In Podcast #236 I answered four listener questions. Below you will find the audio of all four questions and the transcript for question #4. Please bear in mind that I speak in a slightly more informal fashion than I write, which you will notice in the transcript below. The transcript has been edited slightly for clarity. If you have a question you would like answered in a future podcast please let me know.
Question: I would like to know whether it is best to talk out loud when you’re tapping or if it’s okay to just focus on the issue, memory, or body sensation without using words? I wonder if whether using words silently or out loud engages a specific part of the brain and whether or not this has a different effect?
Jane in France
This question shows up in lots of ways. Sometimes I would get emails that ask me, “What are the tapping phrases for in certain issues?” As if there are some sort of specific magical phrases for tapping.
We know for tapping to be successful, it’s a combination of two things:
- We are tuning in concentrating on the issue, and
- We are providing stimulus to the tapping points.
That’s where the relief comes from.
The way that we tune in can be different from moment to moment, from person to person. It is possible for me to say words out loud and not have it be a focusing factor. I can say, “this pain in my knee, this pain in my knee, this pain in my knee” and be completely preoccupied with my laundry or the errands I have to run. It doesn’t matter that I’m saying the words out loud.
There are other times where I can be completely focused and engrossed in my knee and not say any words at all, just in the way that I put my attention.
For me, what I think most important is to create concrete details about what we are tapping on. For us to have concrete details we need to give the issue language. As an example, I want you to think about an apple.
As you did that you might have thought of a computer or you might have thought of an apple, like a piece of fruit. What I want you to do is to focus on a piece of fruit if you thought of a computer.
I want you to describe the apple. What does it look like? Does it have a stem? Does it have a leaf? What color is it? Is it red, is it green, is there yellow because it’s still ripening? Is it firm? Is it kind of mushy?
As you tune into it you start to give it specific characteristics as it comes into sharper focus. When we’re tapping, the sharper focus we can bring something in, the more successful the tapping is going to be.
That doesn’t mean we have to have it in sharp focus. It simply means anytime we can get the focus sharper it will allow us to move forward.
There are times when I am tapping with a client and they are just bawling hysterically so I really don’t need to ask them, “Zero to ten, how big is your sadness? Where do you feel it in your body?” That’s not the question I need to ask. It is something that is so consuming and they are so tuned into it in this moment, we just have to tap.
When this happens what we’ll notice is as they tap and the intensity comes down, all of a sudden they will start to having language for it. It’s heaviness in my chest, it’s a burden on my shoulders, it’s tears stuck behind my eyes. As the intensity comes down, the clarity becomes useful because it’s becoming smaller and smaller and it’s not our entire experience.
For me it doesn’t matter if I say the words out loud or I think them internally, what’s important is how specific I’m getting.
For example, if I’m tapping on a pain I’ll ask myself these questions:
- What is the shape of the pain?
- Does it have an epicenter or is it evenly distributed?
- Is it sharp, dull, hot, poky, burning?
- If I were going to paint a picture of this pain what colors would I paint it?
- Is there an epicenter?
- If I pulled it out of my leg and I held it in my hand, how much would the pain weigh?
- If I was going to make a model of this pain so I can show it to second grade class, what materials would I use to demonstrate what it feels like?
None of those questions are diagnostic. It’s just about me focusing in and being really clear about what’s going on. I find that if I’m writing something down on a piece of paper or if I’m saying it out loud, I won’t take shortcuts. I’m going to be specific about what I am saying.
When I teach classes even if people aren’t taking notes and they’re recording it, I have them pretend they’re taking notes and not just by moving their hand like they’re writing, but actually have them make the letters of the notes they would be writing down. Because by forcing ourselves to give words to an experience we’re making it more concrete, and the more concrete we are, the more successful the tapping will be. For me it’s less of an issue of out loud or not. That’s not what the issue is, the issue is whether or not I’m being specific with the words that I’m saying, and as I’m specific with the words it allows me to release and create transformation.