Jen: [00:00:00] You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women Podcast. I'm Dr. Jen Riday, and on this episode, we're talking about grief and how to use EFT tapping to help you release that pain. Stay tuned.
Intro: [00:00:14] Are you ready to expand your soul's capacity for joy? Then this podcast is for you. I'm Dr. Jen Riday and welcome to Vibrant Happy Women.
Jen: [00:00:26] Hey, my friends. Welcome back to the podcast. I'm Jen Riday and I'm so happy you're here. And I want to take a moment to just tell you you are doing an amazing job. Life is not easy. Emotions can be challenging. The stress, the overwhelm, the lack of motivation at times. Sometimes the lack of productivity. Feeling like you used to be so sparkly and productive. And now, “What's happened to me?” Well, you're not alone. This is life. And I want to commend you for all the ways you keep going, all the ways you try to share love and make the world a bit better. I love that about you. Well, today's guest, Heather Ambler, has been on the show before and she teaches EFT. Tapping. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. And it's a strategy that helps your brain release the pain around certain thoughts or beliefs. It has some overlap with EMDR. And I talk about that a little bit more in the episode. It works. Now, a lot of people are skeptical about it, but now there is so much science backing up EFT tapping that it works that it's becoming a very, very commonly used modality in therapy and in coaching. So we're going to be talking about using EFT tapping to help you with grief. And I want you to think about, as you listen, the areas you feel pain in life. Grief can impact you in a family situation where a child is diagnosed with a physical or mental illness, where you might lose your health or you experience a divorce. Grief can happen when you move, when you lose something, when you're violated, when – I had a friend who left her garage open for a moment to unpack her groceries, went to the bathroom, came back, and her purse was gone. She felt so violated. And she took quite a few weeks to grieve that. So grief is a real thing. I feel like it's a bit of a gap between what we think should happen in our lives and what is happening. All the pain that we suffer, all the trials that we experience seem to happen in the gap between what we think should happen and what is happening. “My spouse should live longer than this.” “My spouse should not die of prostate cancer.” “I should not have lost both of my parents during the pandemic.” Or “I should not have a child who's struggling with this thing.” That gap is where we experience so much of the pain, and EFT is just one of many strategies that can help us bridge that gap by kind of releasing the pain that comes when we think things should be a certain way. So without further ado, I want you to think about grief and loss and the “shoulds,” what you think “should” be happening in your life, how it matches up with your reality and what you might be grieving, even if it's not the death or loss of a loved one. This episode applies to all forms of loss and grief and, you know, events where things are not happening how we think they should. So let's dive in.
Jen: [00:03:42] Hey there, everyone. I am here with my friend Heather Ambler, and we're going to be talking about grief and using Emotional Freedom Technique to handle that grief. Heather also has a really cool change she's made in the past couple of years. She's living in the high, high mountains of Tahoe and I'm super excited to talk to you. Heather, welcome to the show.
Heather: [00:04:03] Thanks so much, Jen. It's really great to be back with you.
Jen: [00:04:07] So, as you mentioned, you were on a couple of years ago and then you reached out and said,
Yeah, I would love to get in touch again.” So lots has happened since the last time we spoke. And I'm curious to start out, what made you move high into the mountains? You're at 6800ft or so, right?
Heather: [00:04:25] Yeah, a little over 6800ft. And, you know, I live in the mountains of California in a place called Tahoe, like you mentioned. And I've been coming to Tahoe my whole life since I was a small child. And it's a really magical, beautiful place. I took my daughter here on vacation when she was about 16. So this was eight years ago. And I just remember she was in high school, of course. And I just remember thinking when we were here, you know, when she finishes high school, she finishes college, and I'm wanting to move out of the San Francisco Bay area, which is where I'm from. And I love, love, love it there, but it's really expensive. And I was feeling like I was ready for a change. I thought, you know, maybe Tahoe will be the place where I go when she finishes college. So she graduated from college in 2020. It was the height of the pandemic and, you know, there was a lot going on, needless to say. But, eventually, I made my way up here and I moved here in November of 2021. And I absolutely love it here. I don't know how to describe it. It just feels really like it's my place.
Jen: [00:05:45] That's great. Well, so we're talking today about grief and I love the idea of hearing how you can use Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to handle grief. So I guess to start out, just tell us in your estimation, what grief is, what's really happening in the brain and in the body, and then we can learn how EFT would help us.
Heather: [00:06:09] Okay. So in my experience personally and professionally, of course, grief is about loss. Grief is about the process of really adapting to a significant loss. And so for the purposes of this discussion, I'll keep it focused on losing a loved one. But of course we can lose all kinds of things that we grieve, you know, like a home or a job or a belonging that is important to us or whatever the case may be. So when we lose a loved one, um, to put it really plainly, it hurts, right? It hurts because we're never going to see that person again because they're such an important part of our life, because we may have unfinished business with that person. That's not the case for everyone. But when that is the case, that goes into the realm of complicated grief. That's a whole other subject, right? So really, it just hurts. And there's so many different aspects of grief. And that's really my job. When people come to me to heal their grief, my job is to help them navigate that landscape of grief. Right? Because all they know really is that they're hurting, but they don't know what all the many different aspects are, let alone really how to heal them. And some people come to me, they know how to do EFT tapping, and some people have done it quite a lot. But the process of unpacking a loss is it's complex, right? So I tend to use a lot of metaphors and switch metaphors rapidly and mixed metaphors.
Heather: [00:07:49] So hopefully it won't be confusing for you or anyone else listening. But I think of it like this: So let's imagine there is a suitcase, right? This is kind of a cliche, but it's a cliche for a reason. So let's think of a person's grief as being like everyone has a suitcase of grief. If you've lost a loved one, there's a suitcase of grief and some people's suitcase is pretty small. And, you know, of course, there's pain, but it's not like there's not a ton of different things in that suitcase. There's sadness and missing that person, and sometimes really, that's it. You know, for example, if someone's mother has passed away in their 90s, of course that doesn't diminish the loss, but it can diminish the impact of the loss because she lived a full life. And if the person who lost their mother had a relatively good, uncomplicated relationship with their mother, then the grief process is going to be relatively uncomplicated. Right? So I work with my clients to really unpack that suitcase of grief and all the different aspects of it. And I know everything to look for, and how to find it because sometimes it's buried under, you know, another thing or it's been tucked away in some little pocket and the person doesn't know that it's there. They know that they're still hurting, but they don't exactly know why.
Heather: [00:09:20] Like once we've healed the kind of more surface-level stuff of the loss, but they're still hurting, oftentimes they won't know why. And I know what to look for because this is what I do all day, every day for 14 years. And so in order to unpack that suitcase with them, I'm looking for very specific things, right? And so I work with them to say, you know, if you could speak to the person who you lost, what would you say? That's one way to find a so-called hidden aspect of grief. And oftentimes there's like a whole big wound under there, Right? Or part of the grief wound. And then we use what they would say as a tapping statement, tapping through the points while saying this. And then another thing that I'll look for after we do that, I'll say, “Well, if you could talk to your loved one who passed away, what would you need to hear them say to you?” And that almost always reveals a whole other aspect of the grief which we can then heal by using that, I have them imagine that the person is saying it to them, or they'll say, “I need to hear my father. Tell me that he's okay wherever he lives or is.” Or, “I need him to say that he loves me or that he's proud of me, or that I did everything I could for him. That he forgives me.”
Heather: [00:10:53] Whatever the case may be. You know, there's a lot of possibilities here. And then we tap it out. You know, I'll say, “When you say that I need to hear my father say that he loves me and is proud of me, what's the emotional charge on that?” And they'll rate it from 0 to 10 and they might say like an eight. It hurts a lot even though it's a positive thing, because they're not really going to hear him say that to them. That's an aspect of their grief, of their loss that needs to be healed. And then we tap it out. So I'm just looking for the different aspects of grief with them in this process. And as we find them, we tap them out until that eight or that five on the intensity scale from 0 to 10 is a zero. You know, we don't go for two. Two seems like nothing, on a scale of ten. “Oh, it's gone. It's totally healed.” And two feels so completely different in the body and mind than an eight or a ten that people assume that it must be all the way healed. But it's not. It's still 20% unhealed, right? Yeah. So we heal everything to zero and don't stop until that suitcase is empty.
Jen: [00:12:04] Oh, nice. So when you say “tap it out” for those unfamiliar with EFT, what does that mean?
Heather: [00:12:12] So tapping it out means tapping on the different tapping points while focusing on that particular issue or aspect of the issue. And we do that with these tapping statements. You know, like, “My father passed away. I'm really sad because my father passed away.” Or, “I needed to hear my father tell me that he loves me and he's proud of me.” So you tap it out. What that means is you say that statement while tapping on the points until that eight of pain is a zero, which is no pain at all. So that's essentially what it means.
Jen: [00:12:49] So the tapping, how does it help you rewire the brain so it's less painful? What's Really happening energetically and physically?
Heather: [00:12:59] A really good question, Jen. I don't really know and I don't really follow the research very much because I know that it works and I'm just very results oriented with my clients. And so I'll just tell you what my best understanding is of it now. Okay. I do think it's rewiring the brain. So when you're focusing on an aspect of your grief, like, “I need to hear my father say he loves me and he's proud of me,” that's like a – and I'm not a scientist and this could be totally wrong, so please take what I'm saying with a grain of salt – but my understanding is that, you know, that aspect of grief, “I need to hear my father say that he loves me and he's proud of me,” that's a neural pathway in the brain. And it's painful. And when we tap it out…I'm at a loss here. I feel like I'm not doing it justice because it's not like we're going to erase that thought. You know, the thought is still going to be there. The desire might still be there, but it won't be a painful desire anymore. But it's like I call it removing the pain from a painful memory or removing the pain from a painful thought. So there's something about when you tap on a statement like that, it just heals it, right? So if it's a painful memory, for example, yeah, the memory is still going to be there, but it's not going to hurt anymore. It's like the connection of the memory to the pain that it's causing you in your body, in your mind, is cut. And then metaphorically, the way that I like to think about it, which I think is a little easier to imagine, is like, I think of it as like a painful experience. Like a loss in this case is like a tire track in the road. And when we tap, we erase that tire track, that imprint, right? So we get imprinted with these painful experiences and tapping erases those imprints.
Jen: [00:14:59] That's cool. Yeah, that's my experience as well. I've used tapping for limiting beliefs about my family or my spouse, limiting beliefs about finances and health. I find it does remove the emotional charge. And also there's another modality that I find similar called EMDR, where physiologically you're moving your eyes or you're engaging in a cross-body movement. I feel like, you know, we don't understand everything, but science backs up that both EFT and EMDR work. Like, they really work more powerfully than a lot of talk therapies. And science didn't used to back EFT, but it really does now. So I think it's cool. There's a lot of research. Yeah, so pretty cool. One day we'll understand the brain fully.
Heather: [00:15:50] Right? Yeah. It's really like such an unexplored frontier. I mean, of course it's been explored a lot, but there's so, so much, you know, neuroscientists say that there's far more that we don't understand about the brain than what we do understand. It's like such a fledgling science, even though people have been studying it for such a long time. So it's exciting to imagine all of the possibilities when we do understand the brain more fully so that we can use it as a tool more effectively. And then also we can use our understanding of how it works for healing, for achieving goals and all of that. But in the meantime, we have EFT and it'll heal anything. It never ceases to amaze me, even after all these years.
Jen: [00:16:38] It's really cool. Yeah. So back to grief. We've kind of focused a little bit on the grief of losing a loved one. But there are so many other types of grief. Speak to some of those that you know EFT could help, other forms of grief.
Heather: [00:16:57] Yeah, yeah. It'll help it in the same way, you know. So if a person has lost their job or they have lost their health or they've become disabled, that's a lot, right? All of those things are huge. Even losing belongings, people say, “Oh, it's just stuff.” But for most of us, if we've lost something that was a big part of our life, like a sofa even, right? That can be a really big deal. Or you miss the home that you used to live in or, you know, your child goes off to college. Like that's a huge loss when your child goes off to college or they leave the home, you know, to get a job or whatever the case may be. It's a really big, big deal. And that's kind of a tricky one, right? So when our child, let's say, goes to college, like what a joyful thing. Right? They got into college. They're pursuing their dreams. They were able to successfully complete high school and there's so much for them to look forward to. So much for you to look forward to, too, in your relationship with them in this new phase of their life and all of this. And yet, they're not under your roof anymore. And, you know, for me as a mother, that was a really, really, really big deal.
Heather: [00:18:21] And I grieved that. It's called anticipatory grief. Um, I was grieving very actively for three, four years, pretty much the whole time my daughter was in high school. And what was amazing was that I had EFT and so I didn't wait for her to go off to college to start healing that right? I worked with the anticipatory grief. So when she did go to college, it was a lot. And that night when I left her on campus and went back to my hotel, you know, to spend the night and then drive home, you know, six hours to our home, you know, that was rough. There were tears. There were a lot of tears, but there was also a lot of tapping. And so I was able to heal it. So all parents, if they are fortunate enough for their children to make it that far in life, many parents don't have that privilege. There's a grief process, I think, and that will heal it. And for anything else too, like I said, like a job or a home or um, I don't know. Can you think of anything else that a person might grieve?
Jen: [00:19:30] Oh, in my experience, um, having children have a mental health diagnosis that makes you worry they won't get to have the life you envisioned for them or, um, friends who have divorced. That's a big, a big source of grief with failure and shame, you know, on top of it a lot of times.
Heather: [00:19:49] Totally. Yeah. Divorce is a huge thing for people to grieve. Yeah. And it tends to almost always be quite complex and often more complex than healing the loss of a loved one through death. Right. Because there's so many different components. Like you said, the shame, the feelings of failure when there are kids involved, then that adds many other layers of painful complexity. And EFT heals all of it. And the process is very similar, right? Like we have the grief suitcase, and then there's also a divorce suitcase. Right? And all the different things that one typically finds in the divorce suitcase. And then you just take them out one by one and tap them away until they don't hurt anymore, until it's totally healed. And then when we and, you know, it's totally healed, whether it's a divorce or a loved one who's passed away, you know, it's totally healed because when you think about it, it does not hurt anymore. And that healing is permanent. And if you think about the thing that you've been using EFT to heal, whether it's divorce or the death of a loved one and it still hurts, all that means is that you haven't finished healing yet, you know, and people say, “Well, you know, I tried EFT and you know, and I sort of felt better.” But then it still hurts.
Heather: [00:21:10] And I say, “Well, that's just because you stopped before you finished.” You know, it's like if you were going to walk to the corner store and you stop halfway there. And you're, you know, bummed because you're not at the store. It doesn't mean the store is not there. The store is still there. You just got to keep going. Right. And in this case, you got to keep unpacking that suitcase and then tapping until it's all the way healed, because that's another thing with feet. When something hurts a lot, it's an eight or a nine, or a ten on the intensity scale from 0 to 10. And we get it down to like A44 for some reason. Is this tipping point for every person, for every issue, every aspect of the issue, where it feels the difference between a five and a four is so huge because suddenly at four it's like, “Oh, it really doesn't hurt anymore.” It's almost like it doesn't even register in the body-mind, but it's still 40% unhealed. And so what happens is people feel, “oh my gosh, I feel so much better!” And then they stop. They stop tapping to heal it either if they're working with EFT on their own or they're working with a practitioner, they stop before they get to the store and then they think the store is not there.
Heather: [00:22:30] It is there. You've just got to keep going. You've just got to keep going. Yeah, because it'll heal it completely and permanently, which I think for many people it's really hard to wrap your mind around that, especially the loss of a loved one, because there's a myth, a very understandable, very old, millennia or millions of years old, like such an old myth that it's not possible to fully heal the pain of losing a loved one. You will always be in pain. And there's so many reasons for that myth. And I think the main one is that for most of human history, there has not been a way to completely heal the pain of losing a loved one. And so, of course, that's what we're going to believe, because that has been the experience of everyone, right? And then another myth that keeps people from healing all the way is that if you are no longer in pain about the person that you lost, it means you don't love them anymore. It means you're not honoring their memory. And I encounter this in almost all of my clients and I know to look for it, right. And it's almost always an inner block, actually, to their healing that we have to attend to. Otherwise we're not going to get all the way to the store, the store again and this metaphor being complete healing.
Heather: [00:23:54] And so we have to tap out these beliefs. You know, if I if I'm not sad about, you know, the loss of my mother or my spouse or my sister, it means I don't love them. It means I'm not honoring their memory. And you just use the tapping the exact same way you say the statement and you tap until it no longer in this case feels true. Right? So when we're healing something painful, we tap until the pain is gone. But when we're healing a belief and limiting and false belief, we tap until it no longer feels true. So in that case, instead of saying on a scale of 0 to 10, how much when you say that statement or think it or hear me say it, how much does it hurt? Instead with a belief, I'll say from 0 to 10, How true does it feel? Right? Not how true do you think it is? How true does it feel? Because a lot of the time we know that something's not true. Our conscious mind knows it's not true. But our emotional truth is the opposite, right? And so we tap until it no longer feels true. And then our conscious mind and our unconscious mind, which is also a synonym for our emotional truth, they come into alignment. And in that alignment is peace.
Jen: [00:25:13] Yes. We're all so…
Heather: [00:25:16] …powerful, right?
Jen: [00:25:17] Yeah. That's so cool. That's so cool. Yeah. So if people wanted to learn more about tapping from you – I know you have some videos out there showing what you do – where could they go?
Heather: [00:25:29] They can just go to my website HeatherAmbler.com. I have tons of resources there from articles and tapping scripts, to some videos that they can watch of me working with people in real time in group sessions that I do every couple of months or so. And so all the resources are there. HeatherAmbler.com And I also have a free PDF that is really helpful, which is a Grief Recovery Checklist. So people can go through the checklist and they can figure out where they are in their grief process and they can see very quickly what it is that still needs to be healed, what aspects of their grief still need to be healed, and it might be aspects of their grief that they didn't even know they had. Right. So they can find that at HeatherAmbler.com/griefchecklist. So they can download that checklist and get a really clear idea super fast of what it is that they need to work on with their healing so that they can be free from that pain and then all that they will have, you know, they'll still have the love for that person – that doesn't go anywhere ever. That's forever – but the pain will be gone.
Jen: [00:26:47] Goodbye, pain.
Heather: [00:26:48] Yeah, I think it's goodbye pain.
Jen: [00:26:49] Really cool. The work you do where you're assessing how we as a culture or maybe even as a world believe you should feel and think about death and how you should feel and think about loss and recognizing we can tap out those beliefs and those feelings and find that peace. There are tools that help. You just have to, I guess, invest in the container, the support, the help to learn the tools. And I love that you do that for people.
Heather: [00:27:20] Thanks, Jen.
Jen: [00:27:21] Well, this has been awesome. I will definitely have my best friend listen to this episode because, you know, the grief is there. She's redefining everything. And I think this could be really helpful for her. So thank you for being on the show today, Heather.
Heather: [00:27:36] You're so welcome. Jen. Thank you so much for having me. It's always great to talk with you.
Jen: [00:27:41] I hope you enjoyed that episode. I certainly did. I'm going to be revisiting some of the tapping strategies I use on my own. I'll give you a hint: for me, I like to have a journal. Usually I call it my tapping journal and I will just write down phrases that are causing me pain, like, “My kids should be doing better in life,” or whatever, and then I tap on them. Tap through the points. You can learn more about those points by checking out Heather's videos at HeatherAmbler.com of course. But then anytime a limiting belief comes up for you, a painful thought, write it in your tapping journal and then tap on it. It's like a little bit of cleaning of your psyche, of your brain, your thoughts, every day, cleaning it out, cleaning it out, cleaning it out. If you left your refrigerator full of filth for years, that would be a much worse situation than if you clean it out a little every week. We can do the same for our pain and for our grief. So try that out. Have a tapping journal. It works really well for me.
Jen: [00:28:44] All right, my friends, I love you. I'm so proud of you. Keep up the good work of healing and living as your happiest and most, most authentic self. I will see you again next time. Until then, make it a vibrant and happy week. Take care.
Outro: [00:28:59] If you enjoy this podcast, you'd love Vibrant Soul, the place to heal, transform and expand your soul with like-minded friends. Join us at JenRiday.com/vibrantsoul.