If you want to tap for yourself, but you sometimes find choosing the "right" words challenging, it can help to think about tapping in a slightly different way.
In my experience, tapping isn't about saying a bunch of different things and trying to land on the "right" ones. It isn't even about trying to figure out what's wrong so we can tap. Tapping helps most when we are willing to have a difficult thought or feeling instead of trying to fight it, avoid it or push it away. In other words, sometimes a slight adjustment to our mindset can make all the difference.
First Round: Some Intense "Global" Words
Sometimes we don't know why we are feeling bad. Our thoughts may be too jumbled and our nervous systems too activated for us to put our experience into words. To get started with tapping, I like to begin with how bad I feel at the moment, something akin to, "Ugh, I feel so bad right now."
To think about tapping with this awareness, notice how intense "bad" or "cruddy" or "ugh" feels. Notice where this is in your body. Measure this awareness 0 (low) to 10 (high). Then speak aloud the words you've chosen for at least one full round.
You can adjust the words slightly as you continue to tune in to the discomfort, but don't jump away to other ideas just yet. Simply sit with and be open to having your present difficulty:
Say the setup phrase three times:
Setup: "Even Though I feel So Bad Right Now"
Then speak variations of this awareness in the sequence:
Top of Head: "Even though I feel so bad right now"
Eyebrow: "So bad right now"
Side of Eye: "Ugh, sooo bad..."
Under Eye: "So bad ..."
Under Nose: "Soooo bad ..."
Chin: "Ugh, bad ..."
Collar Bone: "Sooo bad ..."
Under Arm: "Bad in my body"
Top of Hand (Gamut Spot): "Feeling sooo bad."
You might be thinking, "But, I get so bored saying the same words!" If this is true for you, consider that you may be checking-out or running away from the discomfort. Ask yourself what your level of willingness to have this badness is. If you sense that you're afraid of having it, or you're worried what will happen if you do, then maybe start with those words instead like, "So afraid of this badness." In EFT, we call this starting with the most present or activated aspect.
Consider that tapping is not about tapping away difficult thoughts or feelings. It's about allowing yourself to have them so that they naturally evolve away. If you're an EFT practitioner, think about the emotional 'zzzzt' represented by the words, "Feeling so bad right now." While it doesn't sound very specific at first, I argue that "ugghh" is a pretty specific feeling. Subconsciously, you know what it means to you. And since we have to start somewhere, you might remember the technique Global to Get Specific where tapping with a more general sense at first can reveal the specifics. Read more about Global to Get Specific in the EFTi Glossary of Terms.
Second or Third Round: Squeezing the Lemon
We can think of tapping like squeezing a lemon, an idea I got from my friends and mentors Frank and Paul at communionoflight.com. When we squeeze a lemon, we allow ourselves to get all the juice (aka intensity or charge) out of ONE uncomfortable thought or feeling at a time. For example, if there is more juice (intensity or charge) in "bad" after one round or the intensity goes up, and it is safe* to do so, consider staying with the feeling until the intensity is as low as it will go before getting more specific just yet.
Once you've finished being present to "feeling bad" and the intensity subsides, then you can see if the words are different. More specific words will likely arise now that you've acknowledged and allowed the badness. I call it putting our finger on what's coming up or what is more specific for us now. In other words, by allowing our initial discomfort, we let the tapping help the right words rise to the surface.
For example, after tapping on "feeling so bad" and allowing yourself to really go there, you might realize what feels especially bad, such as an uncomfortable interaction with someone or some specific words that were said. If something arises that is more present, intense and specific then choose those words. For example, you might say, "Bad about what he said to me," or "He said [insert words]." Stay with those phrases for a full round, just like you did earlier.
The Essence of EFT
When I'm off in the weeds or feeling bad, I sometimes remember that tapping is about "tuning in" to my discomfort as opposed to "tapping it away". If this feels familiar to you or it keeps you from tapping effectively, you might adjust your mindset (and your setup) a little bit: "Even though I feel so bad right now, I'm willing to sit with this for five minutes and see what happens."
I've found that even the smallest intention to sit with or be with difficulty (or at least have the willingness to do so) can make all the difference in a tapping round. This slight adjustment to my mindset can help me trust the words (even if they are global at first) so that I stay with those uncomfortable words without checking out.
How often do you give yourself or your clients the gift of really sitting with or tapping into the discomfort you're feeling? In my experience, remembering that this is what tapping is all about has made a big difference in my practice.
*Sometimes high intensity feelings require that we cultivate a more gentle approach or sneak away from intensity. If you sense there is a need for gentleness because feelings are just too intense or triggering, remember to step back and work more peripherally, do some 'touching and breathing' or seek assistance from a more experienced EFT practitioner.
Jade Barbee is an Accredited Certified EFT Master Trainer of Trainers.