By removing emotional trauma, EFT helps heal physical symptoms too.
Norm Shealy, MD
Author of Soul Medicine.
Customizing Your EFT Setup Phrases During Tapping
Intro to Free Flowing EFT Tapping Language
So now begins your adventure into the free flowing EFT language that you see me use repeatedly on the many advanced videos available on this website. By targeting the disruption with more detailed language, the client can focus on it more completely and bring up parts of it that may have otherwise been hidden to you both. The intensity tends to fall faster, aspects show up more readily, the “0” ratings tend to be more accurate, and the cognitive shifts tend to happen more frequently. You will find there are a lot of different ways to accomplish the same goals with the language, so experiment with it and have fun.
In Part II, you learned to design basic Setup and Reminder Phrases for your tapping rounds. Now we can look at the purpose of that language in more detail and experiment with ways to enhance your results by expanding on it. Properly done, what you are about to learn adds elegance and efficiency to the EFT process.
Before we go any further, it is very important to realize that the mechanical skills used in delivering the Tell the Story Technique, Movie Technique and the other tools for addressing Specific Events are the foundation for everything you will learn in this part of the Tutorial. No matter how you decide to experiment with your language, the structure of those tools should remain completely intact. Following those instructions will insure that you continue to be specific, find all the aspects, and recognize testing opportunities when you have them.
The Purpose of the EFT Language
Just to review, the purpose of the Setup phrase is twofold:
- To identify the problem
- To accept oneself despite the presence of the problem
The purpose of the Reminder phrase is to maintain the client’s focus on the problem while we realign the related energy disruption.
In this article we introduce ways to expand the Setup language to include a more detailed description of the aspect we are addressing, while we continue to accomplish the original goals of that language. Here we assume that you are using the Tell the Story Technique and have access to all details of the event. We will present modifications for the other tools later in the article.
The Extended Setup Phrase
The Extended Setup Phrase will help you shift from a brief word about the problem to a more complete description. This will not only target the upset more effectively, it will be a more personal, individualized experience for your client.
Once you have chosen a Specific Event to address, and are dealing with an aspect or crescendo therein, detailed instructions for each tapping round follow below.
- Instead of saying “Even though I have this ____________”, use the ___________ to describe the event or aspect as though you, or your client, were telling it to a friend (examples will follow).
- When working with clients, using their words will often be the most effective for their issues, so listen carefully to their descriptions and repeat them back to them once you start tapping. This is not a hard and fast rule, however. As you watch my full length sessions on the Art of Delivery videos, you will see that I sometimes deviate from their language or may even use opposite or confronting language. This is part of testing or forms of exploration and comes from my own intuition and experience. These are skills you will develop over time. For now, use the clients own words.
- Continue tapping on the KC point until the description is complete, and be sure to end the description with "I deeply and completely accept myself."
- As you repeat their descriptions to them, you will notice that a few key words will generate more intensity than the rest, so use those few words as your reminder phrases, and continue through the sequence as usual. If you don’t know which words to use for the reminder phrase, take a guess and check in with your client before the next round. Remember … the purpose of the reminder phrase is to stay tuned in to the problem.
- You can go through the points a few times in a row if it feels right, but be sure to test specific intensities before and after each round to evaluate your progress.
- A “round” can now include one Setup procedure and a few times through the sequence. Just remember that we aren’t trying to clear everything in one marathon round, so be sure you begin with a new Setup for each aspect.
If you have decided that a global approach is best at the beginning, you can use a few phrases to describe the event rather than just a movie title. However, as always with EFT, this new approach to language will be even more effective when directed at the individual aspects.
Once you begin the Tell the Story Technique, you can use these instructions to describe what was happening at each crescendo you tap on. That description can include emotions, physical sensations or just the details of that moment.
Extended Setup Phrase - An Example
Here is an example of the Extended Setup Phrase in action.
Your client has an upsetting event in which an uncle embarrassed him in front of his friends, and describes it like this:
“When I was 10 years old my uncle embarrassed me in front of some girls and I never forgot it.”
If the intensity is high enough to justify a "take the edge off" global approach at first, your Setup statement might look like this:
“Even though my uncle embarrassed me in front of those girls and I never forgot it, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Your reminder phrase could be “he embarrassed me,” “I was so embarrassed,” “he did it in front of those girls,” or “I never forgot it” … whichever seems to relate most to the disruption.
Keep in mind that if we are doing Tell the Story Technique correctly, we do not know any other details yet, so we are limited for material to use in the global approach.
Starting from a neutral spot, the client starts to tell the story:
“When I was ten years old, I was out on the front lawn with some kids from the neighborhood. We were just goofing off, but then a few cute girls we knew came over to say hello. I had always been shy, so I was nervous and afraid of saying something stupid.”
At that point, the client feels intensity, so you stop the story, get an intensity rating, and ask the client which part of that moment causes the most discomfort. Your Extended Setup might look something like this:
“Even though those girls walked up and I was really nervous, I deeply and completely accept myself. I was so afraid of saying something stupid because I had always been shy and these girls were really cute. Even though I still feel nervous about that now, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Reminder phrases could be “I was really nervous,” “afraid of saying something stupid,” “they were really cute girls”, “I was still feeling shy,” or you could combine them by using a different one at each point.
The story continues …
“My uncle, who is always cracking jokes, pulled into the driveway to see my Dad, but decided to come over to our group first. He grabbed my head and messed up my hair as he said ‘Are these your girlfriends?’” ... and now we find some new intensity.
Your Extended Setup might look like this:
“Even though my uncle grabbed my head, messed my hair up, and said that embarrassing thing in front of my friends, in front of those really cute girls, and I really felt like an idiot, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Reminder phrases could be “he grabbed my head,” “he messed up my hair,” “I felt like an idiot,” “he asked if they were my girlfriends” or “I was so embarrassed.”
The story continues …
“Then he turned to the whole group and said ‘You know, he used to be terrified of girls … do you remember when little Stacey came over and you peed in your pants? Glad he’s over that!’ He let go of my head and walked away, while the whole group was laughing hysterically. I was so completely embarrassed I felt like peeing my pants again.”
This is the biggest crescendo of the story with the highest intensity so far and lots of aspects to choose from. Your Extended Setup Phrase might look like this:
“Even though my uncle said that and everyone laughed at me, including those cute girls, I deeply and completely accept myself. He told them that I’m afraid of girls, he told them I peed my pants, I was so completely embarrassed! I was already nervous, I have always been shy, I was so completely embarrassed and I felt like peeing my pants again. Even though I was only ten, it was really uncomfortable, and I wish it never happened, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway.”
Reminder phrases could be “he told them I’m afraid of girls,” “he told them I peed my pants,” “everyone was laughing at me,” “my friends were laughing,” “the cute girls were laughing,” or “I was completely embarrassed.”
Now, as we can understand, the client may get through some of this intensity on the embarrassment and switch aspects so that he is really angry with his uncle for doing that. He describes it to you like this:
“You know, I’m really angry with him for doing that in front of my friends. I was counting on him to be on my side and help me be accepted, but instead he made me look like a loser. He should have known better.”
Your Extended Setup for this new aspect might look like this:
“Even though I’m really angry with my uncle for embarrassing me in front of my friends, I deeply and completely accept myself. I was counting on him to be on my side and help me be accepted, but instead he made me look like a loser. What good are uncles if they can’t help you look cool? I wish I had a different uncle because this one isn’t doing his job. Even though I was really angry, maybe even furious, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Reminder phrases could be “Boy am I angry,” “I was counting on him,” “I looked like a loser,” “He was supposed to be helping me,” “He did the opposite and I’m really angry,” “He’s not doing his job,” “I want a new uncle.”
Remember that expanding the Setup language to include a more detailed description can help you target a specific disruption more completely and deliver faster, more thorough results. However, it can also take you back toward global territory if you aren’t careful.
One common mistake is using this extended format to describe an entire event, or even an entire Tabletop, in one Setup phrase. That would be too many disruptions to tackle at once. Use your language to describe a specific crescendo in a Specific Event, or the aspects thereof, and you’ll be fine.
As you experiment with different Reminder Phrases, pay attention to your client’s reactions to each of them, as some will generate more intensity than others. The purpose of the Reminder Phrase is to keep your client focused on the disruption we are trying to address, so the ones bringing up the intensity are the better ones to use.
Remember to test emotional intensity before and after each tapping round. If there is still intensity, there are still aspects to be addressed. To be completely thorough, test every aspect, every crescendo, and each reminder phrase for intensity to see where any remaining upset might be hiding. Re-visit the Testing article for many ways to test.
Once you are comfortable using the above revision, you’re ready for the next step.
The Setup/Reminder Combination
The Setup/Reminder Combination is simply an Extended Setup Phrase that is carried through as you tap the points in the sequence. In essence, this extended description of the issue can also be used to target and trigger the energy disruption, so it does the job of the Setup and Reminder phrases in one step.
Specific instructions follow below:
- Start your Extended Setup as instructed above while tapping on the KC point.
- After 15-20 taps, continue saying the description as you move to the sequence points.
- Be sure you add some form of “I deeply and completely accept myself” as you tap through the points. (see other options below)
- Add in a more focused reminder phrase if a good one pops up.
- Allowing your client to add new words as they show up will help you zero in on their issue more effectively. This also creates an environment for rapport as you and your client work together to "get the words right."
In the video below, I give an example of working with the client using the Setup/Reminder Combination so that the words are aimed properly at the issue. By way of background, the client has Cystic Fibrosis and the immediate issue has to do with his father dying while they were in the process of doing EFT workshops together. Much of the language I use here came from earlier in the session and, as a precursor to an upcoming article, the language involves some exposure to the art of reframing.
The only difference between this version and the Extended Setup is that there isn’t a distinction between the Setup and the Reminder phrases. To apply this properly, you will need to be using the phrases that trigger the most intense emotion for your client, so you have to pay particular attention to body language and feedback as you produce the phrases and tap the points. Again, for best results, focus on one aspect at a time, whether that is a single emotion or a specific crescendo, and be very specific with your testing.
Let’s use the last crescendo from the previous example and create a good Setup/Reminder Combination…
Client description: “Then he turned to the whole group and said ‘You know, he used to be terrified of girls … do you remember when little Stacey came over and you peed in your pants? Glad he’s over that!’ He let go of my head and walked away, while the whole group was laughing hysterically. I was so completely embarrassed I felt like peeing my pants again.”
Your Extended Reminder Phrase might look like this:
- KC “Even though my uncle said that and everyone laughed at me, including those cute girls, I deeply and completely accept myself. He told them I’m afraid of girls, he told them I peed my pants, I was so completely embarrassed! I was already nervous, I have always been shy, I was so completely embarrassed and I felt like peeing my pants again. Even though I was only ten, it was really uncomfortable, and I wish it never happened, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway.”
- We’ll assume that you have used a variety of simple reminder phrases:
- TOH he embarrassed me
- EB I was ten years old
- SE they were all laughing at me
- UE I was really embarrassed
- UN completely embarrassed
- Ch the cute girls were laughing
- CB that was really uncomfortable
- UA he embarrassed me
And here's a possible Setup Reminder Combination:
- KC Even though my uncle said that and everyone laughed at me, including those cute girls, I deeply and completely accept myself. He told them I’m afraid of girls,
- TOH he told them I peed my pants,
- EB I was so completely embarrassed!
- SE I was already nervous,
- UE I have always been shy,
- UN and I felt like peeing my pants again.
- Ch Even though I was only ten,
- CB it was really uncomfortable,
- UA and I wish it never happened,
- KC I deeply and completely accept myself anyway.
You can end on any point in the sequence, as long as you have gone through all of the points at least once. Remember to test the emotional intensity of each aspect or crescendo on a 0-10 scale at the end of the round.
Other forms of “I deeply and completely accept myself.”
If you have been using the Basic Setup for a while, you may be tired of saying “I deeply and completely accept myself” for each and every Setup procedure. At this point, you are welcome to adopt any of the following alternatives to that phrase, or any that you design yourself, as long as it accomplishes the same goal of accepting oneself in spite of the problem.
- That’s Okay
- I’m okay with that
- I love myself anyway
- I can accept that
- I forgive myself
- I’m entitled to feel that way
- I’m still a really great person
When clients are not OK with accepting themselves
Sometimes clients just can't say, "I deeply and completely accept myself." They may stammer over the words or even break into tears at the prospect of saying it. This points, of course, to a an important Tabletop to address. Accordingly, you may wish to switch directions and look for the Specific Events and core issues behind “I can’t accept myself.” Chances are, the issues you find will be connected to the one the client presented.
If the client can’t articulate any specific contributors to “I can’t accept myself,” start with a few general rounds and see what comes up.
You could also try going back to the original issue with something like:
- I can accept parts of myself, but not that part
- I’m open to the possibility of accepting myself
- I might be able to accept myself
- I’m really trying to accept myself
- I hope that someday I will accept myself
You might also try “Even though I don’t accept myself, I accept myself anyway.”
As you get used to this “telling it to a friend” format, it may feel natural for you to “elaborate” on it for them, or tune into similar experiences of your own and suggest words or phrases that may help your client express themselves more completely.
For example, your client is sharing details of a fight she had with her boyfriend and says, “I spent two hours getting ready for the dinner out that we had planned, but he worked late and we missed our reservation.” Assuming we are addressing the crescendo in the story when he called to say dinner was off, we could easily use the client’s language to design a Setup. She may have also said that she was angry, but if you have some other words to suggest you might explore it a little more by saying something like “if that happened to me I might have felt left out or forgotten or maybe even abandoned.” If the client confirms it in some way, like “Yes! Exactly! I was angry because he abandoned me,” then you have a better expression of that moment.
In this example, we are making the suggestion in conversation between tapping rounds and getting confirmation from the client before using any new language. With practice, you can also throw new words into a Setup or Reminder Phrase to see if they fit, which means you aren’t checking with your client in advance. In that case, you’re using your own “elaboration” of your client’s experience and looking for his or her reaction in the moment.
This is where we introduce the concept of “landing.” When you suggest words that “land” with your client, that means you have helped them express their feelings better, your words “resonate” with their experience, and you have targeted a disruption more directly. When your words don’t “land” with the client, you risk breaking rapport with them, adding resistance to the process, and “leading” them in a way that is not seen as good professional conduct.
Elaborating, or throwing new language into a tapping round, is an “on the fly” technique so you have to be aware of when you’re doing it, and remain focused on your client’s reaction to your words. There are several ways your client can let you know that your words are “working for them,” like nodding, smiling, sometimes crying, or just some verbal cue like “yup, that’s it.”
Whether the language you use lands with the client or not is extremely important. If you suggest rather than impose, and be conservative rather than invasive, you will have much better luck. Introducing your suggestions with phrases like “maybe,” “possibly,” or “do you think that….” gives your client the opportunity to accept the words that fit for them and leave the other ones out, thus preserving your relationship. You will see plenty of examples of elaboration in the Art of Delivery videos.
There is no requirement to produce language of your own in any session, but it can be something that starts to feel natural after some practice. You may also find that your elaborations can come from different sources. The most common would be the Writing on your Walls or, more simply, your own experiences as a human being on this planet. Also, you may eventually tune in more intuitively to your client and be able to produce words or phrases from a “higher source.” No matter where the language comes from, it won’t be effective unless your client accepts it.
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