Neutralizing difficult memories with EFT is straightforward, by soothing one memory at a time you can work your way through troublesome memories to get relief from the past.
These days I’m using Steve Wells Intention Energy Processes (IEP) most of the time for working with all sorts of emotions, thoughts, beliefs and memories. It’s a fast and efficient process that uses the unconscious mind to do most of the heavy lifting while you are tapping.
Sometimes, clients tune into an issue and report that lots of memories related to that issue are coming up into awareness. Using EFT you would probably have to process these memories one at a time to get full relief.
With IEP you can also defuse difficult memories one at a time, but there are also ways to process challenging memories in bulk, by using the unconscious mind to gather the relevant memories together and then do the work of defusing them.
I was working with a client who had a prickly relationship with a close relative who was prone to emotional outbursts which intimidated my client. After each of these episodes my client spent a lot of time walking on eggshells around this person so as not to provoke another outburst.
We were processing some of her memories as part of defusing her sensitivity to these events. We had neutralised two memories using IEP when I asked her to remember another one and she commented “There are loads of them”.
Rather than do one at a time, I thought I’d try a little experiment.
I suggested to her that there must be a part of her unconscious mind that was acting like a ’librarian of memory’, able to select the relevant memories of these events and bring them into awareness.
She agreed with that idea.
I said “Ask this ‘librarian of memory’ part of you to assemble all the memories of these outbursts into an ‘album’ that we can work on rather than just one memory at a time.” After a few moments processing she said she had one.
I suggested that she put this ’album’ of memories out in front of her where we could ’see’ it.
I asked her to “release all her emotional attachments to all those memories in the album”. After a few rounds of tapping like this there was no charge left on any of the memories in the album.
Then I said “Put all those memories back into the past where they actually happened.”
She did that and I asked her to remember them now and there was no charge on any of them. (From what I know of the client’s history there would have been dozens of those memories).
The walking on eggshells feeling had greatly reduced. We still have some work to do on some of the triggers and beliefs, but the ’album process’ made it easier to deal with a collection of similar memories.
Since this first experiment, I’ve been using and refining the process with dozens of clients to help them process many memories at once.
There are several advantages to using this process.
- It’s much quicker than processing each memory one at a time.
- It’s more comfortable, because the memories are processed in a ’contained’ form that keeps them at a ’safe’ distance from the client.
- It’s more efficient than letting the conscious mind decide which memories to process, because the unconscious mind has a much more comprehensive understanding of how things are connected.
Note: this process is intended for people who have experience of using IEP with clients
- If the client comes across a collection of related problematic memories, ask them to gather them into an album. Saying something like: “Ask your unconscious mind to gather all those memories (related to that experience) together and put them in a ‘photo album’”.
- When they have done that (it may take a few seconds) ask them to imagine putting that closed photo album, containing all those memories, out in front of them more than an arm’s length away. (If the intensity is high tell them to move the album further away to a safe distance).
- Use IEP on the album and the memories within it. “I release all my emotional attachments to that album and all the memories in it.” This may take many rounds of tapping to allow the emotions in the client and the emotional charge of the memories to decrease.
- When the initial charge has diminished you can use “I release all my emotional attachments to those memories and everything they mean”.
- Continue tapping until the charge on all those memories has greatly reduced.
- When you are in this phase of tapping, individual memories may present themselves to the client. If that happens you can use IEP to deal with each of those memories as they arise.
- Eventually the emotional charge on all those memories will be very low, then you can complete the process with “I put all those memories back into the past where they actually happened.”
- Have the client check in with their issue, what they notice about it now and how it is different?
How This Process Works
This process takes advantage of the unconscious mind to select the memories and to use the intention tapping process to resolve them.
When groups of memories arise in awareness during tapping it is because they are associated in some way with the issue being worked on.
Our conscious mind can’t keep track of all the experiences that are related to a particular issue by the threads of feelings and associations that link them.
However our unconscious mind ’knows’ which memories are connected to each other and can use those feelings and associations to gather them together.
By asking our ’inner librarian’ to gather these memories together we hand the job over to our unconscious mind (which can do it) and keeps the conscious mind (which often thinks it knows what is going on, but doesn’t) from messing things up.
Once our unconscious mind has gathered these memories together we need some way to hold them while we process them, which is why we ask the unconscious mind to put them into an album.
The album is a metaphorical device to contain distressing memories in a way that makes them safe to work with.
We have varying degrees of capacity for working with challenging emotions and experiences. If those experiences are ’too much’ we become overwhelmed and activated, or we numb out from them for our own protection. (See [The Road Of Fire And Ice for a more detailed explanation.)
The work of the practitioner is to modulate the client’s experience so they can stay in what might be narrow a zone of safety.
The ’album’ can help to keep the client safe by changing the way they represent those painful memories.
By definition, emotionally charged memories are vivid, these memories are made vivid because of their perceptual qualities (known as submodalities in NLP).
Emotionally intense memories are often:
- movies rather than stills
- in 3D
- panoramic (they surround us in our IMAX cinema of the mind)
- too close (we have a front row seat in what is distressing)
- in full view of your mind’s eye.
Those are the qualities that give the image some of their intensity.
When, metaphorically, we put those images in a photo album we make them:
- small, photos in albums are typically small
- still images, not movies
- 2D, photos are flat
- bordered, photos are rectangles: everything in the scene has an edge and is contained within the photo
- secure, the ’photos’ are stuck to the page: they can’t move, they can’t get to you
- hidden, you can’t ’see’ the photos in a closed album.
You can add metaphorical locks or bindings to the album to boost their security.
Finally, the album (and all the memories in it) are placed outside your body at a safe distance, further than arm’s length. If you think about it, you will probably find that dangerous things that are further away than your arm’s length feel safer than if they were closer: hence the expression ’keeping someone at arms length’.
Now that your client has put those contained memories at a safe distance you can start tapping.
I start with “I release all my emotional attachments to that album and everything in it”.
When the intensity has dropped I’ll switch to something like “I release all my emotional attachments to all those memories in that album”.
Then to “I release all my emotional attachments to all those memories and everything they mean”.
Often as the tapping progresses individual memories will ’pop-out’ of the album and you can process in the usual way before going back to the album.
When the ’intensity score’ on the album and its contents is at or close to zero I’ll say “I put all those memories back into the past where they actually happened”.
A few thoughts about this process
I’ve used this process to work with many kinds of memories some of which have been very intense and the process works well.
However, I would not suggest using this on intense material with a new client.
My suspicion is that the process needs a strong therapeutic relationship and a lot of rapport with your client to process more challenging material.
If that is not present I suspect the client’s unconscious mind, which is in charge of selecting the memories to process, will only give you the memories if feels safe to work with.
If you try this approach out I’d be very interested to hear how it works for you.
Credits: While there are some other EFT based processes for working with groups of memories, the idea for this approach was inspired by a chapter in the excellent NLP book ’The Heart of the Mind’ written by Steve and Connirae Andreas (1989). Using NLP methods they teach a client to use an NLP process to neutralise a troublesome memory, then have the client’s unconscious mind gather the relevant memories and process them unconsciously rather than go through each one individually.