Seek Aspects Hidden in the Future with EFT

wedding-aisle-SMImagine the following. You have worked with a person, or yourself, using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) on a difficult issue. Finally, you are down to a 1 or a 0 on the 0-10 point SUDS scale of distress. You are immensely relieved. It looks as though you’re done. You may be. However, consider this

NLP Future Pacing


If you decide to “future-pace” seriously, you may discover some new aspects that can make the difference between an outcome that’s good and one that’s great. “Future-pacing” is a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) term defining the systematic last step in its protocol. When a session is just about finished, the NLP practitioner routinely asks the client to imagine they are in a future scene embodying the problem being worked on. The scene is to be as specific as possible. The person confronts the troublesome situation in his or her imagination, and only if the client is fine while imagining the future with respect to the situation, can the treatment be considered successful.

Many of you may do something similar already, but there is a difference between simply asking about the person’s (or your own) expected future response, and really pushing to test the limits on this. Pushing, when you future-pace, is what can bring out some hidden aspects of the problem at hand and make your work more effective. Here’s an example:

“Rachel,” a former client of mine, had phoned to tell me she was getting married in two weeks. Not unexpectedly, her classically controlling mom was causing last minute difficulties for her. Here was the scenario.

The wedding couple had chosen to have a small, simple wedding, with just close friends, and family. Rachel’s mom, on the other hand — the admitted queen of her circle of acquaintances and typically adored for her “wonderful personality” —  had from the start a lavish display in mind. Rachel and her fiancé, Jim, did win out on the size of the wedding, but this meant that the mother had to explain the situation to many of her friends. She began vociferously complaining (two weeks before the wedding) that many of her friends were extremely angry with her for “slighting them.” When several of Rachel and Jim’s good friends cancelled their trip to the wedding because of travel difficulties, the mother wanted to replace the cancellations with some of her friends, thereby altering the agreed upon ratio of parents’ friends to couple’s friends. There were many recriminations and much martyrdom on the mother’s part about this.

Rachel, who had always responded extremely well to EFT, began to tap on this with my help and soon brought her stress rating very acceptably down so that when she remembered the troubling phone call and the accusations her mother had made to her, she was at only a 2 SUDS. She then tapped on:

Even though I feel I am wrong when she does this, I choose to feel happy with who I am and what I choose.” (Her own selection of wording)

Rachel had achieved a very useful feeling that no matter what her mother did, Rachel was still “who she is” — and truly feeling it from within. Finally, when she was down to a 0 on the stress rating for this issue, she said, “I realize that her opinions don’t really matterin the future she’ll be sort of irrelevant to my life.”

This was a good outcome, right? Well yes, but there actually were some hidden aspects in her imagery of this wedding and these were not yet evident. Only after my pushing were they revealed. Here’s how:

I asked Rachel how she NOW felt about the upcoming wedding with respect to her mother’s participation. Her answer was, “Oh, as good as I can, considering Mom. I can’t change her.”

This was an acceptable statement but it did not seem intuitively to be good enough to fit the bill. Where were the “goodies” that people begin to envision when they’re completely clear on an event? There was no substantially positive feeling here. Therefore, I pushed further.

“Tell me exactly how you envision her acting on the day of the wedding,” I asked. “Give me a scene that may be in the back of your mind.”

She thought about that for a moment, and then came up with, “Well, I can imagine her crying very loudly during the ceremony.”

Me — “Give me the actual scene as you envision it. How loudly?  Where is she when she is crying? Is it when you two break the glass?” (This is the important last step in a Jewish wedding)

Rachel — “Uhno, not exactly, I can see her walking down the aisle with me and suddenly crying.”

Me –“Loud enough for everyone to hear?” (Her mother is an actor of the first order.)

Rachel — “Yes! She’s crying very loudly and trying to take all the attention from me even though it’s my wedding. You know she  bought a gorgeous dress, what I call a prom gown, with sparkles all over it, for the occasion.”

Me — “What is your gown like?”

Rachel — “Well, I really like it. It’s so me. Very simple, straight lines, tight lace covering the satin.”

I could imagine Rachel in that dress, simple but elegant, and as usual, graceful and completely genuine.

Me — “Your dress sounds perfect for you. But in the scene, your Mom is into her best act. Is she without a tissue and someone has to rush up and give her one?”

Rachel laughs — “Exactly! You know Mom! It sounds so real. What shall I tap on next?”

We worked together on the wording for the next step in EFT. It turned out to be:

Even though she may put on her tragic act, I choose to be deeply happy.”

Because we had discussed this before we arrived at the statement and she had imagined it vividly and had even been able to laugh about her mother’s behavior, Rachel was already down to a 4 from the 9 she had experienced when she started tapping, and now she quickly tapped her distress down to a 0.

This particular future-oriented aspect had been handled. But — the wheel had been greased! Rachel’s mind was still future-oriented mode, so she picked up another aspect immediately. This one was even more distressing to her, as she thought about it, than the original problem. In fact, it scored a “high 10” on the distress scale.

Rachel and Jim were to travel to her mother’s hometown for the wedding, arriving there four days early. They felt it imperative that they not stay at her parents’ home, but chose to stay by themselves during this preparatory period. They would be with her mother almost all day every day as they finalized plans, but both felt that they needed some breathing space from her ‘royal’ presence and anticipated a barrage of criticisms.

Rachel realized that she was actually afraid of telling her mother about this decision of theirs and had been putting off doing so. She was afraid her mother would “go to pieces,” and “collapse.”

I felt this was unlikely since her mom was preparing to be a star performer at the wedding, one with a sparkling “prom dress,” but nonetheless I had to honor Rachel’s strong fear about this and I remembered her history of guilt whenever she had differed from her mother in any respect. That feeling was almost totally past history, but nevertheless it could well be surfacing at this crucial time when she was really separating from her mother. I asked her about the possibility of guilt feelings towards her mother if she were to tell her this.

She answered in the affirmative. “Yep, I feel I shouldn’t do it. Good daughters don’t do things like that, they want to be with their family at such a time.”

We clearly had more tapping to do.

Even though I feel guilty at not being the devoted daughter, I choose to honor my true needs at this time,” was the Set-Up phrase she tapped on.

Two rounds of doing the Choices Trio (Chapter 3 in the Choices Manual) and she had come down to a stress level of 5. Good enough, except that she seemed to stick there. Was there still another aspect hiding beneath this one? Her concerns about the future seemed to be central to her equanimity during an otherwise joyful occasion.

“Yes, there is something else,” she answered. “I feel much better about the guilt, but I hate the thought of her yelling at me and blaming me over this issue. I’mI’m afraid of her.”

So this time she tapped for the fear. “Even though I’m scared of her reaction, I choose to honor my own needs at this time.”

Rachel clearly had needed to neutralize one more issue before her wedding, and this opportunity had emerged from the future-pacing. She accordingly scheduled an additional phone session with me, which turned out to be devoted largely to cleaning up some lingering childhood issues relating to independence, functioning on her own, and becoming a “real” person separate from her mother — obviously things that were vital at this important juncture of her life.

The point of this anecdote is that if I had not pushed Rachel into imagining vivid scenes of her future wedding (Gary Craig’s mental movie technique) we would not have unearthed those crucial aspects of her relationship with her mother. We could have closed the door after our first EFT success, the clearing of the issue regarding her mother blaming her for not making the vacated wedding invitations available to her mother’s friends, but then we would have missed an opportunity to make a significant difference in Rachel’s future life.

The manner in which I make sure to handle such possibilities is to make it a rule for myself to always push for the hidden aspects that may lie in the future. If they’re not there, they’re not there, no harm done. But if they are, working on them can be an invaluable strategy.

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