This article was written while powered by a few glasses of iced coffee bought by Frankie Collins of Seattle, WA . Thanks Frankie!
Is it necessary to have the intention of releasing or letting go a negative thought, feeling, or physical pain while tapping? I am trying to understand why fretting, stewing, or worrying about an issue consciously doesn’t dissolve the negative emotions, but tapping while expressing it does.
photo by CARF Brazil
There are three distinct concepts relevant to the questions you are asking. When you understand all three and how they fit together it is easier to understand how Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) works. The three concepts are tuning in, tapping, and intention.
By getting a handle on these, it is easy to understand how the thoughts and emotions related to our past experience affect the present, and how EFT affects them.
We create models of the world in our minds to help us predict how the world works. By having these models we don’t have to analyze how everything in our experience works. For example, when a server places a glass of ice water in front of me at a café I assume the water is going to be cold. I have experienced lots of glasses of water. When I see ice cubes present I assume the water is cold. As I bring the glass to my mouth I don’t worry about burning my tongue. Because of the models I hold about water, ice, and cafés I don’t give the water much thought.
Is it possible that the water is going to be lukewarm? Sure, but that is only disappointing, not dangerous. Is it possible that the water is scalding hot? It is possible, but so highly unlikely that I don’t have to worry about it.
The models I hold of the world save me time. By knowing what not to spent time and energy thinking, I can concentrate on what needs my attention.
But there is a flaw in this system.
It is possible that I hold inaccurate or incomplete models of a situation.
Let’s pretend that as I am writing this, a mouse runs by where I am sitting. Without stopping to think about it I react by I jumping up on the table and screaming like a small child. In this scenario I haven’t given what has happened much thought. I just apply the model I have. In this case my model tells me that mice are terrifying and dangerous creatures, I am unsafe, and I need to run for my life.
The model has done its job. My model of mice was applied to the current experience and I acted without having to think. The issue is that mice aren’t deadly creatures. In this case the model has not served me.
Now that we understand how models of information work, lets take a look at how we use EFT to affect these models.
If I were to use EFT to work on my fear of mice, the first step would be to into that fear. I could just imagine a mouse is running under my chair and my heart would start to race. When I tune into an issue, I am accessing a model of information. I think, “mouse under my chair,” and the model is applied. This is what we do when we are worrying about an issue. We are just accessing the models we hold but we aren’t making any changes to the model itself. When we access that same model in the future the same feelings will result.
The next step in EFT is to start tapping on the issue. We know from the theory of EFT when we are thinking a thought that is not in line with health and wellbeing, the energy system of the body is in some way out of balance or disrupted. Every time we apply an inaccurate model to a scenario we are creating this state of energetic imbalance. By tapping we bring the system back to balance. This is the reason we feel better about after tapping.
The amazing part of EFT is that as well as bringing the system back into balance in the moment, we are changing the model by replacing the inaccurate information with information of health and well-being.
By changing the model, the next time it is referenced, I respond more appropriately. In our example:
- I think about my fear of mice.
- I use EFT to bring my system back to the balance which is its natural state.
- As the system returns to balance the model is corrected.
- The next time I see a mouse I apply the updated model and am not terrified.
EFT is a mechanical process. Tapping while you are tuned into a model will correct some or all of the inaccurate parts of that model. Since EFT is a mechanical process, if you do the steps correctly improvement will result.
This brings us to the third part of the question. How is intention involved in the healing process with EFT? As we have just shown, if the protocol is applied correctly, it doesn’t matter if you have the intention for release. I have done EFT with a number of skeptical people. They didn’t believe EFT was going to work and it did. But it did so because they fully engaged in the process. This is not a small point.
If you do not have the intention for release and health it is more likely that you will not use the protocol correctly. Remember that the words we use are not magic. The words help us to tune into an issue, but it is possible to say words, “this fear of mice…this fear of mice..this fear of mice” and to be thinking about what is on TV tonight and not mice. Even though it looks like I am doing EFT correctly, I will not make progress.
So intention is not a prerequisite for EFT to work, but I encourage all my clients to hold the intention of moving towards health and wellbeing because it helps them to stay focused and on-task.
A few thoughts to keep in mind:
- We hold models of how the world works to make the world easier to navigate.
- It is possible to have inaccurate or incomplete models of the world.
- Simply activating these models will not change them.
- If we tune into our inaccurate or incomplete models of the world while tapping we can correct those models.
- Intention is not a requirement for EFT to work but it helps us to use the protocol correctly.