“What words do I use?"
"EFT seems so easy in sessions.
When I try to tap on my own, I just can’t seem to find the right words.”
When clients come for sessions with me, we tap and they get profound relief and positive shifts for their challenging and stressful life situations.
But when they go home, many of them tell me that they have trouble tapping on their own. One of the most common difficulties is finding the “right” words to use.
The thing is: there are no "right" or "wrong" words.
No matter what words you use, EFT will likely work.
But there is a formula that, when used consistently, will help you find the words you need more easily.
This Basic EFT formula has 5 easy steps, and I’ll lead you through it here, giving you word and language tips along the way.
To start, get two sheets of paper or a notebook. Draw a line down the middle of the first page, creating 2 columns. Label column 1 “Issues” and column 2 “Emotions/Sensations.” Leave the second page blank.
Step 1. What’s one thing that’s bothering you right now? What would you like to shift? This could be a fear of something, like public speaking. Or it could be anger or embarrassment about something that’s happened. It could be a memory of something that happened long ago that still bothers you today. It could also be a physical pain or cravings for food.
Write this down in column 1. Be brief – just one phrase or sentence.
Examples: I didn’t get the promotion that I believe I deserve.
Too much to get done – my ‘to do’ list is endless.
The memory of by brother/sister calling me terrible names in front of others.
Step 2. As you think about this thing that bothers you, tune into your body. What emotion are you feeling? Or, alternatively, what uncomfortable sensation do you experience and where do you feel it in your body? Write this down in column 2. If you have more than one emotion or body sensation, write them all down.
Use words that resonate with you – emotions or sensations.
Examples of Emotion Words: overwhelmed, frustrated, bummed out, angry, yucky, hurt, anxious, scared, “bla” feeling, confused, shook up, disappointed, embarrassed, nervous
Examples of Sensation Words: tightness in chest, butterflies in stomach, pain in neck, funny feeling in shoulder, clenched jaw, shaky inside, tingling in throat, empty feeling, hot, cold, throbbing, constricted
Different people often use different words to mean about the same thing. The best words to use are those that seem to fit for you right now.
Here are a few groups of words that have slightly different nuances. See which ones you relate to.
Abandoned, rejected, dismissed, ignored, unwanted
Scared, frightened, nervous, anxious, reluctant
Angry, irritated, annoyed, upset, frustrated, agitated
Upset, distressed, uncomfortable
The point is not to be “accurate” or “right” – but rather to use the words that feel “right” to you.
Now, just before moving on to step 3, rate the intensity of your emotion or sensation on a scale of 0 to 10 (0=not at all, 10=the most intense) and write the number next to the words you chose.
Step 3. Using what you’ve written in columns 1 and 2, create a set-up phrase and write this down on the second page. Here’s the formula:
“Even though I feel [insert Emotion or Sensation from column 2] about [insert Issue from column 1],
AND CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING affirmations to finish:
I deeply and completely accept myself.
I accept myself and all my feelings about this.
I want to accept myself anyway.”
Even though I feel angry and hurt about not getting the promotion I believe I deserve, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I feel overwhelmed about my endless ‘to do’ list, I want to accept myself anyway.
Even though I feel tight in my chest about the memory of my brother calling me terrible names in front of others, I accept myself and all my feelings about this.
Step 4. Tap on the side of your hand while repeating 3 times the set-up phrase from Step 3.
Step 5. Tap through all the tapping points, saying or thinking a “reminder” word or phrase at each point.
The simplest “reminder” phrase is the Emotion or Sensation. So, simply repeat at each point:
“this anger and hurt”
or “this overwhelm”
or “this tightness in my chest”
If you wish, you can include the Issue in this phrase:
“this anger and hurt about not getting the promotion”
or “this overwhelm about my endless ‘to do’ list”
or “this tightness in my chest about my brother calling me names”
After you’ve tapped through the points, pause and allow your breath to release. Then check the intensity of the emotion/sensation (0 to 10) and tap again, if necessary, to reduce to intensity more.
Now you can then repeat steps 1 to 5 for a new issue.
Keep it simple.
There’s no need to get fancier than this. Sure, I get “fancy” in sessions – but that’s because I’ve worked with EFT for over 10 years and I enjoy creatively using more advanced approaches and combining EFT with other body-centered interventions.
But plain old Basic EFT works really well - just as described in steps 1 to 5 above.
- Follow the formula
- Use feeling or sensation words that fit for you.
- Keep it simple.