[This article is part of a four part series on how to get create with tapping when you are stuck or bored with tapping. A new part willed be added every few weeks. See the parts that have been published so far and check back regularly to see the full series.]
Mechanically tapping/Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a very easy thing to do. All you need is to provide stimulus to the tapping points plus tuning into the issue at hand. The tapping part is easy; what can be hard is the tuning in part. Often we are so close to an issue or we have been working on an issue that it is difficult to see it clearly.
Recently Jeremy Dean’s PSYBlog had a very interesting two part series (via kottke.org) which explored 14 of ways we can become more creative and more efficient problem solvers. In this four part series I am going to explore how we can apply many of these insights to tune into our issues in new ways (plus a few of my own).
Obviously not all of these are going to work for every issue, but by having a complete menu to choose from you are going to find new ways to approach the issue.
Path Of Most Resistance (via part 1)
When people try to be creative they usually take the path of least resistance by building on existing ideas (Ward, 1994). This isn’t a problem, as long as you don’t mind variations on a theme.
If you want something more novel, however, it can be limiting to scaffold your own attempts on what already exists. The path of most resistance can lead to more creative solutions.
◊ For insight: because it’s the path of least resistance, every man and his dog is going up and down it. Try off-road.
How to apply to tapping: One of the reasons I love EFT/tapping is because we can gently creep up on an issue. We don’t have to throw ourselves right in the middle of the emotion to do work. Sometimes we can prevent our own progress because we are proceeding so cautiously that we aren’t making any progress at all.
If this is case you might consider going all the way and really getting after an issue. There are some obvious risks to taking this approach. If we dive in headfirst we get into an emotional state that is overwhelming which prevents any progress at all or we could open an emotional issue that we then carry with us for a great deal of time after our tapping time.
I would only recommend this type of approach with a skilled practitioner. Being a skilled practitioner is more than just being able to lead clients to healing, but also being able to recognize possible pit falls helping you to prevent them or to pull you back when you have become consumed with your emotions.
Re-Conceptualisation (via part 1)
People often jump to answers too quickly before they’ve really thought about the question. Research suggests that spending time re-conceptualising the problem is beneficial.
Mumford et al. (1994) found that experimental participants produced higher quality ideas when forced to re-conceive the problem in different ways before trying to solve it. Similarly a classic study of artists found that those focused on discovery at the problem-formulation stage produced better art (Csikszentmihalyi & Getzels, 1971).
◊ For insight: forget the solution for now, concentrate on the problem. Are you asking the right question?
How to apply to tapping: We become very comfortable with our own story. When someone asks about the work we do we can effortlessly jump in to a quick description of our work. The same is true with our family, our significant other, where we grow up and the like.
It is no different with the issues of our lives, especially for the ones that have been present for many years. There a times in client session where I can hear my client hit the play button to start to tell me the story they have told many times before. The have told the story (“I all started when I was 7…”) so many times that they aren’t even listening to the words they say. It just becomes automatic.
These stories about our issues might have been true at one point, but as more time passes and we keep telling the same story it is less and less likely to be accurate. If you find yourself in this type of rut I would recommend two tactics.
First, retell your story (your explanation of why you are the way you are), but think about every statement to see if they are true. I am not just talking about the fact as we know them, but also (and most importantly) the motivation we have assigned to others peoples acting.
For example, it is true a co-worked showed up 10 minutes late to the meeting. When I tell the story I say that Sally showed up to the meeting 10 minutes late because she doesn’t respect me. The second part of that statement might or might not be true. If we have been telling the story for a while we probably are just taking it as fact and no longer looking to if it is true.
Take every part of your story/explanation a take it apart to see what it is true and what is not.
Second, image what it would be like to re-explain the situation to someone who has no understand of what is going on. I often do this were I image I am explain the situation to an alien from another plant who has just made it to Earth. Since they have no understanding of how humans behave I need to be very clear in articulating everything that is going on. I can’t assume they know anything at all. This will force me to look at each of the statements in detail which will provide me the opportunity to see things in a new way.
Counterfactual Mindset (via part 2)
Conjuring up what might have been gives a powerful boost to creativity.
Markman et al. (2007) found that using counterfactuals (what might have happened but didn’t) sometimes doubled people’s creativity. But counterfactuals work best if they are tailored to the target problem:
- Analytical problems are best tackled with a subtractive mind-set: thinking about what could have been taken away from the situation.
- Expansive problems benefited most from an additive counterfactual mind-set: thinking about what could have been added to the situation.
How to apply to tapping: You can use this approach for things that have happened in the past, things that are happening right now, or things that might (!) happen in the future.
All you need to do is replay in your mind the situation while making a few changes. You can do this in both a subtractive and additive way. You can add resources or people to the image. This would look like imagining the same situation unfolding taking out or adding one or two people. How would things be different with these changes?
When we do this we will see our current issues in a new light, gain insight in to new outcomes, and/or see the root issue in a new way.
This is part 1 of a 4 part series. Check out all 4 parts for more creative ideas.