Paradoxical Tapping

Image courtesy of easyflow
Image courtesy of easyflow

The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.

– Niels Bohr

When we are working with our difficult feelings we may find that our minds are constricted by those feelings.

If we are very sad then we find it hard to imagine how we might be happy. The sadness itself changes our perceptions of the world and what’s possible.

Using standard EFT we tap on negative emotions to bring down the intensity to a more manageable level.

Even though I feel sad I accept myself and how I feel … and so on.

This approach works well, but what if we could assist the process and expand the ability of our minds to hold helpful alternatives while we are in the midst of the negative feeling?

The concept of yin-yang and its familiar symbol represent the Chinese understanding of the balancing of opposites.

The outer circle represents “everything”, while the black and white shapes within the circle represent the interaction of yin and yang. The shapes are not completely black or white, just as things in life are not completely black or white, and they cannot exist without each other.

Paradoxical tapping introduces the opposite of the emotion or belief you are working on into the tapping, to open out your experience of possibilities more quickly and powerfully than standard EFT.

Here are some typical statements you might be tapping on using standard EFT:

  • I am struggling
  • I feel sad
  • Working for myself is difficult

Simple Paradoxical Tapping

The simplest way to use paradoxical tapping is to think of the opposite of the feeling / belief state and introduce it into the tapping using the word and.

What are your opposites for “struggling”, “sad” and “difficult”?

Each of us has our own unique experience and understanding what things mean and what their opposites are.

For example: the opposite of “hard” might be “soft”, or “easy”, or “smooth”, or …

Whatever your opposite for a feeling or situation is it is going to be right for you. As we go through the examples substitute your own opposites for the feelings and beliefs described.

  • The opposite of “struggling” might be “thriving”.
  • The opposite of “sad” might be “happy”.
  • The opposite of “difficult” might be “easy”.

Now we have an opposite how do we introduce it into the tapping phrase?

The simplest approach is to use the word and which combines, joins, and unites the words and phrases on either side of it.

In the simplest form of paradoxical tapping we create a standard setup statement and alternate the tapping between the original feeling and its opposite.

For example:

Even though I am struggling, I accept myself and how I feel x 3

EB: I am struggling
SE: and I am thriving
UE: I am struggling
UN: and I am thriving
CH: I am struggling
CB: and I am thriving
UA: I am struggling
TH: and I am thriving


I am sad, and I am happy
Working for myself is difficult, and it is easy.

The and in these statements join the apparent opposites together.

If you try tapping routines like this you may find that they work well, but often they can be a bit too much of a stretch for the mind to cope with. The second half of the reminder phrase may be greeted with a lot of internal resistance.

Smoother Paradoxical Tapping

If it is too much of a stretch to go from “I am sad” to “I am happy” in one go then we can make the alternative much easier to introduce by using the following form of words.

Use the standard set-up statement Even though I am struggling, I accept myself and how I feel x 3

Then use this form of the paradoxical tapping to introduce the opposite more smoothly.

EB: I am struggling
SE: and in how many different ways could I be thriving?
UE: I am struggling
UN: and in how many different ways could I be thriving?
CN: I am struggling
CB: and in how many different ways could I be thriving?
UA: I am struggling
TH: and in how many different ways could I be thriving?


  • I am sad, and in how many different ways could I be happy?
  • Working for myself is hard, and in how many different ways could it be easy?

Let’s unpack this sentence

… in how many different ways … This is an invitation to your unconscious mind to start creating alternatives, not just one alternative but many different alternatives.

… could it be [opposite]? ‘Could’ is a question that invites you to be hypothetical about the possibilities in the future: “Could it rain on Thursday?”, “Could we have pancakes for lunch?” Both are possible, they might happen, they might not, we’re just imagining the possibilities as we answer those questions. Our minds are not under pressure to agree with anything.

Combining the invitation to come up with many hypothetical ways in which the opposite might be true allows the mind to free itself from the clash of opposites and learn ways of making it happen.

Using this form of word makes it significantly easier for the person doing the tapping to ‘let the opposite in’.

There is one simple addition that makes the Paradoxical Tapping even more powerful.

Powerful Paradoxical Tapping

Add the word now to the paradoxical alternatives

  • I am struggling, and in how many different ways could I be thriving? Now!
  • I am sad, and in how many different ways could I be happy? Now!
  • Working for myself is hard, and in how many different ways could it be easy? Now! The word now invites the mind to bring the hypothetical alternatives that it has been considering (all in the space of a few seconds tapping) into the present moment. This seems to intensify the power of the paradoxical tapping.

You will see that the word now appears after the question mark and is emphasised. The word needs to be given a little bit of verbal emphasis and a downward inflextion to indicate it is a command rather than part of the question.

If you are not sure of the difference try saying

Do it now?
Do it now!

There will be a difference in tone that differentiates the question from the command. Use the command tone for the now in the paradoxical tapping.

Using the powerful version of Paradoxical Tapping makes it possible to change feelings quickly, often with just one round of tapping.

Important: If the feelings you are working on are very intense, paradoxical tapping is best used after any raw intensity of emotions have been soften with standard tapping

You can find this technique and 11 others in The EFT Collection: 12 Tapping Techniques For Practical Wellbeing

Announcement: The EFT Collection

The EFT CollectionI’m pleased to announce the arrival of my new e-book “The EFT Collection: 12 Tapping Techniques For Practical Wellbeing“.

This e-book is a compilation of some of the EFT/Tapping techniques that I have developed over the years as an EFT Practitioner and Trainer and written about on this website.

The techniques presented in this book range from very simple tactics to quite broad strategies for dealing with difficult situations.

They will help you:

  • Neutralise resistance to tapping so that you can get on with making the changes you want to make.
  • Make problems more “tappable”.
  • Identify and neutralise blocks to getting things done.
  • Soften negative emotions quickly and easily.
  • Easily find and dissolve limiting beliefs.
  • Change unhelpful patterns of behaviour and help create new ways of doing things.

The EFT Collection is for people who already know and use tapping for their own self development or with the people they work with in their professional lives. It is a collection of techniques designed for people who want to be free of their unhelpful and limiting thoughts, feelings, beliefs and patterns of behaviour.

To get the best out of the book you need to be willing to explore your own experience, try things out and learn from the process. It is an opportunity and an invitation to develop your awareness, intuition and judgement about your inner world and give you new ways to work with what you find.

Click on The EFT Collection to to find out more and purchase your copy.

Who do you want them to become?

Image courtesy of AndYaDontStop
Image courtesy of AndYaDontStop

Seth Godin is one of my favourite authors.

He is an American business writer, but don’t let that title put you off. He is a fascinating and persuasive combination of marketer, philosopher and humanitarian.

In his latest book The Icarus Deception he writes about how culture conspires with our innate programming to stop us from reaching our full potential.

As part of his argument about the value of human (and humane) interactions he makes the point that when you make a human connection with someone: a friend, partner, child, customer, pupil, client and so on, that person will be changed by the interaction and so will you.

So far so good.

Then he quoted another business writer Michael Schrage who asks a question that gets to the heart of my work as a therapist and trainer.

“Who do you want your customer to become after they interact with you?”.

I substituted the word client or trainee for customer.

I was intrigued by this question and here is my first attempt at an answer:

“Who do I want my clients / trainees to become after they interact with me?”

I want them to become:

  • more accurately aware of what is going on in their inner world and their outer world. For most of us our perception of what is going on in these worlds is hugely conditioned by our experience and upbringing. Undoing these distortions in our perception is an essential step to acting appropriately to the ‘real’ world and it’s demands.
  • calmer, more centred and resourceful. Feeling more in charge of your own experience is a much more useful place to start from than anxious, scattered and helpless.
  • better able to think, feel and act more freely. If they are less scared of their inner world and less driven by their history then they will have the power to do things differently.
  • more accepting of themselves and their humanity. In Brene Brown’s evocative phrase they will be further along the road from “What will they think?” to “I am enough”.
  • kinder to themselves. If trauma and self-criticism rule the roost, if you have been punished, or punish yourself then being kind to yourself is no small accomplishment.

If you want those results and I can deliver on them, then we would probably be a good match of client / therapist or trainee / trainer.

On the other hand, if you don’t want those kind of results then we are probably going to be a very bad match.

Will everyone I work with have these results?

Everyone? No, of course not.

I may want these things for the people I work with, but wanting something and getting it are two very different things.

Some of these changes take time and effort from all the people involved. It has certainly taken me time and effort to achieve some of these changes in my life.

I do know that with the right effort it is possible to make these changes and to become that which you want to become.

OK, that’s enough about me and what I hope to bring to the people I work with.

What about you and the people you interact with?

After you interact with the important people in your life:

“Who do you want them to become?”

And if that wasn’t enough to think about, here is a follow up question that wasn’t in Seth’s book.

“If they are to become whatever it is after your interaction, who must you be to help them with that becoming?”

A musical explanation of fear

The Amygdaloids are a New York City band made up of scientists who shed their scientific garb at night and take to the stage with songs about love and life peppered with insights drawn from research about mind and brain and mental disorders.

The band was formed by Joseph LeDoux the neuroscientist who worked out a lot of the inner circuitry of fear and anxiety in animals and humans.

Appropriately this song Fearing is all about fear and contains two wonderful mini-lectures about fear.

EFT Café – Metaphorical Tapping – February 13th, 2013

Image courtesy of Brett Jordan
Image courtesy of Brett Jordan

We speak in metaphors.

We talk about “wading through treacle”, “being on the edge of something”, “banging our heads on a brick wall”.

Metaphors are very vivid ways of talking and writing about our experience.

In fact metaphors are a very vivid way of having and understanding our experience. They encapsulate a situation in a way that would take a lot of words.

Like pictures, metaphors are worth a thousand words.

In standard EFT we usually tap on memories, feelings and beliefs unpacking our experience with words to give us something to tap on.

Rather than tap on all those words we use those metaphorical descriptions to make changes in our experience. By working on a metaphor we are able to change multiple layers of thought, feeling and meaning without having to unpack the situation to Nth degree.

In this month’s EFT Cafe, Andy Hunt will show you one way of use EFT to work with our metaphorical experience to create change in our world.

The EFT Café is on Wednesday February 13th from 7pm-9pm at St Oswald’s Hospice Teaching Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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