The purpose of this section is to explore theoretical concepts underlying the Battle Tap technique. It may help you better understand the process and possibly provide insight into your own situation.
At the time of birth, newborns have built-in reflexes but no “learned” behaviors. As the infant brain develops, behavior and thinking become rapidly dominated by two core principles: “avoidance of suffering” and the “desire for pleasure”. Recognizing how these two principles contribute to adult behavior is important in understanding the psychological response to danger and stress. The emotional responses that adults experience daily are closely connected to the subconscious mind.
A part of our mind is called the “subconscious mind” (meaning that its processes are not fully in our conscious awareness). The subconscious mind can be compared to a hardworking watchman who has been tasked to protect a young child from danger. The watchman observes which people, places, and things are dangerous for the child. He records these dangers into a notebook and whenever he notices a threat near the child, he instructs his assistant to warn the child. This “warning system” works well and after the child reaches adulthood, he joins the military. During his combat deployment the watchman follows the warrior and continues to record dangers into the notebook, i.e. “loud sounds”, “suspicious stairwells”, and “large crowds”. The watchman soon has a long list of dangers and after twelve stressful months, they are fortunate to return home unharmed. The warrior hopes for break from stress, but something unexpected happens: the watchman repeatedly sends out false alarms and prevents him from finding rest. The “loud sound” was actually a slamming door, the “suspicious stairwell” had no sniper, and the “large crowd” had no suicide-bomber. The watchman noticed his mistakes, but he was always too late to cancel the warning as his assistant had already left to deliver the message to the warrior. The recurrent false alarms were exhausting and the warrior hoped that they would end with time; however, they continued because the watchman does not realize that he should have erased war-related dangers from his notebook as they were no longer relevant. Fortunately, an old sage witnesses the situation and understood what had happened. Later that night he secretly erased the war-related dangers from the watchman’s notebook. This did the trick and the warrior soon found relief from the false alarms because the watchman no longer perceives sounds, stairwells, or large crowds as a threat – after all, they are no longer flagged “dangerous” in the watchman’s notebook. Eventually, they both transitioned successfully out of “combat mind” and return to pursuing their individual goals and dreams.
This metaphor illustrates how our subconscious mind (“watchman”) contributes to our emotional state depending on the content of our memories (“notebook”). The stress response (“message”) for a perceived threat travels so quickly that by the time we have a chance to evaluate a false alarm, we are already stressed and anxious. Living like this can be exhausting, but it is one of the most common symptoms of trauma-related memories. Various therapies (“old sage”) attempt to neutralize distressing memories so that we can feel more rapidly transition out of the combat mindset. BATTLE TAP teaches warriors how to change their "notebook" by using a combination of acupoint tapping, cognitive scripts, and re-exposure.
KEY LEARNING POINTS
- Life-experiences that are “neutral” are often rapidly forgotten because they form only transient memories without “emotional charging”.
Example: Many people cannot remember what they had for breakfast yesterday.
- Life-experiences that evoke strong emotions become long term “memories with emotional charging”.
Example: Most people will be able to effortlessly recall childhood moments when they felt angry, sad, guilty, anxious, fearful, happy, excited, or curious.
- Distressing emotionally-charged memories are known as “traumatic” memories that are either “unresolved” or “resolved”.
Example: A man has “unresolved” traumatic memories involving his father. He avoids family functions because he always feels angry when he sees his father. He eventually goes to therapy and works through these traumas. Today, he doesn’t want to spend time with his father, but the memories were successfully “resolved”, and he is able to enjoy family functions again even if his father is present.
- Memories that are “emotionally-charged” are re-experienced when they are remembered.
Example: A woman feels tearful whenever she thinks about the moment when she found out that she was pregnant.
- Traumatic memories can reappear intermittently.
Example: A man feels depressed on the weekends because the loneliness reminds him of the unexpected loss of his wife.
Example: A combat veteran feels anxious every New Year’s Eve when fireworks remind him of his deployment to war.
- Unresolved traumatic memories can “build up” over time and become synergistic.
Example: A student who experienced bullying in school for years finally “broke” and attempted suicide.
- Unresolved traumatic memories can negatively influence the rest of our lives.
Example: A veteran who was injured in combat many years ago still avoids leaving his home due to chronic anxiety.
- Unresolved traumatic memories influence our emotional response to environmental cues that remind us of that memory.
Example: A woman who was attacked in a parking lot feels fearful when entering any parking lot.
- The way we feel now is related to the balance of “good” memories and unresolved traumas.
Example: A man who was frequently abused during childhood never received treatment for his chronic depression. The unresolved sadness of his past did not disappear with time and instead continued to compete with his desire for happiness. He continued to feel depressed even when something good happened in his life. He eventually found what he was looking for, but only after he had resolved his traumas through therapy.
Example: A man with a happy childhood experiences an emotionally significant loss as an adult. He did not fully resolve this trauma, but he did not become chronically depressed because he had good family support and many positive memories from his past that gave him strength and resilience.
- Improving how we feel requires us to resolve traumatic memories.
Example: A woman with past trauma used to fear parking lots, but the fear disappeared after successful therapy and resolution of the traumatic memories.
- You have successfully resolved an emotionally-charged memory when you can speak and think about it without experiencing any emotional distress.
Example: A veteran used to avoid talking about his combat traumas, but after successful therapy, he can talk about it openly without distress.
LIFE CYCLE TAPPING
PERCEPTION AND SCHEMAS
Human development is a complex topic of biology, psychology, sociology, and many other fields of study. There are multiple theories but no single theory has fully captured this complex process. However, what is commonly agreed upon is that psychological development can be strongly influenced by life experiences. Some of us become optimists and others pessimists – both receive the same glass, but for one the glass is half “full” and for the other it’s half “empty”. Thus, our “perceptions” of reality can vary notably, even to the extent that we are misperceiving
instead of perceiving
. The key point is to recognize that all unresolved memories influence our perception by acting as subconscious beliefs that define our “personal myth or schema” – a subconscious story that influences our perception of reality. You may know people who say “everyone hates me”, “I’m not good enough”, or “don’t’ trust anyone”. These beliefs are examples of maladaptive schemas based on traumatic memories. If our schema is one of chronic danger and anxiety (as it is for many warriors), it is very difficult to find lasting peace and happiness. Thus, it becomes the mission of the distressed warrior to resolve past traumas, so that their life schema can improve, resulting in a more peaceful perception of the world around them.
TREE OF LIFE
The life of a tree is determined by the richness of its soil, the strength of its roots, and the forces of nature around it (i.e. wind, lightning, parasitic insects, or symbiotic plants). A tree with weak roots will lack foundation; poor soil leads to susceptibility to illness; and the forces of nature will reveal any deficiencies in these two factors. Metaphorical speaking, humans are similar: “soil” represents the variables beyond our control, such as genetics and nutrition that we receive from our parents; “roots” represent the essential childhood psychological milestones that give us stability and grounding; and “forces of nature” are the myriad of life events that all of us are bound to experience. If our genetics, nutrition, and early psychological development were suboptimal, there is a higher likelihood that we might “fall” when the winds of life become too strong.
If we desire happiness (and all of us do), it becomes important to optimize these three variables in adult life. Healthy foods and avoidance of toxins strengthen our body and mind. Wise choices in lifestyle and relationships minimize our exposure to accidents, dangers, and “parasitic” people. Finally, we need to do our best to resolve our early life traumas that make us vulnerable to life’s stresses; BATTLE TAP will assist you in doing this and potentially bring you closer to lasting happiness.
If you choose to review your life for unresolved memories that might be taking away from your happiness; you might be surprised to learn that usually hundreds of such memories are present. You can view each unresolved memory as an opportunity to improve your personal schema or remove “filters” that negatively interfere with your perception of life experiences. Become free from a lifetime of even mild traumas can significantly improve your life – you become “active” instead of “reactive”. For example, pessimists have a negative outlook on life. They were not born like that, but instead their “pessimism” is a learned behavior or a schema by which they subconsciously live by. It is very likely that frequent unresolved disappointing memories transformed them into “pessimists” instead of “realists”.