One of the many things life is good at is presenting us with challenging situations.
We might have to speak in public, go through difficult medical procedures, visit relatives we can’t stand, deal with angry customers and do many more things that we would prefer not to.
You could just grit your teeth and get on with it or you could use tapping processes to ease your apprehension and find the resources you need to be the best you can be in that situation.
So, you might start looking for tapping scripts that ‘work’ for your problem. You might hope with just a few rounds of tapping that you can go from stressed / distressed / anxious / terrified to calm / centred / happy / relaxed.
It’s a simple solution that probably won’t work.
In a culture that values ‘positive’ feelings and rejects (or fears) ‘negative’ feelings many people focus on getting past feeling bad to feeling good as quickly as possible. They hope that if the tapping ends on a high note then all will be well.
In the understandable desire for (premature) reassurance we try to speed past difficult feelings and get to the enjoyable ones.
Unfortunately, to genuinely access your emotional resources it’s more effective to resolve what gets in their way.
Many ‘negative’ emotions are there to alert us that something is not right and needs our attention. Millions of years of evolution have made these signals very persuasive. Most of our ancestors who ignored these signals died before they could even be our ancestors.
In our modern lives these signals may be triggered in unhelpful ways but they are still very persuasive. Trying to talk yourself out of fear or relax yourself out of panic is difficult because these signals are designed to get your attention. That’s not your fault, it’s just your biology working hard to keep you safe.
To be able to access your resources in a challenging situation you need to be able to soothe your overactive alarm systems so you can access new feelings and adopt new behaviours.
To soothe your alarm systems you may need to defuse several layers of distress.
A script won’t do this because however clever the script writer is they are not you, your collections of distresses are a personal blend that only you can experience.
It may be slow and difficult at times, but it’s much more effective to unpack your own distress and soothe its different elements before trying to access resources.
This is why this two stage process starts with ‘defusing’.
Defusing The Challenge
One of the perennial questions from new and not so new tappers is “What do I tap on?”.
I suspect that’s one of the main reasons tapping scripts are so popular, somebody else is telling you what to say.
But there are simple ways of figuring out what to tap on, one of those is Adjective Tapping.
The adjectives you use to describe a situation give a clue to the emotional components of that situation.
If somebody tells you they had a ‘gruelling’ and ‘scary’ job interview and someone else tells you their interview was ‘relaxed’ and ‘comfortable’ you don’t need to be a mind reader to know who struggled and suffered.
We can take advantage the adjectives we use to describe a situation to guide out tapping to soothe our stress and distress around that situation.
Think of a (mildly) problematic situation you are going to have to deal with.
What do you notice when you bring this situation to mind?
When you think about this situation how stressed / distressed / apprehensive do you feel?
Complete the sentence: “This [situation] will be …” as many times as you can listing all the adjectives you use to describe it.
For all sorts of reasons, many people find the Christmas / Holiday season in December quite challenging.
So completing the sentence “Christmas will be … “ might give the following list of adjectives.
Christmas will be …
- a struggle
Give each of the adjectives from your “This [situation] will be …” a SUDs score of 0-10.
Christmas will be …
- exhausting – 8
- annoying – 7
- boring – 6
- a struggle – 8
- infuriating – 9
- lonely – 5
Now you have a list of potential tapping statements that describe your problem with the situation.
Starting with the highest scores, tap on each of the charged statement to reduce your level of distress.
Even though “Christmas will be infuriating, I deeply and completely accept myself” as a setup phrase followed by “Christmas will be infuriating” as the reminder phrase.
Work your way through each of the intense statements in turn, checking the overall intensity of your ‘situation’ as you go.
Repeat this process to lower the level of stress and distress you feel about this situation.
At the end of this process as you bring your situation to mind there will probably be a marked drop in the stress and distress you feel about it.
If there is still some stress or distress evoked when you imagine this situation you might like to try: How To Use EFT To Resolve Distress About Things That Haven’t Happened Yet.
Important: Sometimes situations can be very stressful depending on their history. If the situation you are considering involved any degree of trauma then you need to tap your way through that trauma (or get help to do that tapping) before your alarm system will be soothed. For example: if your upcoming situation is the court case of the husband who physically abused you, there will be a lot of trauma responses conditioning how you feel about that situation. You will need to deal with those traumas before this process will work.
If you’ve defused the stress and distress associated with this situation now you can proceed to access the resources you need to be at your best in it.
Aspiring To Be At Your Best
It’s easy to think that if I could just be calm, or relaxed, or strong, or brave, etc in a situation that everything would be all right.
Most of us would like simple solutions to our problems., but most challenging situations are complicated (especially if you are in the middle of one).
If you are going to survive and thrive in a complex situation you need to have mental and emotional flexibility to adapt to the changes as they arrive.
A rigidly applied solution is probably not going to be an effective one.
Mental and emotional flexibility is the job of our ‘other-than-conscious’ mind. If you are a good driver now you probably started out as bad driver who managed to learn enough flexibility by thinking hard while those driving skills were installed into your unconscious mind.
It’s hard to deliberately think your way into the flexibility you need to gracefully handle the challenges of the situation you are going to face.
What you need is an aspiration for how you want to be and access to the abilities of your unconscious mind to be flexible to get what you want.
This is a great use for Paradoxical Tapping
Superficially, Paradoxical Tapping looks like the Choices Method developed by Pat Carrington, to move from a negative situation to a positive alternative, the difference lies in the way the desired resource is accessed.
Like the Choices Method the process starts with two questions:
- How do you usually feel [in this situation]?
- How do you want to feel instead?
Using the Christmas example:
“How do you usually feel during Christmas?” – “Stressed out, critical, worn out, annoyed etc.”
“How would you like to feel instead?” – Relaxed, friendly, energised, enthusiastic, etc.”
Choose a pair of feelings X & Y that represent the way you currently feel about [the situation] and the way you would like to feel.
For example: “I feel critical during Christmas and I would like to feel friendly”.
Create a tapping statement with the following structure:
“I feel ‘X’ in/about/during [the situation] and, in how many different ways, could I feel more ‘Y’ during/in/about [the situation]?”
Now you have your [situation] statement you can start tapping.
Tap on the eyebrow point saying “I feel ‘X’ during [situation]”, then tap on the side of the eye saying “and, in how many different ways could I feel more ‘Y’ during [situation]”, tap through the other points silently whilst letting your mind come up with all the answers to that question.
For example: tap “I feel X about Christmas” on the eyebrow point ” and in how many different ways could I feel more Y during Christmas” on the side of the eye point, followed by silent tapping.
The wording of the reminder statement in this process is important because each segment fulfils a different purpose:
- I feel ‘X’: is starting with the negative feeling you would like to be different, it’s the first step in getting to where you want to go
- and: ‘and’ acknowledges the feeling as it is and acknowledgement facilitates change. Whereas using ‘but’ contradicts the first part and puts the next part of the sentence into conflict with it.
- in how many different ways … ?: ‘How’ is a question and the human mind loves to answer questions, doesn’t it? ‘How many different ways’ is an invitation to the other than conscious mind to creatively come up with many possible alternatives. This is the invitation to flexibility that will make all the difference.
- could: ‘could’ is hypothetical, being hypothetical it allows your mind to come up with many different scenarios you might not otherwise consider. Using ‘could’ we can step out beyond the normal limits of what we ‘can’ do.
- feel more …: to feel ‘more’ of something presupposes that you must already be feeling it to some degree. This helps the mind access what it needs more easily.
You do not have to be conscious of or articulate whatever your mind comes up with, give your conscious mind a rest and just let the tapping do its job.
Bring your situation to mind, what is it like now?
You can boost your results by working through some, or all, of the other charged ‘negative’ feelings you identified in the ‘Defusing’ section and create the alternatives you want.
- “I feel stressed about Christmas and in how many different ways could I feel more relaxed about Christmas”
- “I feel stressed about Christmas and in how many different ways could I feel more peaceful about Christmas”
Now how do you feel about that upcoming situation?
The article Paradoxical Tapping describes this process in more detail.
But, isn’t this a lot of work?
By now you might be thinking “I’m going to look for a script!”
This process might look like a lot of work, and in the short term it may be, however in the long term I think it is worth it, because:
- The work of investigating your distress and tapping it out means that this process is perfectly tailored to you and your experience. There is no script that can do that, it may take some effort but more of your stress and distress is cleared because you are being exquisitely specific.
- Each time you clear some of your stress and distress triggers they are less likely to be triggered in the future. Working on one situation may have a beneficial effects on other similar situations down the line.
- The resources you discover for that situation are perfectly tailored to you and your needs. There is no script that can do that, you can help create a response to a situation that works best for you because you have a better sense of what’s useful to you than the person who wrote the script.
- Each time you invite your other-than-conscious mind to be flexible in response to situations you are developing your unconscious flexibility for future situations.
- Because of the generalisation effect the more tapping you do and the more thoroughly you do it the less you have to do.
I hope this helps and I’d love to hear about your experiences.