When I was working with the person who taught me EFT, it worked great. Now that I’m working on my own, I don’t know what phrases to use. Do you have any suggestions?
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is different from most protocols in its flexibility. There is not just one way to do it. What works on one problem might be less effective on the next. What works for one person is not going to work as well on the next. This is particularly true with the words and phrases we say.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the question, “Are these the right words?”
The problem is that’s the wrong question. When I say wrong, I mean that it’s not a helpful question.
There are no right or wrong words with EFT. The words we use are not magical. They are useful only insofar as they help us to stay focused on the issue we want to resolve. Just saying words out loud doesn’t mean that we’re focused on what those words mean.
On more than one occasion I’ve been in church saying the creed with the rest of the congregation. The words are just coming out of my mouth as my mind wanders to what I want to do with my afternoon. All of a sudden I snap back into the moment and I have no idea where we are in the prayer. I’ve been on autopilot. Words have been coming out of my mouth, but they mean nothing to me.
In the same fashion, I can be saying, “This pain in my knee…This pain in my knee…This pain in my knee…This pain in my knee…This pain in my knee…” and be thinking of anything but my knee.
Also, it’s possible for me to tune into the pain in my knee without ever saying those words out loud.
Often when my clients are dealing with something that is very emotional, rating a 9 or 10, I don’t have them say anything out loud. To start, they can just tap. If they are at a 9 or 10 they are fully tuned in to the emotion. As the emotional level comes down, we start using reminder phrases to stay focused.
The key take away is this: It’s more important to remember why we use the reminder phrase than how to do the reminder phrase. If you remember its purpose, to keep us focused, then you can say anything you want while tapping, as long as it keeps you focused on the issue at hand.
For example, I’ve worked with clients who have an issue with a person I also know. The client doesn’t want to put me in the middle of the dispute. When they are tapping I have them say, “This anger at old what’s his name because he stabbed me in the back.”
In this example my client knows who “old what’s his name” is. By using that phrase, they are tuned in to the issue, and I never have to know who the issue is with.
Here are a few guidelines for choosing phrases:
1) Keep it simple. Using the phase, “this pain in my knee,” is powerful enough. You don’t have to get any more sophisticated that that.
2) Be as specific as possible. Before you start tapping on “this pain in my knee,” make sure you think about the pain in your knee. Ask the question listed in EFT 102: Tune In – (Physical Pain) to get a really good idea of what it feels like. You can even use those words:
This pain in my knee…That feels red…And is the shape of a rod…That feels like it is made of fire
These descriptive words will help you tune in.
3) For an emotion, just tell the story of what happened.
My boss came in at the end of the day to give me extra work…I needed to get home to help my wife…It was so inconsiderate…I can’t help it if he can’t get his work done on time…It’s unfair that he’s heaping it on me…It really made me mad…It hurts that he doesn’t think my time is as important is his
And so on. It’s as simple as telling the story. State the facts and state how they make you feel.
4) Break the issue down to the smallest pieces possible. The easiest way to do this is to keep asking why.
I’m mad at my roommate…Why are you mad?…The kitchen is a mess….Why does this make you mad?…Because it feels like I live in a pigsty….Why does living in a pigsty make you mad?…Because my friends see it when they come over….Why does it make you mad that your friends might think you live in a pigsty?…Because they think I’m irresponsible.
Being mad because the kitchen is dirty and being mad because it makes me look bad are very different things. Get specific. You can now tap on, “When my roommate makes our place a mess I ‘m afraid that others are going to judge me.”
5) If you don’t know what to say, tap on that.
I don’t know what to say…I’m afraid I’m going to use the wrong words…I’m worried this is a waste of time…But I know you really can’t do this wrong…Even if I have no progress I’m only going to waste one minute of time…There really is no penalty for doing it wrong…I give myself permission to try. [How to use these tapping phrases]
Then give it a shot. You will find the right words.