Note: This article was originally shared on Sept 2nd, 2012 with the title “Why I Hate Emotional Freedom Techniques”. This is an updated and edited version of that article.
I have a confession to make. I hate Emotional Freedom Techniques.
OK, I don’t hate the tool, but I do hate the name.
In the beginning I hated the name because I thought it did the technique such a disservice.
Here we were being given this amazingly powerful tool that was changing people’s lives. It was helping them to release lifelong limiting beliefs, ameliorate chronic physical pain, ease deep-seated emotional issues, and eliminate cravings. It has brought relief to people in hospitals, in war-torn countries and disaster zones, and in prisons.
As a professional using EFT I thought the name “Emotional Freedom Techniques” undermined just how powerful a tool it is.
As someone who has used tapping for many years, I know what that freedom feels like after a powerful tapping session. The world feels new because we have released what has been holding us back. But this is the language of someone who has used EFT and experienced its benefits.
For those who haven’t used it before, it is easy to perceive EFT as something frivolous and unpowerful.
For a number of years I was given the opportunity to teach tapping as part of an anger management class in a county jail. One day in class I was telling the guys in jail about my disdain for the name and one of them piped up and said, “You’re right. It shouldn’t be called EFT. It should be BET: Balanced Emotion Techniques.”
It wasn’t just the fact the name was undermining its power, but instead the name wasn’t accurately describing what was going on.
The Goal Is Not To Be Free From Emotions
His comment made me think about the way I teach tapping. Over and over again I teach that emotions are not the problem. Emotions are not the enemy. Emotions are information.
Every time we feel an emotion, our system is just giving us information. When I feel sad, it is saying that something important is missing. When I feel angry, it is telling me that it perceives attack. When I feel frustrated, it is letting me know I am not getting what I want.
This information is both helpful and useful. The goal of tapping isn’t to be free of these emotions.
First, the goal of tapping is to make sure that emotions show up at the right time.
For example, it is right that I fear lions, but if I fear them so much that I can’t leave my apartment in Brooklyn because I know there is a lion ten miles away in the Bronx Zoo, then that fear is completely out of proportion.
Second, the goal of tapping is to make sure emotions are showing up to the right degree.
For example, when someone cuts me off on the highway the rush of adrenalin triggered will help sharpen my senses and help me to control the car and stay safe. If that rush goes on so long that it overwhelms my system and I end up on the side of the road crying for 45 minutes because I almost died, the reaction produced is out of proportion.
I want and need my emotions. They are an important part of how I navigate the world. I don’t want to be free of them.
What Is Important In The End
I have arrived at a point where I mostly just call what I do tapping, because I don’t tap in exactly the way Gary Craig originally taught. But again, that is less important.
What is more important is the fact that we have a clear understanding of what the goal of tapping is. For me, the goals are:
- to help my emotions to show up in a proportional and well-informed way
- to create the space to hear the message these emotions are trying to convey
- to release any useful or limiting beliefs about about myself and the world
- to take the actions I want to take with confidence
I know that if I tap regularly on my emotions, issues, and beliefs, then that will happen. If that happens, then it doesn’t matter if we call it tapping, EFT or Chad. It only matters that I am living the life I want.