Using EFT to Create Desirable Behaviors

By Dr. Patricia Carrington

Smiling Woman Using EFT to Create Desirable BehaviorsIn addition to its use for handling specific problems (by far its most common use) EFT can be extremely effective in helping you rid yourself of repetitive behaviors that don’t serve you well and replacing them with new behaviors that you’d love to have.

In essence, you create these new desirable ways of acting into habits, so that without even thinking of what you are doing you just naturally find yourself doing the things you want to do.  Actually, the only way to change behavior that you don’t want is to replace self-defeating habits with self-enhancing ones, and this is exactly what EFT can do if you let it.

An example of this is my client “Emily”, who had not addressed a certain annoying tendency of hers in her therapy sessions because she considered it too trivial.  During one of our meetings, however, she spontaneously commented to me that she was “sick and tired” of misplacing her many pairs of reading glasses and repeatedly having to buy replacements at her local pharmacy.

I understood her dilemma only too well because, like so many other people who started using glasses as an adult and therefore were not trained as a child to consider glasses as “part of them,” I too had misplaced my glasses all too frequently, much to my annoyance.

Certainly, this is not the kind of problem that one goes to an EFT practitioner for help in correcting. Emily only mentioned it to me in passing, with an embarrassed laugh. However, I took her seriously, and asked her, “How would you like EFT to take away your tendency to misplace your glasses?”

“What an idea!” she said, and we embarked upon an interesting journey of changing this habit of hers.  A simple everyday undesirable behavior can have many aspects to it, just as a serious life problem can, and we addressed these aspects one by one.

Emily started by exploring possible solutions to her difficulty in locating her glasses, such as wearing a necklace with her glasses attached to it, but the latter had not worked in the past for Emily for various reasons, as it doesn’t for many people.  She finally came up with what she thought would be a “real solution,” although she was quick to say that she didn’t want to use it.  The solution was to create designated “parking places” for her glasses in her house, and never place them down anywhere but in those designated places.

She thought this would work “if only I would do it, but of course I won’t!”

I then asked her this pointed question, “What would be the downside of this plan if you put it into effect?  What would you find unpleasant about it?”

Emily knew the answer right away.  “It would make me feel imposed upon.” She said. “I would resent being forced to place my glasses in a particular spot.  When I’m in my own house I want to feel free!”

Emily had hit upon an important reason why many people refuse to change undesirable ways of doing things even when a part of them recognizes a distinct advantage in doing these things differently.  Nobody likes feeling pushed or forced to do something, even if that something is for their own good!

The trouble with most attempts to change behavior is the fact that most people tend to treat themselves in an authoritarian and over-severe manner when they go about changing one of their habits.  They are all too apt to adopt a stern “Do it or else!” attitude toward themselves.  Their inner dialogue resembles that of a severe teacher chastising a recalcitrant child, rather than that of one adult talking to another with understanding and respect.

Adopting a harsh and unfriendly attitude toward oneself when trying to change your own behavior is guaranteed to create rebellion in you against any new regimen, so this is often the first issue that needs to be addressed by EFT.

For this issue, Emily chose the EFT statement, “Even though I don’t want to be forced to put my glasses in any one place, I choose to be flexible and understanding with myself in this.”

Tapping on this statement made a great deal of difference in Emily’s attitude toward her proposed plan and she was soon ready for the next step ––introducing a sense of real pleasure into the process of change.

The EFT statement she used for this was:

“Even though it‘s a big bother to walk over and put my glasses in the right place each time, I choose to find it interesting and satisfying to do.”

This rather surprising statement had a strong effect on Emily.  She soon began to take satisfaction in the neatness and accuracy with which she could now place her glasses in “the right place’, and she found herself applauding her own efforts.  She felt competent and mature as she complied with her new self-made rules.

Once she had made the new behavior she had chosen into an enjoyable one in her mind, Emily was on the road to “recovery”.  The truth that she realized was that we never really abandon any former behavior until the new one becomes enjoyable, until it draws us to it like a magnet.  The enjoyment we experience may be a deep sense of satisfaction, or a sense of triumph, or an esthetic appreciation of the neatness of positioning the glasses correctly, or some other aspect of the new behavior that pleases us.  Whatever it is, to take real pleasure in the new behavior is an essential component of successful change, and EFT can be used with wonderful effect to instill this pleasure component into the process.

The upshot of her use of EFT to effect a desirable change was that Emily eventually came to enjoy her new way of handling her glasses so much that she adopted her plan permanently, and she began to experience the relief of being able to put her hands on her glasses whenever she needed them – this was an immense relief.

You too can follow this protocol for behavior change and I highly recommend you do.  Here it is in a nutshell:

1.        Look for the downside to changing your habitual behavior, and address this first when you start doing EFT.  More often than not this downside will be a feeling of having capitulated to enforced discipline, so it is up to you to create EFT statements to counteract this self imposed coercion and replace it with self understanding and encouragement.

2.        Once your initial resistance is lessened, you can then find something distinctly pleasant in the new behavior and use EFT to instill a positive attitude toward your new plan.  This will ensure the behavior’s acceptance and make it permanent.

I highly recommend that you try using EFT in this way.  It will greatly expand the usefulness of the technique for you.

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