One of the wonderful things about EFT or tapping is you can do it on your own, without seeing a therapist or alongside your therapy sessions. Tapping points are easy to remember and there are no restrictions on what you can tap on. Are you irritated by your neighbor throwing a loud party? Or you are stressed because there is too much to do – with kids, with work, with elderly parents to care for – and you seem to be caught on a treadmill?
EFT can be applied to all kinds of things big or small to release emotional and also physical pain. However, using EFT on your own also has its challenges. In this article, I will explore some common obstacles to using self-applied EFT and suggest possible ways of overcoming them. I will also consider the benefits of using EFT for self-help versus working with a therapist.
The first and foremost problem with doing EFT on your own is actually… not doing it at all! Recently, a new client who was very impressed with EFT said to me: “You must be a very happy person having this tool!” It resonated with me and made me think. Yes, I am reasonably happy, but perhaps not as happy as I could be. And why is that? The simple reason is that although I do have this wonderful tool at my disposal, I fail to use it regularly and properly. Those of you who engage or have engaged in meditation must be familiar with the challenge. You know well that meditation makes you feel good, yet you skip your meditation practice again and again. It requires a lot of self-discipline – a conscious effort – to create that space for yourself and focus, with full intention, on your being.
When I speak about creating space, I mean both time and physical space. With regard to time, establishing a routine can be very helpful. Are you a morning person or an evening person? What is the time of the day in which you can create a little oasis of you-time? Identify that time and schedule it in your diary (15 to 30 minutes). If you just wait for such a time to naturally occur, the chances are that it won’t happen. You have to take your self and your tapping practice seriously and set a firm intention.
It is also important to have a physical space conducive to focusing on your self. Tapping in your office in the middle of all the paperwork and phone calls may not be very effective. As with meditation, choose the spot where you are feeling held and supported by the atmosphere. You can play some ambient music and light a candle. Most importantly you should feel safe, contained and not disturbed in this place. Switch off your mobile phone and close your laptop. If you are in a busy household negotiate this space with your partner and family members. These simple preparations will help you get into tapping quicker and draw the maximum benefit from it.
Another challenge is tuning in and staying tuned it to your emotions. EFT doesn’t work if you just tap mechanically while your mind is wandering somewhere else. You need to really feel the emotion and locate it in your body. Are you feeling anxious and having “butterflies” in your stomach? Are you overwhelmed and feeling a burden weighing heavily on your shoulders? Sometimes you can start by tapping on a physical symptom without knowing what kind of emotion is attached to it. In this case, focus on the symptom and as you tap begin to ask yourself gentle questions, such as: “I wonder what it might be that is causing me this pain?” “I wonder what is it that my body is trying to tell me?” If you allow yourself to relax into the flow of tapping and feeling – the answer will emerge and it may surprise you. I witnessed it many times when working on my own as well as with my clients. One day a client complained about a pain in her finger. As we tapped, we discovered that her finger began to hurt when she got angry with her teenage son two days before, but she pushed her anger down into her body because she wanted to avoid an argument. When we tapped on her anger and allowed it to be expressed and released, the pain in her finger vanished.
“Rambling” is a simple and effective way of getting into the tapping process. Is there something that bothers you and you go over it again and again in your head? You can tell the story to yourself as you tap. Simply voice whatever comes to your mind, skipping the set-up stage. We can have hundreds of thoughts whirling in our mind concurrently but we can only say out loud one at a time. Do it while remaining attentive to how you feel and how your body responds to any particular thought. This technique can help you identify the thoughts that have the biggest emotional resonance in you, so that you can gradually move on to tapping on a specific emotion or issue.
The heavyweight challenge is dealing with deep-seated issues that may feel too big and scary to approach on your own. Looking deep into our selves and facing our demons can be frightening especially for somebody who has never had therapy before. As one of my clients said: “It is like when I was a child and imagined that there was a monster under my bed that will spring up and grab my ankle!” The surest way to chase away the monster is to switch on the light, but to do so we need to take these few steps across the dark room…
Fearing what we may find within our selves may prevent us from connecting with our emotions. Or emotions that are sensed inside can seem too powerful and overwhelming to unleash them. In addition to fear, guilt and shame often constitute big emotional blockages. For example, people who suffered emotional abuse or neglect in their childhood may feel guilty about “blaming” their parents. This feeling would stop them from acknowledging their hurt. If you are aware of any such feelings (fear, shame, guilt) that may prevent you from locating and releasing the pain you are holding inside, it would be advisable to do this work with a help of a therapist or at least in the presence of a trusted friend who can validate your feelings without giving you advice or trying to “rescue” you.
Although tapping with a therapist would provide you with a safe and regular space as well as with experienced professional guidance there are some obvious advantages to tapping on your own. First of all, within one single session you can only cover this much ground. If you tap regularly by yourself in-between the sessions (even if on smaller issues) it can greatly accelerate your progress. And for those of you who are experienced travelers into the underworld of human psyche, self-applied EFT can be a real breakthrough tool because nobody can know you better than you yourself. When I tap on my own and allow myself to drift on the undercurrent of my subconscious I can follow the intricate and subtle twists of my thoughts and feelings as if following a thread in a maze. I must admit that I often tap silently because I find that verbalizing my sensations slows me down. In a similar way the process of translating feelings into words slows down a therapist, even the one who is endowed with a strong intuition.
Self-guided deep EFT can be very thrilling, a journey akin to deep meditation, but as for any challenging journey one needs to be adequately prepared and embark on it with the right state of mind. My suggestion is: start with small things, be curious, explore and let the things unfold.