Have you heard about EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and tapping? Tapping has been used for years to alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, trauma (even PTSD), and pain. And, contrary to my initial thoughts on it — I was under the impression that there wasn’t much science to support it — there actually have been a number of studies published in the last 5 years showing that it does actually work, and quite powerfully at that. It is an easy technique which can be done anywhere at anytime, and you can learn how to do it for free. In recent years more and more research has been conducted showing that you can use tapping for anxiety and stress.
This week, I am talking to Nick Ortner, CEO, and founder of the Tapping Solution. He has spent the last 15 years teaching EFT and helping people all over the world to overcome pain, stress, depression, trauma, and anxiety. In this podcast, he will uncover how tapping works to eliminate anxiety, stress, and pain as these are all major causes of fatigue and low energy.
In this podcast, you’ll learn
- What tapping is (for those of you who are not already familiar with it) and how it has changed countless lives
- How tapping works to alleviate pain
- What therapy that is complemented by therapy
- How tapping for anxiety, stress, and depression works
- How tapping can change the lives of people suffering from PTSD
- What hormone has been shown to drop drastically after a tapping session
- The free bonus you get for listening in (and how to learn to do it for free)
Your Bonus Gift From Nick — How To Learn Tapping for Free
Download or listen to the podcast on iTunes
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How To Use Tapping for Anxiety And Stress – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to The Energy Blueprint Podcast. This is your host Ari Whitten, and today I am joined by Nick Ortner who is the CEO and founder of The Tapping Solution and a New York Times bestselling author. This is a really interesting topic and kind of a funny story behind how this podcast happened.
I was approached by some people I worked with kind of wanting to make this introduction and I immediately kind of brushed off this whole tapping and EFT stuff and I was like, “Oh, there’s no science on that.” I looked at that probably 7 or 10 years ago. There wasn’t much research there. The research that was there was really unimpressive.
Nick actually reached out to me in response and basically was like, “Here are the studies that have been published in the last seven years or so.” I actually looked through them and I was like, “Wow. There’s some impressive stuff here.” I actually changed my tune and I was like, “Hmm. This actually does have strong science to support it.” With that said, that’s kind of the background, kind of an interesting, fun background to this.
Welcome, Nick, and thank you for educating me on this topic.
Nick Ortner: Thank you for having me and I’m glad that the science is coming in. As we were saying before the podcast, it’s one thing for people to have experienced this and to me, that’s the important thing that someone can try this at home and say, “It worked for me or it didn’t.” Right? That’s what’s great about it. Especially when we’re talking about this getting out in a bigger way and we’re doing a lot of work now with VA hospitals and schools and more of the institutions of society that need this information, the science and research makes a huge difference because they want to know like prove it to me that it works.
What tapping and emotional freedom technique (EFT) is
Ari Whitten: For sure. Yeah. I’m the same way. I protect all the listeners of this podcast, everybody that’s in my audience. I want to make sure that I vet everything that I talk about and make sure that there’s sound science behind this.
I don’t want to be promoting any sort of nonsense and have misled people or have people wasting money on stuff that isn’t real.
With that in mind, let’s go real basic here. What the heck is tapping and emotional freedom technique? Do you prefer tapping over emotional freedom technique?
Nick Ortner: It’s funny. It’s like we go and back forth in what we call it, right? Because the reason we use the word tapping, the way I describe it is tapping is sort of the equivalent to the word meditation. That’s the umbrella term and then there are all different forms of it. When you have meditation, you have this and that and all these different meditations.
Tapping is the umbrella for that practice. Emotional freedom technique is the specific kind of tapping that I learned and that I use even though I’m always changing things and sort of coming up with my own thing. Maybe that’s changing too.
Tapping, we call it tapping, and that’s why it’s a great descriptive term because we are literally physically tapping on endpoints of meridians of our body. What the latest research has shown specifically is that when we tap on these end points of meridians, we send a calming signal to the amygdala in the brain.
A lot of people know the amygdala as that fight or flight or freeze response center. When you’re stressed out when somebody sends you an email, your boss sends you an email and you’re not happy with what it says or you have a challenge in a relationship or your anxious about something that’s upcoming, your amygdala is firing. Right?
You have that pattern and that’s what that feeling of stress is. We all know that feeling of stress. What the tapping does is it calms that amygdala especially when we do it while acknowledging that feeling. Hey, I’m anxious right now. I’m angry. I’m scared. I’m overwhelmed. We send that calming signal to the amygdala and the body, the brain, everything relaxes. That’s the basic process. It’s like bring up what’s bothering you. You go through the tapping process and then find relief.
How fear can be anchored in the body
Ari Whitten: It’s not just this physical tapping aspect of it. The other aspect is to bring up what’s bothering you.
Nick Ortner: Yeah. I totally think like some people will do the tapping in the morning just to sort of awaken themselves up. It’s a relaxing process. I think the tapping by itself would almost be equivalent to yoga by itself. It’s like okay, you’re stressing. You’re doing something. You’re activating these meridians in your body. The real magic is when you come up and you say, “Hey, this is how I feel and I’m thinking about it and I’m acknowledging it and I’m doing the practice and doing the tapping and letting it go.”
For example, if someone has a fear of public speaking, what’s the fear of public speaking? It’s something that is running in the brain that says, “That scenario is dangerous.” Right?
If you put me on stage with 3,000 people, I’m on stage and I’m talking and I’m doing my thing. There are no butterflies in my stomach. Part of it is that I’ve done it a lot so it gets easier and easier, but from the beginning, it wasn’t a scary experience for me because no part of my brain had said speaking in front of other people is scary.
For many other people, they’ll have experiences like they’re in fifth grade and they get up to read in front of the class. They stumble on a word. Everybody laughs at them. In that moment, that little 10-year-old or 12-year-old or whatever age brain says, “This is dangerous.”
The things in our lives, the stress, the fear is they’re a series of “this is dangerous.” When the brain says, “Everyone laughed at me because I was in front of them,” it then says, “I’m never doing that again.” If I have to, here comes seventh grade and I got to give another book report and my fifth-grade brain said this is dangerous, three months before I have to give the book report, I’m already stress and anxious. That’s the crazy thing about these patterns that we have in our lives. They’re not just that immediate stress. It’s like I know many people listening think about … They stress about things in the future. It’s like okay, that book report’s coming up.
I’m bad at this. They’re going to laugh at me and I’m going to panic until that happens. I’m going to sweat through the whole thing and, this is the worse part of it, I’m probably going to do a pretty poor job of that book report because I’m going to have a dry mouth and I’m going to be stressed and anxious. I’m going to forget what I’m going to say and guess what’s going to happen? They’re going to laugh at me again because I just did a poor job on the book report. I’m going to say something silly. These experiences tend to build on themselves.
If you have a fear of public speaking, you’re going to keep building all these other experiences that keep on telling you, “This is not safe,” to the point where some people will be like, “No. I won’t speak in front of three people,” right, or I have social anxiety because again that same thing happened. It’s my belief that just about everything in our lives, every place where we look and we feel stuck whether it be in relationships or getting healthy and losing weight or improving your finances, the things that we want in our life, if we’re not there, it’s because we have these experiences, because we have this brain that has been conditioned step-by-step to keep us stuck.
What meridians are and how tapping was invented
Ari Whitten: Going from that to this tapping solution or this method of dealing with those blocks, I mean its kind of … For somebody unfamiliar with this, this might seem kind of a bizarre thing.
I’m tapping with my fingertips like on my face and on these different parts of the body. I’m supposed to be tapping on meridian points. What the hell are meridian points? I can’t see meridians. What are you having me do? Then I’m kind of saying these words as I’m doing this. Where did this whole thing actually come from? Who invented this and how did they come up with this?
Nick Ortner: It’s a great question. I love it. I think it’s weird every day and I’ve been doing it everyday for the last 10 years. Every time it works I’m astounded again and again. Like just yesterday my wife was stressed and overwhelmed. We have a two and a half-year-old. She didn’t sleep well. We didn’t sleep well. It can get busy. It can get crazy. I’ve learned. I’m a good husband. I don’t say to tap into everything. Right? That’s not going to be a winning equation to try to fix my wife at every moment.
Ari Whitten: I’m just picturing her getting angry at something and you being like about to say it and she’s like, “Don’t tell me that.”
Nick Ortner: Exactly. No. I’ve learned my lessons and I’ve learned with friends and family. People will find their way. She was overwhelmed and I was out in the office and we were texting and I said, “Hey, you know, just take five minutes and tap or meditate. Just very casually find a little space.” She told me later that she’s like, “You know, I’m sitting there and I’m just so overwhelmed and I’m angry that June didn’t sleep and all these things.” I’m like tapping’s not going to help this. Right? Because when you’re in that state, you’re in that emotional state, she did it anyway and five minutes later she was astounded.
She’s like, “All the negative thinking stopped. I felt so much better. I got my energy back.” It was a hugely positive result. When I heard about it I was like, “That’s amazing. It worked.” I’m still surprised. To answer your original question, right around 1980, Dr. Roger Callahan, who’s a traditional psychologist, was working with a client by the name of Mary. Mary had a water phobia. We were talking about public speaking before. That’s a phobia that’s intense. She had a fear of water. So intense where showers were scary, dripping water was scary. I mean this is like a full-blown clinical fear. Dr. Callahan had been doing what he knew to do as a psychologist, exposure therapy.
Hey, let’s look at the water and let’s talk. There’s a lot of talking. Right? That’s traditional psychology and there are some great parts about it. I think tapping takes it to the next level, which is why a lot of psychologists are using tapping now. It’s very verbal. Right? It’s like, “Okay. Let’s think through our problems. Let’s talk about mom for the next 10 years. See what we can do about it.” He’d been working with her for about a year and a half and he was frustrated. As a psychologist, it’s like, “Oh my gosh. Here she is and she still has this water phobia no matter what we do.” They were at his home office by his pool looking at the pool.
It’s like exposure therapy. There is water. Tell me what you feel. Do some deep breathing. What’s going on? She said, “You know, when I look at it, I have all these butterflies in my stomach.” He had been reading about that Chinese meridian system and that the stomach meridian was underneath the eye, so this major end point of this stomach meridian underneath the eye. Just on a whim, on inspiration, whatever it is, he said, “Hey, try tapping underneath the eye while you look at the water.” She did. She tapped for about a minute and the phobia cleared like that. I mean an instant she goes, “I’m no longer scared.” From that day on, it was gone.
It was just so again amazing. He proceeded to work on this system, what are the other endpoints of meridians, and he developed a system called TFT, which for different emotions and different challenges you would do different things. You might do this for anger and then this one for anxiety. One of his students, Gary Craig, who developed EFT, said, “You know what? This is hard to remember what points to what and it’s complicated. Let’s just hit all the main points every time. Let’s keep it as simple as possible, even though potentially one particular challenge might be unlocked in essence under the eye. Let’s hit all the points,” and that was EFT.
That’s what he developed and that’s what I learned 15 years ago now. Started using with friends and family, then made a film about it and off we went.
How tapping works to alleviate physiological discomfort
Ari Whitten: Very interesting story. Why does this actually work? What’s going on physiologically that translates into this alleviating psychological discomfort and traumas and things like that?
Nick Ortner: Yeah, great question. There are two components that we can see right now. One is that amygdala that I talked about before, that this tapping through pathways that we don’t understand right now, but I think we’re learning more about.
The Bonghan channels were discovered by this research Kim Bonghan that are these microscopic channels within the body that run along the meridian system. In essence showing hey, there’s these channels of communication that we don’t know are there. There’s the amygdala and then there’s the meridian system. I mentioned the stomach meridian underneath the eye.
Again the way I look at it from the research that I see, we are just getting started on understanding them. That’s okay I think. Right? We tend to think and every generation, every time and place does this, that we know everything. The knowledge that we have now is the knowledge we’re going to have. There’s the joke I’m sure you’ve heard in the patent offense in 1920 or something like that. The guy who ran it said, “There’s no way anything else would be discovered.” Right? The ridiculous thing.
Ari Whitten: Well, it’s not just a joke. I mean I think it’s …
Nick Ortner: It was real. Yeah. It was a real thing, but a joke about how ridiculous it is. Even though we hear that, we still think … Especially when it comes to the body, I wrote a book a couple years ago about tapping for pain relief. I opened the book with a story about reading a New York Times article about how researchers or doctors or whatever had just discovered new ligaments in the knee that they didn’t know was there.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I remember that.
Nick Ortner: It blew me away because I go, “Wait. Wait. What? What do you mean there was a ligament that we didn’t know? Haven’t we been cutting knees open? Haven’t we cut open a million knees and seen everything?”
Ari Whitten: Yeah, for like a few hundred years.
Nick Ortner: Right? I think we’re going to find, “Oh wow. There are these microscopic channels in our fingers that we didn’t know were there because we didn’t have the right data to measure them or to see them.” What’s great is that we’re working on the mechanisms. We have case stories and user stories in the thousands or millions. There’s that side of it. As you mentioned at the start, the research is coming in like okay, do we know exactly why anxiety is dropping by X percentage? No, but we’re seeing that it’s dropping massively.
Tapping has shown an hour session compared to placebo and cognitive behavioral therapy dramatically lowers cortisol in the body. Boom. Shown in saliva. There is it. Here’s the cortisol and now you did this and it drops, and as compared to CBT, which is talking. Right? The difference between you and I talking about our problems for an hour and you and I tapping and talking about our problems for an hour, a dramatic drop in cortisol. We’re seeing the effects. We’re seeing the user stories and the mechanism. I’m excited to see what we find out in the coming decades.
Ari Whitten: On the subject of how this research is conducted, I’m curious about a couple things that you just alluded to. One is the placebo and how they control for that and the other one is any instances where tapping therapies have been tested against traditional psychotherapy or CBT or something like that. For those that don’t know, CBT is cognitive behavioral therapy. This placebo effect thing is also interesting. I’m curious, has any of the research said, “Okay. Well, let’s have you kind of recite the mantra or do the speaking aspect of this while tapping on completely different parts of the body that are not associated with any of these meridians?” Have those studies been done and what have they found?
Nick Ortner: Yeah. You know, I don’t know to the last part of the question. I know that there are some mechanism papers that have been working on that like, “Okay. What if we do this? What if we do that?” I can’t answer the placebo verse CBT verse tapping. I mean that was a clear-cut study and as I mentioned with cortisol. It’s not just subjective, “Oh, I feel better.” Some people will say, “The tapping is a distraction mechanism. Oh okay. It distracted me so that’s why I’m happy.” You can’t fake cortisol in the body. It’s like either cortisol goes down or it doesn’t. There’s a great story behind this study. The lead researcher Dawson Church did this study.
Sent out all the samples to the lab to get them all tested. He was going to present a paper about it at a big conference. He was waiting for the results, waiting for the results. He kept calling. They said, “We’re working on it, this, that and the other.” Finally, he said, “What is taking so long? It’s double the normal time,” or whatever it is. They said that they kept retesting the cortisol levels on the tapping group because they’d never seen a drop that dramatic in cortisol in an hour’s time. Their initial instinct was, “Well, we’re doing something wrong with the samples,” because they hadn’t seen it in the testing they do for whatever other things that they do.
They hadn’t seen the dramatic drop in cortisol. That one’s there. CBT, you know, cognitive behavioral therapy, that’s the gold standard. Again I’m not knocking it. It’s a fantastic therapy, but there’s a reason why I have psychologists and psychiatrists come up to me every day and say, “Oh my gosh. I brought this into my practice, to my existing practice, and I don’t know how I functioned before. I don’t know what I’ve done the last 20 years because the results that people are getting are just out of this world.” I think there are a couple of things in place there. Not only does the tapping work so well, but compared to CBT, you and I are working and talking together.
We talk for an hour. Maybe you feel great after an hour, but I don’t see you until next week or the month after. With tapping, the therapist can give the client something to take home. Hey, on Saturday night when you’re lonely and anxious and depressed, here is a process you can do that’s going to make your body feel better.
Ari Whitten: Right. Just for a little bit of context also, CBT has that to some extent. What you’re saying is this study actually showed that tapping was more effective than CBT.
Nick Ortner: Yeah, and especially when it came to again in that particular one, cortisol. If you have a good therapist, they should help people think differently outside of the office. Right? That’s the beauty of CBT. To me, it’s not like one or the other. I’ve got a friend who has developed EFT CBT. Right? He’s like, “Hey, look, let’s just put the tapping on top of all these other great practices.” If someone does Jungian therapy, like whatever they do, they can just add this as a component. You’re bringing the body in. I think that’s the real breakthrough in it. When that amygdala’s firing, when we’re in that stressed state, when we’re in that fight or flight response, this helps unlock that state.
Ari Whitten: Right. Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve actually gone through a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology. I decided not to pursue a career in clinical psychology. I mean one of the things that I can bring into this discussion is just to contrast the fact that so many of these different psychotherapeutic methods are very, very complex, very long and drawn out, require many years of schooling to be educated in these different paradigms and techniques. What you’re talking about is a technique that can essentially be learned in 10 minutes.
There’s research on it showing that it may be just as effective or maybe in some cases more effective as a lot of these very complex psychotherapeutic methods that may involve years of psychotherapy.
Nick Ortner: Yeah. Thank you for bringing that up because there are a couple big components of that. One is it’d be amazing if everyone on the planet could talk to a CBT therapist once a week, but most people can’t. Right? 99%, 97% of the population, there’s actually economically cannot afford that. We don’t have enough therapists for the people that need therapists. There’s that component of just supply and demand and making it accessible to people, whereas tapping at your fingertips, you can learn it online for free. It doesn’t require anything for someone at home who has no money or is desperate or is alone or is anxious to put the practice in place.
That’s a great thing about it. That component in and of itself, and not comparing or competing, but that’s a leg up to go, “Hey, someone can do it on their own.”
Ari Whitten: Yeah, for sure. I mean I appreciate your hesitancy to not compare and compete or want to upset anybody, but at the same time if the research is there showing this is as effective or more effective, I mean that should be communicated even if it pisses some people off who are educated in very complex methods of psychotherapy that involve the patient coming to see them for years and so on. I mean if you can accomplish the same end result in a matter of days or weeks instead of years and spending thousands of dollars, then that should be communicated to people even if it pisses some people off.
Nick Ortner: No, for sure. Look, hopefully, people aren’t threatened by it because great … If you went to school for four years to learn all these complex things, when you learn tapping and you sit down with that person in front of you and you do the tapping with them, you’re going to bring insights to it that I won’t bring, that someone who just learned it won’t bring. It doesn’t mean that these tools can’t compliment each other. It’s like, “Oh okay. I got to throw all this stuff out the window.”
It’s sort of like saying to a medical doctor, “Oh well, medical doctors, they’re not going to learn nutrition because they learn all these other things that they spent four years on. Nutrition, yeah, even though it makes it better and it’s important, we’re not going to learn it just because it’s important.” The reason I don’t want to compare and I don’t want it to be a contest is I feel like when we look at the history of tapping, the passion with Dr. Callahan, who has sadly passed away, and with Gary Craig, it was very easy to set up these camps. Right? It was like tapping or no tapping.
I’m not saying either one of them did it, but the community sort of had this idea like, “Well, you’re an idiot if you don’t do it.” It’s like no. Let’s work on the research. I mean for a long time the research we didn’t … First off, it’s expensive. Right? It’s like difficult to do period. The thinking was well, it works so well and it’s so obvious and look, you can have someone come in who has a phobia and they’re better 20 minutes later. How can you argue it? We didn’t have that emphasis on let’s do the research right and let’s be thoughtful about this. Let’s see where we’re wrong and where we’re right. I try to bring a measure of that to the discussion because I think that’s how …
Tapping for PTSD
I mean, the things that matter to me most, I work on spreading it to the general public especially in the self-help world and that kind of thing. That’s where this is known, but what matters to me most is getting it in schools and getting it in VA hospitals and these institutions. That’s where the most people are. Right? The veterans are showing up at the VA hospital. They’re not buying self-help book as a majority of people. That’s where the world is. What do we need to do with this technique to take the steps so we can be … We actually were just accepted into the VA as an approved therapy just about a year ago, which is awesome.
What are those steps that we can be reasonable about it and we can help the most people?
Ari Whitten: Awesome. One of the studies that you sent to me that I found most impressive was on PTSD. I would love if you could just give listeners an overview of some of the most impressive research and what tapping has been found to be really effective for.
Nick Ortner: Yeah. Talking about the Veteran’s Hospital and the work being done there, PTSD at its most basic level, total sensory overload. Right? Too many experiences. We were talking about getting laughed at in front of the class. Right? That’s a little experience that can keep you from speaking in public. Whole different story when you see your buddy die in front of you when you are at war for a year and your amygdala, that fight or flight response system, is on all day long. Right? Seven days a week, 365, 24 hours a day. That amygdala is activated for good reason in that case because you’re in physical danger. You got to stay on to keep yourself alive.
What often happens to some people and it depends on circumstances and makeup and how they go to war and just how their brains are structured, they come home and it’s too much. Totally overwhelming. What the tapping seems to be doing step-by-step as you look at some of those memories and send a calming signal as you begin to rewire to the brain is it just calms everything down. I remember a great story from a couple years ago.
We’ve donated DVDs and books to Fort Hood in Texas. We had a guy sort of underground. This was before it was approved. Tapping with veterans and giving them the books and all this stuff.
He tells a story about one veteran who walked into a Walmart and the lights and the people and the noise, it was just like too much. It was starting to trigger him. He started tapping. He’s just like, “I don’t care that I’m in public. I’m doing it right here to calm myself down.” Two other guys walked by him and they look at him and go, “Keep tapping. It works.”
Ari Whitten: That’s awesome.
Nick Ortner: It’s happening. Again another example of being able to bring the tool in, like this guy is at Walmart and there’s sensory overload and there’s too much. He can do something to calm his body in that moment. We’re getting there. We have more research lined up. We’re even starting to look at stuff like DNA and RNA.
More research coming.
As I said we got approved to be in the VA and hopefully, that will open up a lot more doors to continue to help these guys in need.
Tapping for depression – how it works
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. Love that. What else? Depression, anxiety, stress. I mean based on the study you talked about earlier lowering cortisol, I would imagine it’s very effective just for lowering stress and anxiety in the midst of that happening.
Nick Ortner: Right in that moment like how do you lower anxiety doing the tapping. Depression’s interesting because it’s like it’s not easy. Right? It’s heavy. It’s complicated. I don’t know want to say it’s more complicated than anxiety, but they’re different beasts. Where tapping can be effective with depression besides releasing the stress around it and whatever the thinking patterns are is that the physical component of tapping is an energizing process. As we said earlier, even if you just do the tapping without any focus on things, it’s an energizing process. Depression tends to be a low energy process and the tapping in and of itself can start to unlock like okay, I feel better.
I’m taking deeper breaths and I can move forward. Oftentimes with anything we’re doing, any intervention we’re doing in our lives, we’re just looking for a break. Right? We just start building a little bit of hope. The hope is a word I hear all the time that’s happening with people. They go, “I just feel some hope.” Because here’s the thing, when you’re depressed and you’re in the midst of it, there is no hope. You’ve tried this and you’ve tried that and none of it has seemed to work, so now there’s even less hope that there was before because every failure sucks out some more hope.
What’s happening, it’s so quick, it’s so effective, it’s so immediate it helps unlock these energies in the body and just … Then people say, “I have hope.” Whether it’s the tapping that takes them totally out of their depression or if they go, “You know, I have hope so I’m going to exercise.” Right? It’s like you got to just find these little places of energy. I have hope. It’s going to exercise. Look, exercise is probably the best cure for depression out there. It beats all the placebos and it beats all the drugs, but there’s no money in exercise. I think it just begins to unlock it.
Tapping for pain
Ari Whitten: Absolutely. I know you’ve written a book on pain. Based on what you were just describing depression being a low energy thing, I think there’s obviously links to maybe dealing with chronic fatigue, but to my knowledge, it hasn’t been tested yet in people specifically with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Nick Ortner: Yeah. I haven’t seen any studies that are like chronic fatigue, but we’ve done a lot with autoimmune conditions generally. With pain, the reason my second book was on pain relief because when I go up on stage and speak to people, usually what I do I talk about tapping and then I’ll say, “Hey, let’s have a demonstration. Who here is in physical pain?” About a third of the audience will raise their hand. 25% to 35% any given time, which is just incredible that that many people are in physical pain. I’ll pick three people from the audience. Never met them. No idea what’s coming.
We talk and we tap on pain relief and time and again people get results. Within 20 minutes of tapping they go, “Oh my gosh. I haven’t felt this good in ages.” I was on a podcast a couple months ago talking to the host.
We’re in person out in LA. He goes, “It works for pain. Let’s get my buddy in here and let’s tap on his neck.” This is a big podcast, so I’m like I want this to work. The guy sits down in front of me. I was also a little nervous because guys tend to be emotionally closed up. This guy was just like his friend working in the other room. It wasn’t like he was into this stuff per se. Talking about the placebo effect, right, whether it plays in.
He came in having no idea who I was, this, that and the other. He had a stiff neck. I was like, “All right. How much does it hurt?” Seven or eight. “Okay. What’s your range of motion?” He’d be like this and then like this. Really limited range of motion. We do the tapping. I’m asking him what’s going on in his life and stress. If you listen to the tapping, it wasn’t great tapping in that sometimes I’ll work with someone and you really like dive in and be like, “Oh my gosh. I realize that this was happening.” We unlock a vulnerability and had a big breakthrough and now the pain’s gone. Right? This wasn’t that. I’m a little nervous.
I’m like, “Boy, this guy’s closed up. He’s clammed up. I need some more time than the 10 minutes I have with him on a podcast. Maybe if I had an hour to get a little rapport and go deeper.” Okay. We’re doing the tapping, do this on the other eye and let’s see your neck. He goes whomp, whomp, back and forth. Pains? “Oh, it’s like a one or a two. I can’t believe it.” Then just the range of motion like huge. What happened in that moment?
Ari Whitten: Real quick for people listening to this, not watching this video, basically what Nick just showed is the difference between when the guy was initially in pain he could barely move his neck. He could barely twist from side to side. Then after the tapping, his range of motion dramatically improved, which is generally a range of motion correlates very well to the degree of pain and restriction in the area.
Nick Ortner: Yeah. Yeah. This is another cool part about the process that maybe he … He’s on a podcast, so he’s not telling me everything that’s going on his life. Maybe he just had a baby and he didn’t feel good enough as a father. I’m making things up. He’s thinking this and that’s stressing him out or he’s not keeping up or he’s angry about something. We did the tapping. He didn’t have to tell me these things. He was accessing the emotions because I was telling him about the stress and this, that and the other. He was doing his own work. That’s a place for therapists. A therapist doesn’t have to say …
We sit down for the first time and there isn’t that rapport or someone feels shame or guilt about something. They go, “You know, I don’t want to say this to my therapist.” Right? “I’m embarrassed with what I did. I’m embarrassed with what I said. I feel too vulnerable to share.” They don’t have to share. They can just think it in their mind, go through the tapping process, and begin to unlock it. Then what usually happens is okay, now I released the shame about what happened or the guilt because of X and now I can talk about it. Then that opens it up.
Tapping for anxiety and stress – Peace or panic
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. One of the other things you talk about in your work is peace or panic. Can you describe what that’s all about?
Nick Ortner: Yeah. We talked about that amygdala, that amygdala firing. It’s either firing or it’s not. Now there are levels of it. It could be full-blown danger and then I’m a little stressed. I think if we look at our days if we look at our lives, they are again on a scale a mix of peace of panic. At the end of the day, the outward events can be controlled. We can be in control of our inner experience. A stressful morning because the kids are running around and then got to get lunch ready and this, that and the other, even that experience, that busyness, that busy day can be conducted from a place of peace or panic.
Right now I can be conducting this podcast and answer your questions from a place of peace or panic. There are sides. Right? There’s the ultimate peace where I’m like meditating and zenned out. Then there’s a little bit of panic and a little bit of stress or extra panic and stress. I think that distinction and the reason why I talk about it in my book and I talk about it with tapping is that we can aspire in everything we’re doing to move away from that panic and towards that peace. Tapping is a tool to help us get to that place.
It’s what I hear time and again from people where they go, “I read your book the last month and I’ve been doing the tapping. My whole life is the same, but I’m happy. I still don’t love my job, but I’m not stressed out every day. Now I have the resources to maybe change my job or make better decisions.” That is the starting point for everything.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. I love that distinction. It’s actually something that’s personally meaningful to me because I have a son. He’s a little over one right now. My wife and I have just gone through this initial first year of his life, which … You have kids, right?
Nick Ortner: I am a two and a half-year-old.
Ari Whitten: You know how that is and how stressful and hectic your life becomes and how there’s now this constant demand on you. At certain times it can feel overwhelming to just have an unceasing, unrelenting demand on you. Even for her especially, through all hours of the night even. It gets to the point where you just feel overwhelmed by this constant needing to care for the demands of this other creature, this other being. I think it kind of naturally just wires you into this mode of panic all the time of you’re doing all the things you need to do, but you’re in this constant state of stress, panic, anxiety, feeling like just worried.
You just end up in this place if you’re still doing everything you need to do, but you’re panicked and stressed the whole time. One of the discussions my wife and I had just a couple months ago is like just this realization like hey, it’s possible to still do everything we need to do and care for him and get everything we need to do done, but do it with a smile on your face and while being relaxed and not being stressed and overwhelmed and irritable and annoyed the whole time, but actually like do it all and be in a good place.
Nick Ortner: Wow. That’s huge. I mean, right, that’s huge, but it doesn’t come naturally to people. We have to think about it. We have to be conscious about it. You’re going to get knocked off and you’re going to find yourself in that moment like oh, here I am again. That’s okay. How do I find peace? I’ll make sure to send you my next book, which comes out in about a month and a half. It is sort of a side project is tapping for parents and kids.
Ari Whitten: Tapping for baby overwhelm disorder.
Nick Ortner: It is. It’s tapping for parents and kids and we talk about how to do it for ADD and autism and all these other conditions for kids, but the first eight chapters are how do you tap as a parent. Right? What’s that thinking? That thinking is the baseline of everything. Especially even later in the book when we say talk about your child’s ADD and how you might use tapping to help them focus and calm down, the first step is always for you as a parent to do your own tapping on that issue because we bring so much baggage. We’re like, “Oh, my child has an anger problem. They are broken and they need to be fixed and yada, yada.”
Doing that internal tapping on the stress and the anxiety and the belief everything that tends to change the relationship even before you get to the kid.
Ari Whitten: For sure, yeah, and I can attest to the fact that kids are very sensitive beings and they really pick up on a lot of these energies that are there that you’re emanating that you’re not even necessarily conscious of.
Nick Ortner: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Tapping for anxiety and stress – The negativity to positivity ratio
Ari Whitten: One of the other things you talk about is kind of this negativity to positivity ratio. Specifically, you talk about a three to a one ration being important to thrive in life. What’s that all about?
Nick Ortner: That deals with the negativity bias, which is that fight or flight response that’s happening. The negativity bias in particular talks about this idea that we are conditioned through many eons of evolution to look for the negative. We are looking for the tiger in the bushes because the guy who looks for the tiger in bushes found the tiger or noticed it and ran away.
The happy-go-lucky affirmation spouting, the guy who was tapping then because he’s all relaxed or whatever, he got eaten. We’re conditioned to look for the negative, which is why as we know we can get a hundred positive emails. We run this podcast. We get a hundred emails.
People say they love it and everything, and then one person says something really mean about it, and the other hundred are out the window. Right? They’re gone. It’s like our brain locks into that negative to stay safe, to fix it, to make sure it doesn’t happen again, et cetera.
Ari Whitten: It’s so true I mean even in my own personal experience, even being conscious of this, I still find myself … I’ll get 500 or 1,000 positive comments and I’m like, “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Great. Yeah. I know it’s good.” Then one person is pissed off, which there’s always someone who’s mad about something. I mean anytime you know that when you’re putting work into the online space, there’s always one person or two people out there.
Nick Ortner: If there isn’t, you’re not doing a good enough job because you’re not reaching enough people.
Ari Whitten: There’s always that one and it’s crazy that even I find myself still always being concerned with that one person, which is the last person I should be concerned with.
Nick Ortner: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Ari Whitten: Yet we have such a strong negativity bias. It’s crazy.
Nick Ortner: Big announcement here is when I read about the negativity bias in the first place, my friend Rick Hanson wrote about it in a couple of his books and it just like opened up this world and it seemed so obvious. Just knowing about it is a huge step forward because when you know about it and you read that comment and you just go, “All right. There’s my negativity bias. It’s doing its thing,” I can watch it and I can know that my brain’s doing its thing now. I can tap on it to release it. That works really well even though I just can’t stop thinking about this comment. Boom, the body, let’s go.
Then when it comes to the positive, that’s when that’s an active process to go, “Okay. There’s going to be a thousand comments that are all positive and I’m going to read one that just really moves me and I’m going to read it 10 times. I’m not just going to read it. I’m just going to sit with it and pause and go, ‘Wow. That was a real person who watched what I did and then sat down in front of their computer and typed these words, put themselves out in the public to say you really helped me or you changed my life or I’m so grateful.'” That is huge. Just one of those comments is absolutely huge. Now you’re just building that muscle in the brain.
It’s that positivity muscle, but I think these practices are important because if not, the winds and the winds of life just blows around and we could be uber successful with all these things happening and we remember the three people who criticized us in the last 10 years.
Ari Whitten: Right. Yeah, it’s so true. It definitely needs to be a conscious practice to savor all of those positive comments instead of overlooking them as you’re browsing for the one person who’s writing something …
Nick Ortner: We’re just looking for the tiger in the bushes. I mean just noticing that when you’re scrolling through the comments looking for that, your brain is going, “Where’s that tiger? Let me find it. Let me find that tiger,” as opposed to looking at the sunset and the trees and the stars.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, for sure. I’ve had to make it a conscious practice for me. Maybe we all have a super strong negativity bias. I feel like I probably had a particularly strong one. I don’t know because I don’t know other people’s experience, but mine is very strong. I’ve had to really make it a conscious practice, but it’s paid dividends. It’s a beautiful practice. When I get those positive messages, instead of overlooking them and looking for the negative ones, to really sit and savor the fact that I’ve improved someone’s life. When you make that a practice, it really does translate into you feeling so much better in your own life.
Nick Ortner: Yeah, no doubt.
Tapping for anxiety and stress – the concept of an energy leak
Ari Whitten: One other thing I want to talk about particularly relevant to my audience, people feeling with fatigue, is the concept of an energy leak. What is that all about and how can people repair their energy leaks?
Nick Ortner: Yeah, that’s great. Let’s just imagine that every day when you wake up in the morning you download a hundred units of energy or $100 of energy. That’s your energetic starting point. We all get it. Boom. What tends to happen in our life is that talking about that girl in fifth grade where she got up in front of the class and people laughed at her. In that moment, her energy went to that experience. Right? It was just like hey, that’s costing you a dollar because you’re walking around every day with that imprint of that thing. Then there’s per day stuff.
If you’re stressed out about something you have coming up three weeks from now or an email you got today, you take $5 of your energy and off it goes. If you have an unhealed relationship, when you think about your mom whether she’s with us or not or your dad and whether they’re with you or passed away, you think them about them and you go, “Oh.” There are stress and anxiety and fear and anger and all this emotion. Now you take $20. It’s like hey, that’s a big relationship that is unhealed, that is stressing you out and you put it there. We tend to think because we don’t think about these things on a daily basis, but we tend to think oh yeah, I hate my mom, but I just don’t think about her.
I don’t think about the relationship and I just block it all out so it doesn’t affect me.
Ari Whitten: A lot of this stuff is happening beneath the surface of conscious awareness.
Nick Ortner: 100%. If there’s a relationship or an event or an experience or whatever that when you think about, you get a goo in your body, it’s costing you energy. I think its physical energy. I think that you are going to have less energy to move around to do the things that you want in your life if you have unhealed relationships or you have things in the past that you can’t let go of. The contrast is if you think about … We all had high school breakups. Right? Most people had whether in high school or college and especially like our first bad breakup when it was like, “Oh, I dumped her. She dumped me. We were heartbroken,” or whatever it was.
I can talk about a breakup in college. I remember it so clearly. She broke up with me and then we got back together. I broke up with her and I remember the first heartbreak or when she broke up with me. I can remember lying in my bed in my college dorm room just like thinking the world is going to end. I remember that. I can talk about this and there’s nothing here. Right? That is a healed gone experience. Then the other thing that might happen for me or someone else is they can remember something like that and they go, “And I’m still heartbroken or I still don’t trust or I’m still scared or I’m still holding onto it.”
If you are holding on to something from the past, it’s costing you energy. No ifs, ands, or buts.
How perfectionism costs a lot of energy and how to change it
Ari Whitten: One of the other I think biggest energy leaks that I see a lot of people that I work with and people with fatigue dealing with is lack of self-acceptance. There seems to be such an epidemic now of people who grow into adulthood and go through their whole lives even without ever really coming to a place of fully accepting, fully loving, fully appreciating who they actually are. There are just these deep elements of I don’t like this part of myself.
Nick Ortner: 100%. The basic EFT tapping statement is even though and you fill in the blank where I’m angry or I’m upset or whatever, even though blank, I love and accept myself or I love, accept and forgive myself. That’s really a cornerstone of that deeper work because that’s the key to everything. Now I talk about in my books specifically people struggle with the idea of loving themselves and accepting themselves. In part, I think because they often think that they have to do it 100% immediately. Right? It’s like, “Oh, if I have to accept myself, that means I have to accept all of me and everything I’ve done and blah, blah, blah.”
It’s like since they can’t do it perfectly and they can’t do it 100%, they don’t even know what it would feel like to do it, I’m not even going to try to do it. That’s why I start playing with language and thinking around like hey, can you accept a little part of yourself? Can you accept your pinky toe? This little element where you go … To have a starting point because most people when you talk about loving yourself, people just don’t … What does that mean? What does that feel like? Well, on a scale of 0 to 10, if 10 was absolute love for yourself, could you love yourself at a 2? What would that feel like? You know, I’d stop and appreciate this and notice that.
Then from that foundation, we can build. We can build to have that grow. Like everything else we’ve talked about today, which people don’t like to hear because they want to be fixed tomorrow, but it’s a process. I’m in the process of loving myself more every single day and accepting myself more every day and accepting who I am and what I do and the choices I make. You get thrown a little off track and you go, “Okay. I’m going to give back.” You are absolutely right. That underlying love and self-acceptance, the drain that that has on your health when you don’t have it is massive.
Ari Whitten: It’s interesting looking back on my own life. One of the things I struggled with a lot was during my years in school, in high school, in university, in graduate school, my brain for whatever reason, I could not get my brain to work in subjects that I didn’t have an interest in. I think everyone has this to one degree or another. I think that I had it to a very extreme degree where my brain just like would not do work for subjects that I was not interested in. I wouldn’t do particularly well in those classes. For a long time especially when all of my coursework in the younger years when all of my classes were things that I wasn’t interested in, I’m not a very good student.
Not that I was terrible. I was just an average student through most of my younger years and thought I was kind of average brain power and average skills and knowledge and so on. It wasn’t until I started to get into the subjects that I was interested in, that I was passionate about that I realized that I have a really unique gift for that and kind of a what Dan Sullivan might call like a genius zone in certain areas. For me, it’s very polarized that like my lack of ability in things that I’m not interested in is I think directly related to the fact that I have special abilities in things that I am passionate about.
It took so long to realize that and appreciate that about myself and get over the fact that I wasn’t particularly good at certain subjects and realized wow, that’s because my brain is wired to be like obsessive and really good at certain things, but not so great at other things.
Nick Ortner: No, I love that. These are the distinctions where you just reframed everything about yourself. Right? It was like you took the rules of right and wrong that you had learned from wherever society and you said, “No, this is the truth of who I am, what I’m good at, recognizing what I’m not good at and be okay with what I’m not good at.” I’m with you. If I think about my business life the last 20 years and especially the last 10 years in the tapping world, half the time I spend on the phone with somebody about something. Right?
For a long time I would say to myself after a long day of being on the phone with eight different people, I would feel like that was easy for me, so then I wasn’t productive because I had these rules that productivity must mean sitting at my laptop suffering whether doing a thousand emails or writing a book or blah, blah, blah, whatever it was, and just chatting on the phone with friends and business partners and affiliates and this and that would somehow not work. Maybe because it was too easy. We have that peered in value that it has to be painful. Step-by-step I started recognizing like no, this is a strength of mine.
Whatever I did during that day, communication, brain, creativity, ideas, delegating, like that is a strength so I’m going to own that strength. Stop beating myself up for whatever the other things that I thought I should be doing, especially in this day and age where we have so much opportunity and so much coming at us. It’s more important than ever to recognize what is it that you want in your life. Why are you doing this? Why are you getting up in the morning? What is that mission? Not trying to do it perfectly.
Social media is great in some ways when it comes to community and great resources and information and then the dark side of it is the comparison to others and the idea that someone else is doing something more exciting in any moment that you are and posting the perfect picture on Instagram or Facebook and you’re somehow failing to live up to that. Deciding for yourself what do you want out of your life, what do you want to experience. It’s something that I work on every day. What do I want? What are the choices? What brings me joy and how do I make that happen?
Ari Whitten: I think getting to that place of self-acceptance, accepting things that are not your ideal about yourself or areas where you’re not that strong and really owning the areas where you do have strengths and stepping into that full acceptance of kind of the totality of who you are, strengths and weaknesses, I think is critical to becoming a mature person and also a healthy, well-adapted person that is happy, that likes their life. You know what I mean?
Nick Ortner: Yeah, 100%. I agree with you completely.
Ari Whitten: I know you wrote a book recently. What personal kind of experience, what growth did you experience personally while writing that book?
Nick Ortner: Yeah, great question. My latest book is The Tapping Solution for Manifesting Your Greatest Self. We’ve been talking about some of the concepts that are thrown in there. I think this was my most personal book to date in that I shared different stories about my life. I had done that in some other books, but this was me talking about June waking up at 3 A.M. and what looks like and what this process looks like. What I loved about writing this book is that I really owned … If I look at who I am in the world and why I think I’m here and what I’m doing, it’s to be an ambassador to tapping, besides being a great dad, try to be a great dad, and all of these other family things.
When it comes to the business side, I’m an ambassador for tapping. I didn’t invent this, but I communicate my thoughts and feelings about it. With this book, I really owned the different ways of thinking that I have about it even when it comes to books themselves. I work with my publisher on this book to change the line spacing from what other books do all the time. I kept looking and I’m going, “These are impossible to read.” Our brains are changing and we’re looking at social media and short stuff. We’re seeing more white space. I’m saying, “These books are hard to read. Can we make it easier to read for people?”
The publisher was like, “Wait, no, but that’s not how we do the spacing.” We tried it and it was like, “Oh my gosh. This is so much easier to read.” I really enjoyed that part of the journey of going how can I truly change someone’s life with this book. I had test readers as I was writing the book, which was a different experience for me as well. That was really positive because it was different than an Amazon review that’s so great. You get, “Oh, I read the book. I loved it,” et cetera. This was, “Oh, on day four I really had such an insight with this or I had such a question about that.” It was a much more intimate experience for me with those test readers.
It wasn’t like the book is written, I speak it and, it’s done. I write it and it’s out in the world. It was a collaboration. It was a collaboration with real people where I saw what was resonating with them. I wrote day 12 and saw that you know what? I was wrong. This wasn’t an issue for people or I wasn’t explaining myself clearly enough. I really enjoyed that part of it. I think going forward that collaboration getting that feedback loop. We’re working on an app right now, which should be out in a couple months.
I’m excited about the feedback loop there. I will data and talk about research and studies. Someone can do a five-minute anxiety meditation and they’re going to have their number before and after and we’re going to get that data back if they’re willing to share it to show these are the changes that are happening. We’re going to see hey, someone did this process and it wasn’t working for some reason. We’re not seeing the change. We have to do something different in the process or the language or the length. That’s been my exciting in writing this book.
How do we make this a dynamic process, so it’s not all the ideas in my brain, are all right and I’m going to tell you how to use the process. Like no, we’re discovering this. Let’s work together to unlock these challenges and issues. That way we can reach the most people in the most effective way.
How to learn more about Nick Ortner and tapping for anxiety
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. I love this process. I love the fact that I initially brushed this off and that you …
Nick Ortner: Absolutely.
Ari Whitten: … research that educated me and actually showed me like hey, there’s really good science that shows this works, and that the research itself is very impressive. With that said, where can people learn more about this and I know that you have a gift that you’re going to give all my listeners? We’re going to put a link on the page for this, which is going to be at theenergyblueprint.com/tapping. What is that gift and how can people learn more about how to actually implement this in their lives?
Nick Ortner: Yeah, great. That’s the first two chapters of my New York Times bestselling book for free so you can get started. Within those two chapters, you learn all about the science, the research and how to do the tapping. You can go and run with that. We also have a stress relief CD, which is a digital format. It kind of takes you through a guided process. If you’re more auditory and want to just be taken through that, that comes with it. Then from there, we’ll share emails and resources with you to go further. I mean the sky’s the limit on what you can do, but just get started with the basics. Have an experience. Read the first two chapters, do the tapping, have an experience.
That way you can decide for yourself this made me feel better. Because at the end of the day, that’s what we want. Right? What are things that make me feel better that I can use in my life today?
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. I love that. Well, thank you so much, Nick. It’s really been such a pleasure having you on and having this conversation. I know it’s going to help a lot of people.
Nick Ortner: I really enjoyed it. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Ari Whitten: Take care.
How To Use Tapping for Anxiety And Stress with Nick Ortner– Show Notes
What tapping and emotional freedom technique (EFT) is (01:55)
How fear can be anchored in the body (4:08)
What meridians are and how it tapping was invented (7:09)
How tapping works to alleviate physiological discomfort (11:38)
Tapping for PTSD (23:05)
Tapping for depression – how it works (26:39)
Tapping for pain (28:52)
Tapping for anxiety and stress – Peace or panic (33:11)
Tapping for anxiety and stress – The negativity to positivity ratio (38:16)
Tapping for anxiety and stress – the concept of an energy leak (43:17)
How perfectionism costs a lot of energy and how to change it (46:32)