Do you ever find yourself wanting to tackle an issue using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), but are unsure of where to begin?
Maybe there's a tangled web of related memories and secondary gains - situations where part of you worries about what could go wrong if you fix your issue; situations where everything seems a bit too much.
So, Where Should you Start?
When there's a ton of stuff related to the issue you want to work on, it can feel like a mountain that's just too big to climb. It can be so overwhelming that it even stops you from getting started with your EFT.
One method to overcome this is the 'Sneaking Up' technique, where you tap on how you feel about confronting this issue. For instance, while tapping on the side of your hand, you could use the phrase:
“Even though I feel overwhelmed because this issue is incredibly complex with too many aspects, and I'm unsure of where to begin, I accept how I feel.”
However, today, I aim to introduce another strategy: focusing on future events.
Focusing on Future Events
In my previous article on "How to find the 'gold nugget aspect' to improve your results with EFT", we discussed that zeroing in on specific events, like a memory such as 'the time when...(fill in the blanks) happened', can make your EFT practice more effective. This specificity helps reduce negative emotional intensity more quickly, and witnessing your progress can increase your motivation.
This effect can be further amplified by noting which aspect of the event brings the highest emotional intensity, like "the way he looked at me when he said that". We refer to this key emotional trigger as the 'Gold Nugget' of the event.
How About Applying this Same Approach to Future Events?
Instead of tapping on past events, you can imagine a negative scenario that might happen in the future. This strategy can help you bring up and let go of any negative expectations that are hiding in your conscious or subconscious mind.
Why does this help? Well, it can dig up those negative expectations that are holding you back in certain parts of your life. Plus, if there's a relevant memory that needs some work, it's going to pop up naturally as your mind starts to 'shift aspects' after each tapping round. You don't have to overthink it or try to 'figure it out’. Your subconscious mind will point you to what needs to be tackled next.
Working on the Fear of Rejection
Let me give you an example. I was helping a client recently who was trying to lessen her fear of rejection. This fear was stopping her from getting in touch with a possible business referral. Let’s call this business referral Susan. So, I asked, “What thoughts or feelings come up when you think about reaching out to Susan?”
Responses to this question usually vary between something likely to occur or an unlikely yet scary worst-case scenario. Work with whatever comes forward.
My client expressed, “I imagine she'll be so busy that she'll perceive me as wasting her time.”
After asking her how this thought was affecting her and zeroing in on the the key aspect, we used Basic EFT to come up with the following statement:
"Even though I'm worried that calling Susan might make her think I'm just eating up her time because she's too busy, and her tone might hint that she's not really into me and my business, which hurts me right in the chest, I accept myself and how I feel."
After one or two rounds, the intensity of this 'hurt' reduced, but another aspect emerged.
“I'm afraid I might be so nervous that my voice will shake.” This newly-surfaced aspect was still connected to the anticipated future event, so we revised our setup statement:
“Even though when I think about calling Susan, I get anxious that my voice will tremble from nervousness and she might pick up on that, giving me butterflies in my stomach, I accept myself and all my feelings anyway.”
Yet again, after another round of EFT, the intensity of the fear lessened, but now a different aspect arose.
Instead of focusing on the anticipated event, an unexpected memory popped up. She recalled an instance when she turned to her dad for advice, but he brushed her off because he was too busy.
This switch to an important past memory after several rounds of focusing on a future event really highlights how our minds can guide us to the issues that matter.
We then knew exactly which memory to address next. As we continued tapping, we used this phrase:
"Even though when I recall the time I asked my dad for advice and he ignored me, I feel a deep sadness around my heart because I really needed his advice and he didn't care, I accept myself anyway".
By the end of the session, after letting go of the lingering emotions tied to that old memory, we circled back to the future scenario of reaching out to Susan. My client, by this point, felt at ease with the idea. Plus, we noticed some ‘cognitive shifts’.
Cognitive shifts are spontaneous changes in viewpoint, offering a more empowering perspective once the negative emotional intensity around an issue has lessened. In this case, she had a realization:
“Sure, Susan might be busy, but what I have to offer could actually be a great addition for her students and complement her work. She might be interested in hearing what I have to say. And, hey, I can even check her availability before the call to make sure she has time to listen.”
To recap, starting your EFT sessions by focusing on future events can really boost their effectiveness. It gives you an easy place to start and can bring up relevant memories.
If a highly intense or traumatic memory emerges while you are practicing EFT on your own, it's advisable to seek the assistance of a skilled EFT practitioner. They can provide a safe, gentle, and effective space for you to process such memories.
The other great advantage of working on future events is that any progress you make on diminishing their intensity, will allow you to start taking some of the actions you’d been previously unable to, even if you haven’t completely released the intensity of all the aspects yet. This is because you’ll notice there’s going to be less resistance for you to try to ignore or “push through”.
I am grateful to Alina Frank and Craig Weiner for teaching me this approach during their comprehensive EFT training and certification process.
Bruno Sade is a certified EFT and Matrix Reimprinting practitioner. He has a mental health background as a clinical psychologist licensed in Argentina.