I have been wanting to write about Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT Tapping for some time now. Today kicks off the 12th annual Tapping World Summit so it’s finally time. For the next 10 days, thought leaders in the world of psychology, medicine, science, and holistic healing will be coming together to share insights and strategies for reducing stress using Emotional Freedom Technique. Before I go any further, I want to say that I am not paid or rewarded for plugging this event, I just love it and my clients love it too! The summit is free, completely online, packed full of amazing in-vivo tapping experiences, and will be attended by over 200,000 people worldwide. Head over to www.thetappingsolution.com to register. Now, let’s talk about tapping.
Let’s start with the basics- what is tapping and why should I use it? Simply put, tapping is a somatic healing process in which you tap along your own body’s acupressure points while speaking about or recalling a distressing event, thought, or feeling. In the process of tapping the sequence of 8 pressure points along your body’s meridians (or energy lines), you are sending calming signals to your amygdala. This means that while you are recalling something stressful, traumatic, or disturbing, your body cannot actually become fully distressed. Should you try to recall a stressful event or feeling without calming your brain simultaneously, you will become flooded or triggered and you will feel worse. I bet that most of us have had this experience before! So, why use tapping? It’s simple. Use tapping to process and release memories, thoughts, and feelings that are no longer serving to you. Put another way, use Emotional Freedom Technique, to help you feel the way you want to feel.
It is important to understand that the amygdala, which is part of the limbic system, is the ‘flight or fight’ center of the brain. If the amygdala detects danger in any form, it goes into action to protect you and keep you safe. And, our brains have a huge ‘negativity basis’ which makes it much easier and instinctive for us to detect hints of darkness than rays of sunshine. This part of the brain is ancient (unlike our prefrontal cortex) and it has served us well over the past couple of hundreds of thousands of years! The amygdala’s response is very important when you are faced with a real danger such as coming face-to-face with a bear while hiking the Appalachian Trail. But, most of our day to day stressors are not, in fact, dangerous. So, when we are having anxiety or panic attacks, our brains are reacting as if we are in danger when we are actually just in discomfort.
It is also important to note that our brains cannot fully distinguish between the recall of a disturbing memory or the actual unfolding event. This is why we feel triggered by reliving past traumas through nightmares, rumination, and flashbacks. The positive side of this reality is that we also gain amazing benefits when recall happy memories. Again, the brain and body’s somatic response to recalling the happiness you felt as you were surrounded by your family on your wedding day is very similar to your somatic response when you are actually walking down the aisle. Our brains are powerful. We just need to know how to use them to our advantage!
EFT is an evidence-based treatment model that clinicians and coaches can use with their clients. But what I like best about Emotional Freedom Technique is that once I teach my clients how to use it, they have that tool accessible to them forever more. Unlike other modalities like massage, acupuncture, or EMDR, my clients can use this skill without me. I love empowering my clients and this is definitely a tool of empowerment.
One study reported in the prominent medical journal, The Journal of Traumatic Stress Disorders & Treatment, concluded that EFT was superior to Exposure Therapy (a traditional therapy modality for anxiety disorders, depression and PTSD) in their study of 60 students with post-traumatic stress disorder in Baghdad City. There is a growing body of evidence about the link between the mind and body and this is just one such report. Needless to say, EFT tapping is an effective way to reduce minor, as well as major, stressors. Are you ready to get started yet?
To tap, you simply need to create some space and time to attend to yourself. Set aside at least 20 minutes and grab a pen and paper. Consider setting aside 20-30 minutes a day for the next two weeks to dedicate to forming a routine of tapping. Start by writing down your most predominant distressing feeling and give it a SUDs (Subjective Units of Distress) rating of 1- 10.
We’ll use the following scenario for our example. You and your spouse have just had another blow-up about money. It’s your third fight this month about your spending habits. The pressure is mounting in your relationship. You are scared, sad, anger and worried about the money, your marriage, your future. You rate your anger at 7/ 10 SUDs, worry at 8/10 SUDs, and fear at 5/10 SUDs. Start with tapping on your anxiety as this is the heaviest feeling. To do this, simply follow the sequence  below.
- Karate Chop (KC)
- Eyebrow (EB)
- Side of Eye (SE)
- Under Eye (UE)
- Chin (CP)
- Collarbone (CB)
- Under Arm (UA)
- Top of Head (TH)
While tapping on the KC point say, aloud, your set-up statement. Your set-up statement may sound like this:
- “Even though I have all this anxiety about my relationship, I deeply and completely love and accept myself”
- “Even though I am worried about this fight, I fully love and accept myself”
- “Even though my marriage is in trouble, I fully accept myself”
- “Even though our finances are a mess, I deeply love myself”
The point is to find a sentence that works for you and then repeat it 3x while tapping on your KC point (Either hand will do, your meridians are bilateral unless they run through your midline- i.e. chin, top of head, and under nose points). A good set-up statement has 2 parts; it acknowledges the issue in plain terms and then it states a gesture of self-love. This can be tough for some people. You may have difficulty saying that you love yourself or accept yourself with these so-called flaws. If that’s the case, my best advice is to say it anyway because this will start the process of change you are seeking. You may feel uncomfortable but that’s okay. Do not mistake distress for danger.
Your first round of tapping will have you tapping on each point 5-8 times while repeating a simplified version of your problem. This is called ‘truth tapping’. You must speak your truth to move through it. You have probably already tried, unsuccessfully, to ‘stay positive’ or ‘find the bright side’ of the situation but you cannot authentically do that until you speak your truth. Do not miss this step! Following our example of marriage and financial issues, your first round or two of tapping may be as simple as you tapping through the sequence while saying things such as:
- “All this anxiety”
- “So much worry about my marriage”
- “I’m overwhelmed by our finances”
- “My finances will never get better”
- “I’m afraid my spouse will leave me”
- “It’s never going to get better”
- “I can’t stick to the budget”
- “We might lose our home”
- “I can’t do anything right”
Now is the time to speak your truth regarding your current situation, as it pertains to your set-up statement. Don’t hold back and don’t be afraid to let out some tears. Remember what we already learned. The process of tapping on your acupressure points is calming down your limbic system. This means that although it’s distressing to acknowledge this pain, you will not be uncontrollably triggered.
Keep tapping like this for a few rounds then pause, check in, and see if anything in your thoughts, feelings, or somatic body has changed. Has the worry lessened; if so, by how much? Write it down. Has worry been replaced by an overwhelming feeling of anger towards your spouse? Maybe this situation is reminding you an ex-partner who cheated you out of your life’s savings or maybe you are recalling a turbulent childhood memory centered around lack of money. Whatever is coming up as you tap is extremely valuable. Tapping gives you the tools to peel back the layers of your pain and see what’s hiding beneath the surface. Maybe your heart rate lowered, raised, or fluttered? Maybe you developed a headache or you notice your belly is churning. Although this may feel uncomfortable, it’s actually a good sign that you are uncovering the root of the problem and therefore, acknowledging and releasing your pain.
Continue tapping through the 8 points- either tap on your worry, or create a new set-up statement if anxiety is no longer where you want to go. Trust yourself. I cannot stress this enough. The biggest mistake that people make with tapping is not trusting their intuition. You cannot go wrong; whatever is arising needs to be addressed. So, keep tapping on your truth and keep tapping through the points until you feel the charge of the situation neutralize. After every 3-5 rounds of tapping, pause, check-in, reflect and rate your feelings. Is the worry still 8/10 SUDs or is it now 6/10 SUDs or maybe worry has been replaced with something else? Keep a written record because by the end of this, you cannot rely on your memory! You will be encouraged as you look back at your journal of where you started and how far you’ve come. Please write it down!
Once you feel your body and mind relax as you release the limiting beliefs about this situation, you are ready to shift toward a more hopeful dialogue. Now you can begin tapping through the 8 points with statements such as:
- “Maybe I am ready to let go of this anger”
- “I wonder if I could see this differently”
- “I am letting go of the pain”
- “I am releasing the anger”
- “I am ready to try something new”
- “I am thankful that my spouse is there for me”
- “I would like control my budget better”
- “I am capable and worthy of financial health”
- “I am worthy of a healthy relationship”
- “It’s going to be okay”
- “I trust myself”
Again, you are speaking your truth and you are giving yourself hope for the future. You want to be authentic and hopeful but stay realistic. Authenticity is the key. For Emotional Freedom Technique to work, you must believe what you are saying. Be realistic while remaining hopeful. Give yourself a glimpse of a different future. When your words shift from “I’ll always be in debt” to “Maybe I can learn fiscal responsibility” to “I am worthy of financial independence” you are allowing yourself to envision a new, different, and improved reality. Tap like this for a few more rounds then pause, check-in, and see how you are feeling. Keep writing your feelings and rating them in your journal. Continue to peel back the layers of your pain and suffering so that you can release these old patterns of beliefs and past traumas. When your body is calm and you worry has reduced to a 2/10 SUDs or below, you can take a break.
Some people experience profound change in a matter of moments; you can read miracle stories all over the internet and I have certainly witnessed them as a EFT practitioner but do not be discouraged if you do not experience a ‘one hit wonder’. For most of us, tapping is a tool that will be used over and over again to release pain and build a healthy mindset.
While working through this example, we touched briefly on a few distressing feelings like anxiety, depression, and anger. But please know that EFT tapping can be used to release pain of any sort. Tapping is regularly used for:
- Weight loss
- Chronic pain
- Body Confidence
- Financial independence
- Smoking cessation
- Conflict Resolution
- Anger Management
- Mindset Shifts
- Inner-child work
- Trauma/ PTSD/ Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Inner peace during difficult political situations
While some of these topics are more easily addressed alone with yourself, other topics are more commonly addressed with a trained professional. If you are suffering from PTSD or a severe trauma, it would be prudent to seek the help of a skilled therapist or counselor who can create a safety net and support system for you as you work through these experiences. As a therapist and coach, I regularly work with clients in this manner. We often tackle the most daunting issues together in the safety of the session. When the client is comfortable with their tapping skills, then they are free to work independently, if they wish. As with any self-help or self-improvement exercise, no book or webinar can take the place of working with a trained professional. Always use your wisdom and judgment when embarking on a healing journey. Your safety is of paramount importance!
If you would like to learn more about me and how I might help you use EFT to create peace and reduce stress in your life, I invite you to connect with me. Head over to my website, www.curiositylifecoaching.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also follow me on Instagram or Facebook @curiositylifecoachingandreiki.
Carrie Mead, MS is a Professional Life Coach, Psychotherapist, and Reiki practitioner based in Maryland. Carrie created Curiosity Life Coaching to help men and women successfully navigate major life transitions such as retirement, divorce, career changes, and loss. Carrie provides guidance, support and empowering exercises to help her clients redefine and enact on their life’s mission following a major life change. Connecting authentically and compassionately forms the basis of all of Carrie’s personal and professional relationships. Carrie holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from McDaniel College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Gettysburg College. Learn more by visiting www.curiositylifecoaching.com