One of the easiest ways to tap for an issue is by using the storytelling or movie techniques where you are tapping and working through the basic facts of the story. It can be harder to tap on your own when you don’t have a specific story to tap on.
When we feel an emotion strongly but it is not attached to one particular event or situation, it can be hard to find a story to tap through. Here is a simple process you can use to tap on an emotion when you are in this position.
This is also an excellent tool to use when you are teaching someone to tap. If you follow these steps, writing your answers out on a sheet of paper, not only will you have a successful tapping session, but you will also end up with a tapping script that you can use again.
1) Name The Emotion
This seems like an obvious first step, but sometimes we don’t name what we are experiencing in detail. The more detail we have, the more effective our tapping will be. There is a difference between anger, rage, and betrayal. On the surface we might simply say we are mad, but as we investigate more thoroughly, we can see the subtleties to the emotions we are feeling.
The Center For Non-Violent Communication has come up with a great list of emotions. Print this out and read it over. It will help you to tune into what you are feeling in detail.
2) Name A Specific Instance
In as much detail as you can come up with, describe one specific occasion when you felt this emotion. Talk about who was there, what was said, what you were thinking at the time, what you are thinking now as you remember it, and all the outcomes of the situation.
Imagine you are sitting across from me in a coffee shop and telling me what happened as if I know none of the details.
3) Rate The Emotion On The SUD Scale
On a scale of 0 to 10 rate how large the emotion feels right now. SUD stands for “Subjective Units of Distress” and the SUD Scale is a subjective rank from 0 (no emotion at all) to 10 (overwhelmed by the emotion to the point it is all you can think about).
4) Describe The Physical Sensations
Describe the physical sensations that go along with the emotion in as much detail as possible. In which part (or parts) of the body do you feel it? Is it hot, tight, heavy, itchy, stiff, trembling, clenching, or some other feeling? Do you feel it in more than one part of your body? Describe each part separately. Is there some sort of mental dialogue going on as you feel the emotion? What is the internal voice saying? Who does the voice sound like? Who does it remind you of?
5) List 3 Things That Went Wrong
Because of the instance you describe above what are (at least) three things that went wrong and how were/are you impacted by these outcomes? Sometimes one moment can impact later events and moments. Don’t just think of what went wrong in the moment, but also how it affected later moments. Again, the more detail you use, the better.
6) List 3 Outcomes You Would Like To Have Happen Instead
After something goes wrong there are ways we would like to see it turn out better. What are (at least) three hopes you have for how this could turn out better in the future? Is there a relationship you would like to see mended? Is there something you would like someone to do? Is there a lesson you would like to learn? It is helpful to name how we would like things to turn out.
7) Re-rate On The SUDS Scale
After doing these steps I always like to re-rate the level of emotion. One of three outcomes are possible.
First, the number could go up. This is because you have now spent time thinking about the issue in detail. Often this tunes us into the issue more sharply so that we notice it more, making it feel bigger.
Second, you might notice that the number goes down. Many times simply getting something out of your head will be enough to diminish its intensity. Our minds can be relentless echo chambers, taking negative thoughts or emotions and bouncing them around over and over again. When we drag them into the light of day they often lose their power.
Finally, there might be no change at all. This simply means that the emotion will need more tapping to get it moving.
8) Start To Tap
Go back to the top of your notes. Start reading what you have written out loud as you tap. At the end of each sentence move to the next tapping point.
This is not a race. There is no reason to rush. As you read what you have written out loud pay close attention to the words you are saying. If you are describing what happened then try to relive what you are saying. If you are describing how you would like to see things turn out in the future, really tune into the emotion of having the new and better outcome.
9) Take Notes While You Are Tapping
As you reread what wrote before it is possible that additional details will come into focus. You may also notice new and even better outcomes around this issue for the future. If these things come to mind it is a good idea to take the time to write them down. Not only will you learn valuable things about this specific issue, but you will also learn things about yourself and the larger scope of this particular emotion.
10) Re-Rate One More Time
After you have read through what you have written and have tapped along, re-rate the issue to see where it is now. If you are down to a zero you are done, if you are not then you have the opportunity to move back to the top of the page and tap again.
It is possible to feel an emotion, tap in the moment, and feel better in that moment without making any lasting change. By taking the time to tap through your emotion in this systematized way, not only will you feel better in the moment, but you will be working towards lasting change.