I had heard about EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) quite some time ago. But the skeptic in me thought this was simply some pseudo-healing therapy, just a placebo pill for the gullible. How could tapping on certain points on your body release emotions stuck in your mind and body? However, I must admit how very wrong I was in my earlier misconception. EFT does work and it has a very scientific basis supporting its efficacy.
About a month ago I was struggling to maintain boundaries with a toxic do-gooder friend. Even though I knew I needed to keep my distance, I was wracked with guilt. After all, she did help but deep down I knew she was helpful because she expected a faithful slave, always at her beck and call It felt bad saying ‘No’. I knew this discomfort about ‘boundary maintenance stemmed from my childhood. Co-dependency was wired into my psychological programming.
After listening to numerous videos about the topic, serendipitously (Oh, I use the word so often in my blogs but that’s how I can describe my healing journey); this EFT video on boundaries opened and mindlessly I began following the tapping routine.
And, surprise, immediately after the tapping process I felt calmer. The thought of her no longer made me feel anxious. It was relief that passeth understanding. Doubt was replaced with amazement. Numerous questions swirled in my head. But how? Even sound healing music or guided meditations haven’t been this effective. I was hooked.
So What is EFT?
Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT is based on Chinese acupuncture. It was by-chance discovered by psychologist Dr. Roger Callahan in 1979. Gary Craig, one of his students refined the system and created a single and easy sequence of the tapping method, now known as EFT.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the body is composed of energy pathways or meridians that connect your cells, organs, thoughts, and emotions. EFT is based on the theory that emotions need to flow freely for our mind-body system to work optimally. If for some reason, we have to repress our emotions and not feel our feelings they get stuck. This causes blockages in our ultra-sensitive electromagnetic energy system of the body.
Blocked Emotions and Dis-ease
Moreover, consistent and longterm stifling of emotional energy ultimately leads to dis-ease. Our minds and bodies are one complex interconnected system but modern medicine still does not acknowledge this substantiated fact. Treatment modalities still focus on the symptoms rather than getting to the root cause i.e unmet needs, unsafe environment, and invalidated feelings, which causes our autonomic nervous system to become hyper-aroused. When these negative feelings or rather difficult feelings have no release over a long period it affects our mind and body.
Those of us who have lived through Adverse Childhood Experiences have a shitload of repressed emotions. And this invariably is the reason many of us suffer various chronic illnesses. My ACEs’ legacy is scoliosis.
EFT works as a bridge connecting the mind and body. There are two parts to EFT: the words and the tapping. You tap on the acupressure points while expressing the emotions/feelings you are feeling. This seemingly silly procedure actually helps release the energetic blockages in our system and allows the free-flowing of those blocked, trapped suppressed, and unfelt emotions.
How Exactly Does EFT Work?
Understanding The Basics
Now with the internet, you can access EFT tapping techniques on youtube and also download free e-books. I have found Brad Yates ( big catalog for various emotional aliments plus they short), Dawson Church, and Nick Ortner quite helpful
You can learn the basics by watching these videos. While most of them address a global issue (unable to set boundaries, low self-esteem, etc). However, to really heal the problem of lack of boundaries you need to get to the specifics – the root cause of the problem. For me, it was having a violent father and passive-aggressive grandmother, then being sexually abused, and other incidents in school.
Now, once we hone in on the specific event/person that was the problem, different aspects of the problems will arise, they could be conflicting meta-emotions or could be inter-connected issues related to the problem. Aspects are the various details or hidden-pieces of an issue.
For EFT To be effective you have to be able to hone in on your negative/painful feelings without feeling ashamed. You need to up your emotional literacy and tune in on your body’s felt sense (that tightness in your neck, stomach-churning)
One Problem Leads to the Unravelling of Another Repressed Problem
Furthermore, as as an EFT session unfolds, several aspects show up and issues shift in a daisy chain fashion. The resolution of a problem seems to call to mind another problem, offering the individual a rapid healing transit through a long chain of problems. An expert EFT practitioner can unfold and uncover the layers of buried emotional debris in a quick free-flowing fashion. In a short time, all those hidden skeletons will come tumbling out.
Those blocks that had kept you stuck will dissipate and your hair-trigger reactivity will ease.
One great thing about EFT is the generalization effect. One does not need to deal with each and every specific issue. Once we are able to tap out the emotional charge of only 5 to 8 major problems, the rest of those related to the issue disappears without much ado.
EFT and Healing Trauma – Tell the Story and Movie Technique
I have found EFT very effective in healing my childhood trauma. The process of tapping not just calms but also slowly brings to the surface those long-forgotten memories. EFT has two very effective techniques to help heal traumatic memories – 1) Tell the Story and 2) Movie Technique
In Tell the Story the person does just that, tells a story of what happened – out loud – in the same way as you’d tell a friend what happened. In Movie Technique, you re-visualize the events as they happened while giving your experience a movie title.
The main difference? The movie is done silently in their head, Tell the Story, as the terms indicate, is told out loud. This usually requires an EFT therapist to help you move through traumatic experiences.
In my case, I have been writing and sharing my trauma for the past 4 years. So I have already told the story and seen the movie of my life many times. All I needed was tapping the stuck emotions out of my physio-energetic system. And tapping has been the magic potion I was so desperately looking for.
Personal Freedom Procedure
The Personal Peace Procedure entails listing every specific troublesome event in your life and systematically using EFT to tap away the emotional impact of these events. With due diligence, you remove every negative tree from your emotional forest and, in so doing, remove significant sources of both emotional and physical ailments. A byproduct of this practice is the feeling of peace within ourselves. This improves our work and home relationships,
EFT’s effectiveness in working with trauma is extensive. Whilst it can bring immediate relief from traumatic memories, it is also a gentle tool for revealing the many layers and aspects that may be connected to the trauma. Nonetheless, we can reduce the emotional charge by working through our pain systematically and patiently.
The Tapping Technique
The first step in EFT is identifying an issue that you want to resolve with EFT. Tune in to how you feel. -you get a greater release the more aware you are of your visceral feelings.
Check out your SUD score (subjective unit of distress), on a scale of 1-10. Just to know how you feel before and after tapping, if you feel 0 intensity towards the issue – it means problem solved.
The Set-up Point
There are two points that people commonly use for Setup Point. Either the Karate Chop point or the Sore Point. (see above figure). One is allowed to be flexible in choosing whichever point. Just go with what feels right.
Next plan your set-up phrase with leeway for Psychological Reversal, a situation therapists call resistance, secondary gain, self-sabotage.
The Setup is designed to preclude the possibility of reversal. In other words, doing the Setup will help to clear any reversls that might exist, without you having to take the time to find out if they do or not.
“Even though I feel fearful about setting boundaries, I deeply love and accept myself” (Repeat 3 times while tapping the Karate Chop Point or rubbing the Sore Spot).
You don’t necessarily need to follow rigid scripts or any particular tapping sequence. Just say out loud what you’re feeling, or say the thoughts you’re thinking in your head as you tap through the points. If something is bothering you, just tune in and say that internal dialogue aloud as you tap. The words aren’t really that important to get “right”. They are simply used to connect to the emotions you are feeling to your body sensations.
Order of Tapping Points
- Karate Chop (KC) – Small Intestine Meridian or Sore Spot – Kidney Meridian
- Top of the Head (TH) – Crown Chakra
- Beginning of the Eyebrow (EB) – Bladder Meridian
- Side of the Eye (SE) – Gall Bladder Meridian
- Under the Eye (UE) – Stomach Meridian
- Under the Nose (UN) – Governing Vessel Meridian
- Chin Point (CH) – Central Meridian
- Collarbone (CB) – Kidney Meridian
- Under the Arm (UA) – Spleen Meridian
There are additional tapping points – ribs (Liver Meridian) helps release anger. I include it in my tapping sequence. At the end of the tapping round include thumping on the thymus point – Seat of the Immune System helps “anchor in” the new balance and alignment throughout your body. Even starting your day with a thymus thump helps get your system going.
Tapping about 7 times on each point in a sequence while continually saying the Reminder Phrase (feeling fearful) constitutes one round of EFT. You may tap as many rounds as needed to lower the intensity.
When through with the tapping cycle, sit within yourself, and assess your symptom again. The tapping does not completely eradicate the problem but gradually does lessen it bit by bit until it gets resolved within yourself.
Tail-Enders – The Reason Why Positive Affirmations Don’t Work
We are saturated with the idea that all we need is positive affirmations to change our life And we can keep repeating and tapping our way to a better life. But this is not true because as EFT instructor, Dawson Church, explains ‘when we say an affirmation, our brains sometimes create a knee-jerk reaction or tail-ender without us even realizing it.
We were so programmed to believe only negative things happening to us that when we say positive things we wish for we subconsciously block the process. EFT has a wonderful way to bypass our mental blocks using tail-enders in our tapping. Check out this great example here.
Another way of easing into change is to reframe how we look at the situation. Reframes are a simplification of the EFT Tapping Setup statement to promote the mental process of redirecting one’s way of looking at a specific issue.
The first round usually starts off with the negative emotional feeling, I fear setting boundaries and then gradually moves to maybe I am not feeling fearful and wind up the tapping with I am not feeling fearful about setting boundaries, they can just go to hell for all I care.
Expressing Our True Feelings
Tell the truth when you tap, you’re not being negative, you’re not affirming the negative, the negative won’t stay forever. And if you have any of these fears when you go to tap on something, tap on these beliefs first. Earlier programed beliefs like we are not good-enough can stop us from facing the real issue that our caregivers did not really love us.
There really is no such thing as a negative emotion, just emotions that are difficult to feel. Once you start to acknowledge how you feel and allow yourself to feel it, the emotion will have done its job and won’t get stuck in your body or mind as a dis-ease. What we don’t feel, we act out or in. Feeling our feelings is one of the most important things we can do to improve our life and health.
Truly expressing ourselves is a huge relief and relieves a lot of pressure. Lying to yourself or others is absolutely exhausting.
If a particular EFT statement seems too impossible or too threatening or too out of character to you, then create a statement that approaches your goal in small increments, in a step-by-step fashion.
9 Gamut Procedure
The 9 Gamut Procedure ‘fine-tunes’ the brain and it does so via some eye movements and some humming and counting.
1) Close your eyes
2) Open your eyes
3) Look hard down to your right
4) Look hard down to your left
5) Move your eyes in a clockwise circle
6) Move your eyes in an anti-clockwise circle
7) Hum a few seconds of any song (“Happy Birthday” works well)
8) Now count out loud (1-2-3-4-5)
9) Hum a few seconds again
During the 10-second 9 Gamut Procedure, the left and right side of the brain is stimulated. By pressing or lightly tapping on the Gamut point residual fight-flight energy is released. Doing this also lowers the resistance to change. This is really necessary to be done between tapping sequences to stop any psychological reversals.
I find doing this better than trying to do deep breathing when I am upset.
Is Therapy Facing a Revolution? Dr. Peta Stapleton TEDxRobina
Why EFT Is So Effective?
First, EFT works on both the mind and body. Most physical and emotional distress stems from not having our needs met and feelings validated. This dysregulates our nervous system. EFT effectively and quickly calms that fight-flight stress response that has been activated. Tapping often engages the subconscious mind and when we relax the conscious parts of our brains, it allows for other things to surface. Particularly those emotions, we had to suppress so as not to anger or displease our caregivers.
Secondly, EFT allows us the freedom to feel emotions without any shame, anger, guilt, or any other barrier that prevents us from fully feeling. We don’t need to suppress things as in usual talk-therapy. We simply start with how we are presently feeling and then work our way through the myriad difficult emotions that we had to repress.
Word of caution though, you need to go slowly, don’t overdo, thinking you can become well overnight. It takes time to release decades of suppressed emotions. You need to gradually increase your window of tolerance, for feeling difficult emotions and body sensations.
Nevertheless, once you begin using EFT, you will find yourself instinctively tapping away whenever you feel stressed and anxious. Better still start your day tapping into better possibilities who know what will unfold when you don’t have to deal with stuck emotions.
Note: People who have emotional or physical health conditions should consult a qualified health professional before using any health procedure, including EFT.
Image Source: Pexels
Adventures in EFT: The Essential Field Guide to Emotional Freedom Techniques – Silvia Hartman
Saying Yes to Change: Essential Wisdom for Your Journey – Joan Borysenko and Gordon Dveirin.