in turn, tapping for a few seconds on each finger-point before moving on to the next. You can also lightly rub or just touch the points if you prefer, as this is even less obtrusive.
This process is portable and can be taken almost anywhere. For example, you could be in a meeting at work and be lightly tapping on the finger points under the table. Nobody would notice and you would be calming your anxiety right where you need it.
Tap on the Triggers for Your Anxiety
If you can, set aside some time to do some more specific focused work on the triggers of your anxiety. Identify the events, situations, people, or things that trigger your anxiety, imagine yourself in those situations then tap for the anxiety which is triggered.
Start by making a list of all the different situations and things which normally cause you to feel anxious, then apply SET in turn to each of them. For each situation, identify all the different parts of it which can cause anxiety and keep tapping until you can think about every aspect of that situation without any anxiety.
If you then go into a situation where your anxiety might normally be triggered, tap as you go. You should find that you don't experience your usual anxiety. If you do experience anxiety, try to pay attention to what specific aspect(s) of the situation are making you anxious so you can include them in future focused tapping sessions at home.
Tap on Past Events Where You Learned to Feel Anxious
Identify specific past events and experiences where you learned to link anxiety to certain elements of your life. When you think about your anxiety and where it is triggered, ask yourself these questions:
- Where did I learn to associate anxiety to this?
- Who taught me to be anxious about this?
- Where have I felt these feelings before?
Review those past events and apply tapping to them by going through the story of what happened in your mind. If you visualize easily you can make this into a short movie and freeze-frame at intense parts then apply lots of tapping to reduce the intensity. If you don’t visualize, simply go through the story in your mind and do a lot of tapping on the intense feelings and thoughts until the intensity reduces.
If, as you do this process, you become aware of other related events, use the same simple process of working through the story, tapping as you do, spending more time tapping on the most intense parts until the feeling reduces. Apply this to all the past events you can identify that relate to your anxiety.
Graft the Tapping to your Problem
This is a simple practice which can have hugely beneficial results. It involves simply grafting the tapping onto the situations where your anxiety normally occurs, without trying to change anything. Simply add the tapping into every situation and experience where your anxiety occurs and then do whatever you would normally do in that situation.
Dr. David Lake learnt the power of tapping this way with a severe sufferer of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who usually took two hours to leave the house due to constantly having to check that doors were locked, oven was off, and so on. He asked her to simply add the fingertip tapping to her usual checking routine. Progressively over just a few weeks she was able to reduce her checking time down to a more normal 15 minutes and significantly reduce her anxiety.
Combined with the daily tapping for energy toning (see below), grafting your tapping to when and where your problem occurs can be a powerful strategy to bring anxiety under control.
Tapping Daily for Energy Toning
A practice we recommend to virtually all our clients and workshop participants who experience anxiety problems is to tap daily for “Energy Toning”. Particularly if you have a more severe anxiety condition it can help to try to get your daily tapping routine up to as much as an hour of tapping per day and continue this for up to two weeks, or even longer.
This tapping can be done both when you are feeling anxious and when you are not feeling anxious and does not always require that you focus on your problem in a specific way. Just tap on the points throughout the day, 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, and add the tapping to routines. Watching TV is a great time. This ongoing tapping process seems to tune and tone your energy system, settle down your nervous system reactivity, and switch off your primitive alarm system.
Within just a few days you should start to notice some improvements in your general anxiety levels.
If you persist in tapping daily for two weeks and you don't see any beneficial results on your condition we strongly suggest you seek professional assistance.
I hope you find these guidelines useful for yourself and anyone you help who suffers from anxiety. And if you want to go into more depth, come along to a workshop and learn these powerful techniques - and gain relief - first-hand.
Your Anxiety Detox Plan
Mindfulness is another approach which can have excellent results with anxiety. My friend Rachel Green is an expert on mindfulness and meditation, which she was personally able to use to cure herself of panic attacks. We're combining our skills to present a workshop in Perth in March 2014 combining these two powerful techniques for anxiety relief: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Simple Energy Techniques (SET). We'll show you how to apply them easily in your daily working life. There will also be plenty of extra tips for managing anxiety using simple mind-body techniques. We'll also run this workshop for your group or your business, by request. Here's where to go for more information: