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Articles & Ideas


Why do people resist 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Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Part 1 of 2
Part 2 of 2

This 2 part series by Dr. Patricia Carrington explores an important concept which serious students will want to contemplate.

By Dr. Patricia Carrington

Part 1of 2

Imagine that you are an enthusiastic user of EFT who is recommending it to everyone you know. Then imagine the unimaginable - namely that only sometimes do you remember to use it at times when it would actually be most beneficial to you. If this description fits you or someone you know, you are not alone.

One of the most frequent comments I hear is, "I do use EFT when under extreme pressure like during a medical procedure, or if I'm in an accident, or if I receive a sudden shocking piece of news, and so forth, and I use it for many everyday things - but I don't seem to remember to use it when I'm VERY UPSET emotionally. When I feel a lot of anxiety or anger, for example, EFT just doesn't occur to me as an option."

Why is this puzzling "blind spot" reported by so many people, and not just with respect to EFT but actually for all other self-help procedures as well?

An interesting theory about this phenomenon can be seen in a recent issue of Gary Craig's newsletter written by Dr. Catherine Saltzman. The article points out a tendency that we all have to regress to earlier stages of our own development when under high stress. She calls this psychological maneuver "Age Capacities" and considers it the cause of our tendency to forget to use EFT when under high stress - that is, we didn't know EFT at the earlier ages to which we now "return" under pressure. Her article is well worth reading and provides many insights into the EFT resistance phenomenon.

I would like to add two other explanations to hers. Neither of them disagrees with Catherine Saltzman's points but rather they supplement them.

I have observed that one of the main reasons we don't think about, or want to use EFT at times when we are experiencing intense emotion, has to do with what I have called the "monitor." The monitor is that part of our minds that stands apart from us and evaluates incoming information, and then selects an appropriate response from the many possible ones that we have stored in our memory banks. Our monitor is like a beacon of a lighthouse that sweeps back and forth continuously, surveying a broad landscape to detect signs of danger. It is an essential faculty that we use much of the time.

Unfortunately however, when we experience strong negative feelings such as anger, fear, grief, and the like, our monitor closes down. It is as though the lighthouse keeper had readjusted the beam so that instead of swinging in a wide arc of 180 degrees (or more) to survey a wide landscape, it now swings in a narrow 10 or 15 degree arc to identify a particular danger. This can reduce our effectiveness radically. The searchlight's beam it is now zeroing in on only a small portion of the landscape, the one where our mind thinks an emergency is occurring.

This shutting down of the monitor under strong emotion brings the equivalent of "emotional tunnel vision." It's as though we were wearing blinders. Not only do we fail to see the forest for the trees, but we're lucky if we see even an individual tree, or part of one! Meanwhile, the whole forest might be burning down, and we might not even know it. Restricting awareness to such a narrow focus can be dangerous, so it's scarcely surprising that at such times we aren't motivated to remember to use an ordinarily helpful technique such as EFT.

If we then experience panic, our monitor will shut down even more. A life-threatening situation or one perceived as endangering our sense of identity or personal meaning can close down our monitor to a point where our judgment is severely impaired.

A friend of mine remembers a time when he was attending the theater with his girlfriend. They had a good seat in the second row orchestra when a fire broke out backstage and the audience was requested to leave in an orderly fashion.

Looking around, he quickly spotted an exit door nearby and started to guide her towards it. To his surprise, however, she broke away from him and began to push her way in the opposite direction -- into the center aisle which was already jammed with scrambling people.

He caught her arm, pointing out that they could leave by a nearby side exit, but she was deaf to his words. Her monitor had shut down so completely that all she could figure out was that the center aisle eventually led to the front door and she pushed herself into the mass of struggling bodies.

He left by the side exit and waited for her in front of the theater for 20 minutes until she finally emerged, trembling, as the desperate crowd struggled out through that one set of doors.

This kind of irrational behavior demonstrates what we are up against when we expect a person (or ourselves) to have the good judgment to use EFT when we feel severely threatened (for whatever reason.) If an overwhelming emotion has this effect on us, "goodbye" to EFT or any other constructive technique for calming ourselves -- -- unless we have prepared ourselves beforehand to cope with an upcoming stressful event, or unless EFT has become second nature to us when we are confronted with a severe threat.

There is a problem, however. involved in planning ahead to use EFT when under high emotion because, when we are confronted by danger, EFT itself may seem threatening to us. We may fear that EFT will weaken our defenses -- and we are hard-wired to defend ourselves from weakness in the face of danger.

One method of combating our tendency to recoil from any attempt to use EFT when we feel we must fight for our lives (or for our honor, or identify) is to sit down at a non-stressed moment and make a list of our own personal "triggers", those situations or people that may leave can cause us such discomfort that our effectiveness can suffer seriously. Once you know what they are, these negative triggers can become a positive signal for you to start using EFT right on the spot. You may want to tap on many EFT statements with respect to these triggers ahead of time.

The point is that if you allow your monitor to close -- and it usually does this automatically if you aren't on guard against it -- this may cancel your use of EFT along with all other positive options, so you will actually need to train yourself to use EFT when you need it most. This can be done most effectively by using EFT itself in anticipation of exceptionally stressful circumstances that can occur in life. You might use an EFT statement such as the following for that purpose:

"Even though I tend to forget to use EFT when I'm in danger, I choose to start using EFT immediately if I feel endangered."

In my next article I will suggest two other possible reasons for resisting EFT when it is needed most.

Patricia Carrington, Ph.D.

Part 2 of 2

In the first article in this two-part series I discussed the shutting down of what I call the "monitor" (that part of our minds that stands apart from us and evaluates incoming information, and then selects an appropriate response from the many possible ones we have stored in our memory banks). The closing down of the monitor in distressing situations can make us forget to use EFT even though we may be an avid EFT user at all other times.

Today I'm going to suggest another reason why EFT users may resist using EFT. It is that we are hard-wired to resist calming down if we think we are in danger. At such a time we feel that our survival depends on mobilizing our emergency responses. For example, if you were to discover that your house was burning down your survival tactic would be to create fear. This is because fear motivates us to escape and our survival instinct will not allow us to get rid of the fear unless we convert that fear into something we consider equally self-protective.

The result of this is that people often don't want to use EFT under extremely stressful circumstances because at that particular moment they are convinced that their intense feelings -- -- whether they be anger, fear or some other emotion -- are NECESSARY in order to protect themselves!

An example of this might be someone who is extremely angry. Many times I have seen such a person become threatened if it is suggested to them that they use some tactic to calm down their angry feelings. All that person wants to do at that moment is to rid themselves of what they perceive as an enemy.

One of the EFT statements that can be effective for a person experiencing intense anger or another strong emotion that they don't want to let go of is:

"Even though I'd like to (punch, smash, kill, etc.), (that person), I choose to handle him/her in the best possible way."

This can often work because no matter how enraged we may be, few of us wouldn't want to handle the situation that enrages them in the "best possible way" for this would obviously increase our safety. This statement can be useful because it is not likely to be construed as an effort to weaken us by robbing us of our righteous (protective) anger, but instead will be seen as strengthening us. The interesting thing is that as we tap along this may begin to take the edge off our anger so that it actually lessens!

Among other EFT statements that can be useful in motivating us to use EFT when experiencing intense emotions are:

1. "Even though I'm very upset (angry, etc.), I choose to keep a level head about this."

This can be an acceptable statement for many people because most of us want to be able to be clearheaded even when enraged or otherwise in distress. Tapping on this statement doesn't feel as though it were weakening us and is much less apt to be resisted.

2. "Even though I'm very upset (angry, etc.), I choose to wait until I understand this better." This is another good choice because, used in a crisis, it allows you to buy time to clear your mind. This statement is seen as furthering your safety and tapping on it feels both safe and wise.

3. "Even though I'm very upset (angry, etc.), I choose to find a helpful answer for everyone concerned" is a statement that also appears non-threatening and useful even to a frightened mind, and can often be used when tapping without resistance.

To summarize, we tend to resist using EFT when experiencing exceptionally strong emotions because our body and subconscious mind believe that our intense emotion is going to save us and therefore that it must not be interfered with. The best strategy in such cases is to use EFT statements that counteract the immediate self protective instinct, ones that will make you feel it's "perfectly safe" to allow yourself to calm down -- that your identity or very life will not be threatened by doing so.

Using such strategies should make EFT more appealing to you at times of intense emotion. In fact, if you do this you may remember to use EFT when you need it the most!

Patricia Carrington, PhD


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