Is there anything I can do with EFT to help with my emotional triggers?
I can remember from my childhood a “conversation” between my mother and sister, the way only mothers and daughters can have a “conversation”).
Mother: You are doing that on purpose just to push my buttons!
Sister: How can I not? Your buttons are this big! (Holding her hands about three feet apart.)
We all have emotional triggers; those people, places, memories and situations that just set us off. One moment we’re fine, the next we’re a mess of anger, frustration, or even sadness. Sometimes this happens in reaction to words someone says. Other times it happens because we’ve returned to a place in our past that has an emotional charge. The trigger could be as small as the song on the radio, a single word, or an image in a commercial on TV.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a great tool for dealing with the emotions that come up after our emotional triggers have been fired. We simply need to tune into what’s going on and what we’re feeling and then notice what happened that set off those feelings. But this isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
The environment around us, at an unexpected time, often touches off these emotional triggers. Generally, when it is fired we are in a public setting. This can make it difficult for us to find the time and space we need to tap.
The environment around us, at an unexpected time, often touches off these emotional triggers. Generally, when it’s fired we are in a public setting. This can make it difficult for us to find the time and space we need to tap.
Also, when we have a significant emotional response from an emotional trigger, we are very wrapped up in the emotions. We aren’t thinking of much else because of the intensity. I know when I experience any emotion over a 7 on the SUDS (Intensity) scale I don’t always have the presence of mind to think, “I should be tapping on this.”
One of the reasons I love EFT is that it’s not only helpful with emotions that come up in the moment, but it can also be used to reduce the potency of or even eliminate the trigger that caused the emotion completely.
For example, I received a call from a client named “Julie”. She was very excited and wanted to tell me about a reception she had attended the night before. During the happy hour before the awards banquet, she was chatting with a few colleagues. One of them, “Jane,” turned to Julie out of the blue and insulted the quality of her work.
Julie explained that in the past she would have said nothing at the time, but for the rest of the evening she would have replayed the conversation over and over in her head, each time agreeing more and more with the person’s assessment of her work and ability, each moment questioning her own abilities. Finally, she would have cried herself to sleep that night.
Instead, she said, “I have done so much EFT work on my self-esteem that I knew what she said wasn’t true. Instead of getting mad, frustrated, or depressed, I just said a little prayer in my head for Jane. I prayed that somebody would affirm the work she was doing.”
That story is the perfect example of how doing work ahead of time will prevent our emotional triggers from going off.
There are three ways to reduce or eliminate the power of these triggers with EFT: take care of the emotion that has been triggered by recent experiences; work on the triggers we already know we have (our ongoing triggers), and look ahead to see what possible triggers are coming up in our future.
Take the time to deal with the emotional triggers that have been set off during the day
Every time an emotional trigger is set off it is a good thing. And, I am not one of those people who love pain. Every time we have an emotional response we gain information. A negative emotional response means we’ve encountered something that is associated with a root problem, belief, or memory that is better healed now than later.
Every symptom we have is attached to a root problem, feeling or belief. It’s very easy for us to forget that every time we work on a symptom, we are also working on the root of the symptom. When we reduce our response to an emotional trigger we are dealing with at least a piece of the core issue. The next time we encounter the same type of trigger our response is going to be less, or even non-existent.
In the best of all worlds, the moment we notice unwanted emotions we would immediately tap them away. When we don’t, or can’t, tap the moment the emotion impacts us, it’s important to come back to this experience at a later time. The experience has given us valuable information about a weakness in ourselves that is better healed.
I take time at the end of every day, before I go to sleep, to review my day. I think of every moment in which I had a disproportionate emotional response. I revisit each of these memories, tapping on them until they no long have an emotional charge.
By doing this, I can get a good night’s sleep because I’m no longer feeling the stresses of the day, and I’m making progress on the core issues that underlie the emotional triggers I have.