In the last 20 years we’ve developed the
tools like biofeedback monitors to see what’s happening to your nervous system when you
do this. And then in the last ten years with human genome project we’ve developed the
ability to look into the genes that have been turned on and turned off and see something
with your genes. So for example, the genes that are responsible for the blueprints for
building stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline shut down. Your breathing, you’re
relaxed. Our tongues on the floor of your mouth. You’ll find if you’re ever angry,
if you’re ever mad at somebody let your tongue be on the floor of your mouth. It’s
impossible to stay mad. Try staying mad at somebody with your tongue relaxed. (Laugh)
You can’t do it. So it’s just a simple mechanical thing. If just do that it tells
your body you’re safe, relaxed. And that’s the crucial thing about EFT.
We carry traumas and griefs and stresses with us all through our lives. They start getting
laid down very early. I get asked often, What causes a big emotional trauma? or What
are the roots of things like post-traumatic stress disorder? and What happened in
a person’s childhood? Well often it’ll be something horrendous in the person’s
childhood. It could be being abused by a parent or by a relative. It could be terrible feelings
of separation or abandonment. But sometimes, for example, one guy that we worked with it
turned out his trauma, one trauma from his childhood was that when his father was putting
him in his crib one day when he was about six months old. His father put him in his
crib and misjudged the distance and dropped him a few inches. And this became a major
life trauma for this person 50 years later. And who’d have thought that something that
would seem so small can so traumatize us. So sometimes it’s things that we think are
very, very small. Other times, why for example we know that
we have troops coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq with PTSD. And it’s a terrible
problem. That it’s intriguing that about two-thirds of them come back from combat without
PTSD. So why do those two-thirds not have PTSD? Why are those two-thirds so resilient
but one-third can develop PTSD later on? We wonder what triggers those traumas.
So EFT and relaxation and heart breathing and all these things just tell your body you’re
safe. And what we’ll be doing throughout the course of these two days is telling ourselves
over and over and over again in various ways we’re safe. Not telling ourselves with our
minds, because if I walk up to you and you feel uncomfortable and I say, Don’t worry.
Well maybe you’ll buy it. But often just the verbal part of our communication is not
that effective because the part of us that gets traumatized is not the verbal part. It’s
the pre-verbal parts of our brains. It’s our midbrains and it’s our hindbrains. You’ll
hear me talk over and over and over again about these three parts of the brain. The
Triune Brain Theory. And one humorous way of looking at this, so
one way to remember it, is that these brains were developed over the course of millions
of years of evolution gradually. So the brainstem and the back of the brain, the hindbrain,
is our reptilian brain. Dinosaurs had those brains. Snakes and lizards today have those
brains. Crocodiles have those brains. So think of this as your inner crocodile. You’ve
got this crocodile in the back there. It ends about here and then goes down. And it is fabulously
good at one thing and that’s survival. It is so good at survival. It makes sure if you’re
thirsty you drink. It makes sure when you’re hungry you eat. It makes sure that when you
need sleep you get sleep. It takes care of you. When there’s danger it gets you out
of the way or it jumps up and defends you. Really, really good. And this part of your
brain is roughly 3.4 billion years old. Very, very old part of your brain. So that’s your
inner crocodile back there. Okay? And the drawback is, you can say in a crocodile,
Calm down. There’s no real problem here. And it doesn’t hear you because it has no
language. It’s not wired for language at all. It’s superbly good at scanning the
environment, about four million times per second. It’s getting about four million
bits of data per second. It’s scanning the environment for threats and it’s ready to
act on any threat to your survival. So that’s the old part of the brain.
Then on top of that we have this midbrain, the middle part of our brain. And that is
something that came into being with mammals. And then on top of that layer is our big frontal
lobes, which is the thinking part of, the cognitive part of your brain. So for example,
your dog and your cat have a midbrain. They have those midbrain structures and a little
bit of forebrain as well. And your midbrain has to do with things like feelings. If you
look into the eye of a snake you don’t see a warm, fuzzy, (laugh) relational being there.
Just this reptilian eye glaring at you. But I you look in the eye of a dog or a horse,
you know there’s really something there you can relate to emotionally. You don’t
tend to have a deep emotional relationship with a lizard. (Laugh) But you can have one
with a dog or a cat or creatures that have that midbrain structure. So it has to do with
relationship, it has to do with emotion. And the trouble with trauma is that when we
get emotions encoded, like if you abuse or beat a dog repeatedly then those emotions
get or trauma get encoded in the dogs midbrain. And then all that survival stuff in the crocodile
brain gets activated by bad emotional experiences. And that happened to most of us growing up.
Again the dog doesn’t have language. There’s a cartoon I saw once of this man saying to
his dog, Rover, you were a bad dog. You should not have eaten my shoe. Rover, don’t
eat shoes again. You’re not allowed to eat shoes. And Rover’s sitting looking up
at his master, wagging his tail, and then you see what Rover is hearing. And Rover’s
hearing, Blah, blah, blah, blah. Rover. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Rover. Blah.
(Laugh) So if you try and convince a traumatized midbrain that you’re okay, again, no language
there. The language part of your brain is only 100,000
years old. It’s very, it’s a very, very recent evolutionary development. It wasn’t
there with the dinosaurs. It only popped up around the Great Lakes of Africa about 100,000
years ago. And the story of why it popped up there and what happened there is very interesting.
I won’t tell it today. But suddenly there was this massive explosion of brain growth
100,000 years ago with early hominids learning to walk upright, learning to use tools, developing
language, developing symbolic abilities, developing art. This enormous shift in evolution occurred
very, very recently. If you took a clock and began with the creation of the earth and you
took that whole cycle evolution and reduced it just to say twelve hours. Okay. Then the
dinosaurs start only around here and die out around there. And we human beings start at
something like, and if midnight is now, we started something like 11:58. That’s where
we start on the evolutionary spiral. We’re very, very novel and recently evolved species.
And so we have this overlay of these cognitive parts of ourselves.
So here we feel emotional trauma. We’ve had experiences as children that have hurt
us and become encoded as trauma in our midbrain and hindbrain. What we don’t have is the
ability to talk to those parts and tell them they’re safe verbally because the safe message
only has been into your forebrain, to your cognitive abilities not to those back ones.
But what does have meaning to them, what has meaning to that traumatized midbrain and hindbrain
is touch. If you say, Rover. Calm down. And stroke Rover, Rover gets the message that
he’s safe and there’s no threat. If your cat has been traumatized by a dog you stroke
the cat. Then the cat can calm down and quickly get out of its traumatized state.
So what EFT is and what letting your tongue settle on the floor of your mouth is and what
belly breathing is, is just physiological ways of telling your body you’re safe. And
so with the tapping we use with EFT, we have people tap in various acupuncture points on
their bodies, this tapping just says to your body, Oh. There’s no real threat. There’s
no real trauma going on here. You don’t have to worry.
And when reports began coming into me about three or four years ago of coaches and therapists
working with veterans coming back from Iraq and they would say, Dawson, you won’t
believe this but I had this veteran show up in my office with high levels of PTSD. Flashbacks,
nightmares, all kinds of physical problems. I did EFT with them. We did a few hours of
EFT and they were fine. They were testing negative for PTSD on these PTSD screens.
I’m thinking, Wow. Could that really be true? But I just got many of these reports
from various people. So I began a research project to see if this really was true and
it really is true. That if, that the best of attempts to convince these people who are
traumatized that they’re safe with the forebrain and telling them they’re safe don’t work
too well. But if you actually just introduce a little bit of physical stimulation, telling
Rover you’re safe, telling your midbrain you’re safe while you recall a trauma suddenly
the whole body calms down. And this conditioned response loop of remembering a trauma, remembering
your childhood trauma, remembering a combat trauma, and going into that tense state you
break that cycle, you break that conditioned response one time and it stays broken. And
it’s quite remarkable. That people can then be talking about the same incident that so
traumatized them and triggered them earlier, now they talk about the same incident and
it’s like, Okay. It happened and I have perspective on it. I don’t have the same
sense of emotional arousal when I think about that trauma.
So that’s how these very simple mechanical interventions work. They combine the best
of our cognitive therapies, the best of our exposure therapies, and then add this element
of stimulating these acupressure points and that’s what really helps us stay calm at
all levels. And we’ll do tons and tons of EFT, tapping, over the course of the next
couple of days as we experience this ourselves and use it on some of our own issues. And
you will be amazed that things that have bothered you sometimes for years will just lose their
emotional impact. It’s quite startling to see how fast that can happen.