By Dr. Patricia Carrington, EFT Master
"I feel better now. It's okay." that person says as they prepare to leave your office (or home) with a word of thanks for your help. They have brought their stress level down from an initial 10 (on the 0 to 10 intensity scale) to a much more desirable number such as a 4, or perhaps a 3, after doing several rounds of EFT. They feel they "don't need any more".
What do we do now? We have obviously been helpful to this person and may even have pulled them out of an emotional crisis by leading them through EFT. But –– should they be left on their own to go off thinking that all is fine now, that everything is handled? Or should they be advised to keep tapping for this issue, either now, or by resuming the tapping later?
In my opinion the answer is that they should be advised to continue tapping, especially if this was a very troubling issue to begin with. If the person's SUDS (distress) level has not yet come down to a 2 or below, preferably to a 1 or a 0, on the intensity scale, the issue has not yet be cleared. Also, without continuing to tap at this point, they are not reaping anything like the benefits they could from EFT.
I was faced with this problem just this week when a young woman consulted me for an intense fear she had about swimming at night in the outdoor pool of her new apartment building. She had no fear at all of swimming there in the daytime, and she is an excellent swimmer.
When "Leila" moved into her new apartment, she was thrilled to discover the excellent pool supplied for tenants. For the first few evenings she used it at night after work and found that a delightful experience. Quiet, peaceful, just her own self swimming alone with the lights reflecting almost magically in the water that gently swirled about her, she felt exhilarated.
But the following week when she went down to the pool to take an evening swim, it seemed very different. She described her experience at that time as being "strange, sort of spooky, and unsafe". She said it was the way one would feel if there were ghosts around, although she does not believe in ghosts. There was something very unsettling to her about this experience.
After that she found that she could not swim there without experiencing so much anxiety that she would have to leave abruptly in the middle of the swim session. It was all right if there were other people swimming in the pool too, or if her husband brought his laptop down to the pool to work as she swam. It was being alone at night in the pool that, in her words, "freaked her out".
When I asked whether any problems had arisen around the pool since those first two successful swims, she couldn't think of any. However, she volunteered the information that her husband had suggested to her that a certain television show which she had been watching might be implicated in this. In the show, a mass murderer had dumped body parts into an empty swimming pool after a serial murder. She had not experienced any particular anxiety when watching the show, but on thinking about it it now she said it might be possible that her fear had started then, although that didn't seem to make sense to her.
I explained that sometimes things can be frightening which you don't even realize consciously frighten you, and that it can be a good idea in such an event to tap on the fear as though you were identifying correctly what happened. At the least, it does no harm.
Leila agreed to do this and so we devised the following EFT Choices statement for her
to tap on:
"Even though the murderer dumped body parts in that pool in the TV show, I choose to feel as safe and peaceful in my pool as I did that first night."
Here we were using the peacefulness of the first night to serve as what I call an "EFT Resource State", which is a memory in one's own life that illustrates exactly the attitude that you would like to have when in the problem situation.
Leila tapped on this statement for one round of EFT and said that she felt a little bit better. However, she still did not see the TV show as having any relationship to her fear, although tapping on the TV show was clearly beginning to have an effect. She had come down from an initial stress level of 5 (just thinking about the pool in my office) to a 3 or 4.
We reviewed her EFT statement at that point to see whether it needed alteration, and again she mentioned the "spooky feeling", as though ghosts were there, and said that feeling was still somewhat with her as she thought about the swimming. We then devised this new EFT statement:
"Even though it feels like ghosts were there, I choose to let the ghosts stay in that TV show where they belong." We were making a distinction between the reality pool and the one in the movie. Tapping on this new statement brought her distress level down even further, although she still did not connect the fear with the movie, even though tapping on it was clearly doing good. She had now come down to under a 3 and then she said those well-known words "I feel better. It's okay now."
I didn't let it go at that however. I could have let her leave having this much relief, but I was afraid that when she got back to the actual pool that her fear might well resurface again. There was more work to be done, but it was on a different level and from a different angle.
When anxiety or another distressing emotion has been largely cleared from an issue by using EFT, the most healing thing we can do is to substitute a positive feeling for the negative one that we experienced before. Leila had been experiencing severe anxiety in the pool. She had brought that anxiety down to a tolerable level and so was ready to quit, but I didn't allow her to do this. Instead, I suggested that we "go for the jackpot" and substitute a really pleasant feeling for the anxious one. The statement we then came up with was:
"Even though I’ve been scared in the pool at night, I choose to really enjoy it now like I did the first night."
Tapping on this statement had a remarkably beneficial effect. In fact, it cleared the issue, her stress level went to a zero. She was now able to go home, swim pleasantly in the pool at night, and enjoy it.
Leila's session illustrates two important points.
The first is that a person can tap on a possible cause of a problem which they are not certain is the real cause and yet get a remarkably good effect. It doesn't hurt to do the tapping "on spec" as it were, if it's targeting the wrong issue then it just won't have a good effect, but if it's correct and the person is simply not conscious of the connection, it can be extremely healing anyway as it was in this case.
The other point is that it is often all too easy to think that a person has cleared their fear because they say that they feel "much better" and decide to stop doing EFT. What is needed to reinforce the gains made is to substitute a positive resource state in place of the anxiety state. Positive feelings have a way of wiping out the negative much more effectively than just plain limiting of the negative. This is really the basis of the Choices method and the philosophy behind it.
I advise you not to let anyone stop tapping (if you have any say in the matter) before they have accessed a positive resource state and changed the negative emotion into one that is hopefully enjoyable, or at the least comforting. There is far more value to be gained from EFT if you follow this simple rule.