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Articles & Ideas

Core Issues

Collapsing the core issues of procrastination with EFT

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

Deborah Miller PhD from Mexico gives us a very detailed and creative look at how to help someone with procrastination issues. Note how she discovers many aspects and core issues and then insightfully collapses them with EFT.

Hugs, Gary

By Deborah Miller Ph.D., EFT-CC


I had the pleasure of working with a woman with serious procrastination problems.  She procrastinates all the time because she doesn’t know where to begin.  We focused on cleaning and organizing her room.  During the sessions we released core beliefs acquired from her perfectionist mother and judgmental father.  

Later, she spoke about how it was easy for her to take care of her garden.  We decided to treat her room as her garden so she could begin tending it with the same care and precision she uses in her garden.  Isn’t it fun to take something we know how to do well and apply it to areas where we feel stuck?  Now she is applying the same technique at her new job and enjoying how much easier it is to learn new things and take on new tasks.


Deborah Miller, Ph.D.


Nancy has a serious problem with procrastination. She can’t even get started much less finish something. She says she gets tangled up, starts too many things at once and then gets overwhelmed so she doesn’t accomplish anything.

The day we did the session she wanted to clean her bedroom, which included hanging up her clothes, unpacking a suitcase from a trip the week before, cleaning off the dust on the windowsills, and making the bed.  She wanted to make the bed first, but got up hung up when she saw the stuff she needed to put away and she didn’t know where it should go.

She went into her procrastination mode, sitting down and looking at the mess or going to another room.  She doesn’t understand this because cleaning your room is not rocket science.  She knows how to do all the things she has to do, so she gets angry and frustrated.

The first round included:

I can’t clean my bedroom.  

I feel overwhelmed, frustrated.

I can’t do it.

It’s not that hard.

It’s only my old training.

Being free to choose what I want to do first.

It doesn’t matter what item I choose to do first.

Freedom to choose.

At this point a memory about wanting to please her parents came up.  She always looked for ways to please them but never found them.  She felt sad.  We continued with: Sadness,

Pleasing my parents

Never being able to do so

Nothing was right

They never explained what they wanted

Just what they didn’t want

Not feeling good enough

After completing the first round, she remembered being a little girl sitting on the edge of her bed. She loved daydreaming so was content to sit there in her dream world.  She got in trouble, a spanking, because she was supposed to be getting ready for church but was sitting and thinking. Her mother was a perfectionist and her father judgmental.  She made the comment that she didn’t have time to be perfect like her mother was (meaning she was a working mother).

In the second round we continued with phrases such as:

Even though this little girl was supposed to be doing something else, getting ready for church, but she liked daydreaming, it was fun.  It felt good. It felt much better than getting spanked for not getting ready.

I still love that little girl.  She is a good girl.  She likes her imagination.  It’s much more fun than getting ready for church or cleaning her bedroom.

Even though she’d prefer thinking, her parents thought otherwise.  They had a different agenda.

They didn’t understand her and she was too young to be able to explain.

I forgive the little girl in me and my parents.

We didn’t understand each other.

The spanking hurt.  I didn’t deserve it.

I was just thinking and enjoying life.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

I tried so hard to be perfect.  To do everything right, just like my mommy did.

But I couldn’t.  I wasn’t like her. I was different. I was special.

It’s OK to be different.  I release that old pain.  We were learning even if we didn’t do it so well.

I was scared of doing things wrong, of not doing things the way my mom wanted them done, so I didn’t do them at all.

Now I feel stuck.  I can’t get started, because I might do it wrong.

I don’t want to do it wrong.  So I don’t. I don’t do anything. I don’t get started.

When we finished tapping she stated that the key phrases felt so right.  She could see herself as the little girl on bed, but she felt bigger, and she wasn’t sucking her thumb, something she did into adulthood.  She could see the house they lived in at that age.  Her mom was always working on the house, always cooking or cleaning.  Her dad would say something once and no one argued with him.

In the third round, we tapped on her being a little girl in that house.  Some phrases were:

My mom was always cooking and cleaning.  She was always busy.

She never had time for me, she was too busy making the house perfect, but forgetting about me.

Dad was there, I only remember that he would say something once, and that was it.

That overly organized house.  No wonder I don’t want to clean my room.

They were trying to be perfect and now I am too.

But I’m not perfect.

I don’t do things like my mom, my kids don’t listen to me like I listened to my father.

I choose to forgive myself for thinking all these years that I have to be my parents.

I choose to be free to have fun, to play, to work, to organize, to not organize, whatever I want.

I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t have to please my parents.  I can do things my way.

I am capable.

The order I do things may be different but I always complete them and I do them well.

After this round, she mentioned her dad used to make her get ice cream out of basement.  It was scary.  He was trying to make her brave but it didn’t work.  She was probably 6 years old at the time. Some phrases we used were:

My dad made me go in the basement to get the ice cream.

It was scary down there.  The freezer was in the corner, the far corner.

I didn’t like going down there alone.  I didn’t know what I’d find. I thought something was down there. I was terrified to go alone, but my dad made me.

It made me scared and I wanted to get angry, but you didn’t do that with my dad.

There were no options.  If he said get ice cream you did. I was so scared. I wanted him to go with me, but he wouldn’t. I was just a little girl. It was such a big basement and so dark.

After the round she mentioned that her dad would never let her win at cards.  She could never win.  We tapped:

My dad was competitive even with his kids, I’m afraid to win, to step forward, afraid to win, to step forward because if I do, then I might beat dad.  That isn’t allowed.

It makes sense that I can’t get things done, that would mean that I win.

I accept that I can win.  It doesn’t mean my dad has to lose. We can both win. I choose to be a winner.

I choose to accomplish things.  I choose to decide what and when to do things.

At this point Nancy saw a peach-rose color.  Upon questioning she remembered that it was the color of her room when she was the little girl sitting on the bed.  She mentioned that her dad was 6 ft 4 in.  When she was scared of him he seemed very big.  She also remembered her mother being angry with her when she threw up on the hardwood floor.  She felt so guilty. Her mother had just cleaned it.

This round we tapped:  anger, punishment, that it wasn’t a game (to be sent to the basement) it was punitive.

Then I included some phrases about cleaning her room such as:

Never been successful before.

Why should I think I’ll be successful now?

Because I let go of the past, I’m a perfect chooser.

I’m open to being successful, starting now, even if that only means I clean half my room today.

I choose how much I want to do, what order.

I choose to successfully clean my room.  I am a success.

That was the end of the first session.

In the second session we did a lot of chasing the pain, or in this case chasing the procrastination. I won’t include the details but overall information.  We tapped on other issues about her father, her own so-called inappropriate behaviors as seen from a child’s point of view, dating, relationships, sex was messy, belief that her mother didn’t have sex because it was too messy and dirty, how this led her to believe that she could do something better than her perfectionist mother, even if it was messy.

That led us to look at how her house is messy too.  She did the opposite of her mother whether healthy or not.  She realized that messy symbolized emptiness and confusion while orderly symbolized there was never confusion.

Then we got into some details about her mother.  Her mother was so clean that when she was a baby, her mother would take off her pinafore and repress it while she slept.  She would wash her shoelaces.  Nancy mentioned that her little one only had on a diaper.  She is still being the opposite of her mother.  We tapped on the following:

I was being the opposite of her, because it was impossible to be like her.

So now my house is mess, my room is mess, my desk is messy, part of my life feels messy.  I am mess.

I so wanted to be the opposite of my mother that I can’t get anything done.

I don’t even know where to begin.

It’s OK to be me.  To do things my way.

Now I choose to let go of these old beliefs that I have to be the opposite of my mom, and that I need to be messy to get attention, that if you are too orderly you don’t give your children the attention they need.

I am loveable, just as I am.  It doesn’t matter if I remember some of those details.  They are just details.

I choose now to focus on what makes me happy.  I am happy socializing, gardening, writing, cooking and entertaining, and content cleaning my house.

I am able to clean my house.  I know exactly where to begin. I begin. It gets easier every time I clean.

We discussed housecleaning and her not knowing where things need to go, what their proper place is, and how to be organized.  Her daughter, who came to help her organize one day, could be ruthless when deciding where things go, all without emotion, as if there is a system.  Whereas Nancy attaches emotion to things; how do you know if it goes in this pile, or that pile, maybe it should go over there.  She has lots of little things in her room whereas her mother was a minimalist. Again Nancy is being the opposite of her mother.

So we tapped on: knowing how to separate items … clean out … organize … being able to do this … doing an experiment …

Placing an art figure in the center of the bureau … then looking at it over the next few days … let myself feel if that is the right place … the best place.

If it is, that is wonderful … If it isn’t; I am free to move it to the left side of the bureau.  Then observe it and see how that feels.

I can make the decision at any point, of where is the best place.

I start to choose the best places for things … the best order to do things.

I choose to start with what I know.

I asked Nancy what she felt she could do and what she knew how to do and she responded, “Hang up my clothes.”  So we started with that.

I hang up my clothes.  I know where the best place is for them. I consistently hang up my clothes.

I feel good that I do that.  It shows that I can make a decision.

I do not procrastinate because I know where they go.  It feels good to put them there.

I like being orderly with clothes.  It is a great place to begin.

I hang up my clothes every day.  That shows me that I can get my room in order.  

I like hanging up my clothes.

It is a great symbol of my progress, of knowing where things go, of doing what I want to do.  So I do it with joy.

I had her hang up a shirt and asked her how it felt.  She said "Good."

After this round, Nancy mentioned that she has a garden.  She is good at organizing it.  It was in bad shape when she moved into her house.  She started pruning and digging, then planting flowers etc.  With a little time she got it in a great shape.

So I suggested that she do the same with her room; think of it as a garden.  Think of how she got the garden in shape, then compare her room to the garden, pick items that would represent pruning, digging, watering, etc.

We tapped a bit on how that would be.  

My room is like my messy garden was.

I got it in shape.  I can get my room in shape.

I imagine things in my room as parts of my garden.

I start with one corner just like in the garden.

I get it cleaned up.  I prune, add soil, water.

I pick up, arrange and clean up.  I throw things out that are waste.

I arrange things.

I see it becoming beautiful like my garden.

I let its beauty shine.

I tend my room like I tend my garden, with tender care, patience and love.

She was excited about organizing her room. 

Deborah Miller


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.