The Power of Backing Up in EFT

By Dr. Patricia Carrington

In this article, I want to talk about a strategy I find particularly valuable when conducting EFT sessions with clients, and also when using EFT simply for myself.  I call it, for want of a better name, "backing up in EFT", but there may be other designations that would be even more fitting (I'm open to suggestions!)

This is a maneuver in which we address a difficulty or so-called "resistance" in EFT by treating it as a valuable clue, which is likely to lead us to the next important aspect that needs


Gary Craig's Introduction:

This insightful message by EFT Master Dr. Patricia Carrington could just as easily be titled "Turning a Marginal EFT Session into a Great One!"  If you listen closely to the client they will often lead you to an important core issue that, once EFT has been applied, results in a new level of emotional freedom.

Examples might be when the client casually says things like, "I don't like to be touched" OR "It's hard to swallow when I'm around Jane" OR "I feel queasy in movie theatres."  These statements may seem to have nothing to do with the subject of your current session but they often represent the missing instrument that will turn that session into a creative symphony.

Other examples have to do with blocks that seem to be in the way of clearing an issue.  Often if we pause on our current approach and "back up" to address the block we will often find ourselves in the middle of one or more important core issues.  Pat refers to the procedure for discovering these gems as "backing up" and points to it in her message with the following words….

"The moral of all this is that what we may consider at the time to be merely a negative block or resistance to EFT, to be taken out of the way as quickly as possible, may actually contain a hidden treasure –– and the way to find this treasure is to back up and make the block ITSELF the focus of the tapping."

to be addressed.  You've seen Gary Craig do this hundreds of times (it may well be thousands of times) on his tapes or in person, and many of you have picked up this technique from watching him and use it when working with your clients.  I notice however that this extremely valuable maneuver is not as widely used by EFT-oriented therapists as it really should be.  This is one reason I want to call it to your attention here.

Another reason is the fact that it's so easy to forget to back up and address an underlying issue concealed within a block or resistance, when doing EFT with one's self.  I find that I have to remind myself to do so in a very systematic way.  However, when I do, it always pays off beautifully. 

Actually, the backing up process is not only useful for clearing away obstacles and making EFT flow more easily, but it can be a gold mine of information.  A core issue hidden under a reluctance to proceed with an EFT session, or beneath a fear of talking about a certain subject, or within discouragement about EFT, or hidden behind a failure to do EFT "homework" etc., can be a signal to us that an area important to the person, frequently one which conceals a core issue, is begging to be addressed.

Let me give you some examples so that you will see what I mean. 

"Laura", my client, recently indicated near the end of an EFT session that while she was willing to work further on a specific issue, she responded to proceeding as though it was a very tiring and oppressive thing to undertake.  She felt weary just contemplating "all the work that will need to be done on this" even though she had made some outstanding progress with this issue during this session.

I suggested, "Let's back up and address your feelings of 'heaviness and darkness' (her own words) about applying EFT to this issue."

The set-up phrase which she formulated, with some help from me, was, "Even though handling this issue feels dark and heavy, I choose to have this reaction lead me to a new freedom."

Although this was clearly a paradoxical statement (I had suggested the last part of the statement, her "Choice", in order to provide a direct contrast to her negative statement) it was sufficiently provocative (and thereby served to shake up her way of looking at this) so that as she tapped on it, a feeling of lightness and hope began to emerge in her.  The statement served to reframe the situation for her, and she began to feel more and more at ease with the formerly "oppressive" task before her.

After several rounds of tapping, the darkness and heaviness had receded considerably. Then, she remembered her father's tendency to approach most tasks rather grimly, even those which were for his own welfare and even those which he really wanted to pursue.  She had a distinct memory of her father, an extremely staid and "morally correct" man from New England, telling her that she should always devote herself "unstintingly" to any task she undertook.

As she reported this, she commented that maybe he had been expressing only his Puritan heritage and wasn't trying to harness her with a terribly onerous task, but that to her as a little girl, his remarks came across as meaning, "If you want to a get something done, whether it's homework or a household task or changing your habits or whatever, you must expect long hard arduous work." 

So despite the fact that, today, she agrees that personal growth can often be accompanied by joy and satisfaction and creativity, Laura has never viewed it as such.  Now however, after we had backed up and used the resistance she had felt as the target of her tapping, an extremely productive EFT session emerged.  Laura worked on this issue using the new EFT phrase:

"Even though Dad said change always involves hard work, I choose to see change as an adventure which I can pursue any way I want."

The inclusion of the phrase "any way I want" in this wording was a key for Laura.  It encouraged her to endorse her own way of going about personal change instead of adopting the rather grim approach dictated by the concepts of her father.

After a round or two of tapping on this new phrase, she said, "You know, it may have worked for Dad to approach things this way — I guess that was pretty much his character — but it's not mine!"  At that point she was able to endorse her own EFT Choice even more fully.  She left the session taking with her a Choices Card to use for homework, on which I had written out this set-up phrase for her (for description of the use of Choices cards in EFT, see Chapter 5 of my Choices Manual).

Working with this statement at home proved to have a powerful effect on Laura.  Subsequently, not only her EFT sessions, but her life in general took a new turn because of it.  It has set her free to move ahead on many fronts.

Another way, in which this backing up procedure can be extremely valuable in uncovering hidden aspects of an issue, is when a person finds themselves at a standstill with respect to knowing WHY they are experiencing a particular reaction.  This is often the case with feelings of “being undeserving”.  Most people simply don't know why they feel that they don't deserve something — they just feel strongly that they DON'T.  So no matter how much a person taps, if they feel they don't deserve the good that might come from changing their behavior, they will usually block that change (although of course not consciously).

Recently one of my clients, "Emily", asked to tap on the fact that she felt she didn't deserve to have a "wonderful artistic business which supports me and my family and gives me all the freedom that I want" –– an ideal of hers which seemed just too good to be attainable.

When we started work on this issue, the EFT set-up phrase that Emily used was:

"Even though I feel I don't deserve this wonderful artistic business, I choose to honor my right to be happy."

After two rounds of tapping on this, her sense of being “undeserving” had come down from an initial rating of "8" (on a zero to 10 point scale of being “undeserving”) to a "2", but she still looked distinctly unhappy when she thought about the artistic business she so longed for.  This alerted me to the fact that there might be a hidden aspect to all of this which we needed to address FIRST in order to make real progress.  So, I suggested that we back up and seek to discover the origin of her feelings of being undeserving.

In answer to my question about this she could think of absolutely no reason why she should feel that she didn't deserve happiness. I have noticed that people often have difficulty with deservedness issues because this emotion frequently originates very early in life.  A young child may infer that they are "undeserving" because of something that happened to them, or some remark addressed at them, etc., and it is often hard to connect the event that created it (many times these are repeated events) with the feeling of being undeserving itself.

When we backed up, Emily's EFT homework (we were now at the end of the session) was to tap at home on,

"Even though I don't know WHY I feel I don't deserve this, I choose to allow myself to know why."

Her instructions were to tap on this issue using her Choices card, and during the rest of the day to just notice (but never forcefully seek) any thoughts that might pop into her mind concerning this issue. Perhaps, I suggested, some answers might even begin to come to her in dreams, or in daydreams, or in fleeting thoughts.

At the next session, she reported that an interesting thought had come to her, quite unbidden, while riding on her stationery bike.  She remembered how her little sister had had a very hard time with school work, while she herself just whizzed through her work, usually coming out at the top of her class. Watching her sister struggle, and knowing how extraordinarily easy it was for her to do well in school, had made her feel very uneasy, even guilty.

"I hardly had to lift a finger to do well in school." she said.  Then came the insight –– she now remembered how often she felt that she didn't deserve the good grades and praise from the teachers that she was getting because she hadn't worked hard to get it. It almost seemed fake; while her little sister was working terribly hard and got much poorer grades!

This was a revelation for Emily, and opened up a whole new avenue for her therapy.  And, this occurred because a roadblock to therapy was addressed and utilized when it first occurred; we had simply backed up and addressed the issue of her being unable to accept the good things that EFT might bring her.

The moral of all this is that what we may consider at the time to be merely a negative block or resistance to EFT, to be taken out of the way as quickly as possible, may actually contain a hidden treasure. The way to find this treasure is to back up and make the block ITSELF the focus of the tapping.

If we do that — as the old Wild West prospector's saying goes — "There's gold in them thar hills!"

EFT Master, Dr. Patricia Carrington

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