How To Use EFT To Soften Unpleasant Memories

In How To Use EFT To Solve Everyday Problems I described some of the difficulties people who are new to EFT have knowing where to start when they want to tackle a problem.

That article focused on using EFT to work with difficulties in the present. This article is designed to make it easier for newcomers to EFT (or anybody else) to take care of unpleasant memories, such as:

  • arguments
  • disappointments
  • embarrassment
  • accidents
  • and other mishaps

Unpleasant memories can be troublesome for two reasons:

1. Things we see, hear or feel in the present moment can remind us of earlier times.

If the memory is a good one then we welcome the feelings these “triggers” evoke. The memory of a good holiday or a success can leave us feeling happy or elated, but if the memories triggered were of difficult times, then we can be propelled back into whatever unpleasant feelings we had at that time.

Breaking the connection between the memory and the bad feelings can help inoculate us against those feelings being triggered again.

2. Repetitive experiences form the basis of our habits and behaviour traits.

We all learn things from our experiences, but what we learn from our experiences may not be very helpful.

Sometimes, when we look back on what we learnt we understand that it no longer serves us so we decide to do things differently in the future. Unfortunately, the part of us that learnt those responses is not very influenced by these understandings and we find ourselves repeating the same old patterns of behaviour.

Taking the emotional charge out of old memories is a good way to undermine those old unhelpful responses by learning new lessons from those experiences.

Becoming free from our memories and their legacy of unhelpful habits and responses can make a huge difference in our lives.

How to approach a memory

This process gives you a place to start and a way of breaking things down into tappable pieces.

Like the process for working with present moment issues this technique divides the memory into three aspects:

The situation: a description of what happened (including any judgements).

The others: a description of the part played by other people (if any) in these events.

Yourself: How you felt and reacted to these experiences.

Once again we will use a sentence completion, “fill in the blanks”, approach to unpacking what went on in that memory, so that the different aspects of that experience can be tapped on.

Pick a memory to run the process on. Bring it to mind in whatever way feels natural to you and try these steps out as we go on.

Remember, this process is for moderate memories so don’t try this out on your worst traumas, start with something workable.

It was …

This describes the overall experience, a general comment about what went on.

Complete the sentence “It was …” with whatever comes to mind.

For example:

  • It was a disaster
  • It was a huge disappointment
  • It was unforgivable
  • etc

Work through each of these sentences one at a time giving each one an intensity score from 0 – 10.

Once you have listed them you can tap out any high scoring sentences using the “it was …” sentence as the setup statement

Even though it was …, I accept myself and how I feel

Even though it was unforgivable, I accept myself and how I feel ” – use “unforgivable” as the reminder phrase.

They were …

Most of our experiences involve other people and we can be left with all sorts of judgements and fears about the other participants of that memory. Use this sentence stub to uncover all those thoughts and feelings about the other people in that situation.

Complete the sentence “They were …” with whatever comes to mind.

For example:

  • They were laughing at me
  • He was bullying me
  • She was looking down on me
  • They were very aggressive
  • etc

Note: You can replace “They were …” with “He was …” or “She was …” if that seems to be a better fit.

Work through each sentence giving it a score from 0-10

Tap out any high scoring sentences using the “they were …” sentence as the setup statement

Even though they were …, I accept myself and how I feel

Even though they were laughing at me, I accept myself and how I feel – use “laughing at me” as the reminder phrase.

I was …

In this section we unpack our part in what happened, what we did and how we felt in that situation.

Complete the sentence “I was …” as many times as possible, just writing down what comes to mind.

For example:

  • I was afraid
  • I was taken for granted
  • I felt humiliated
  • I hated them
  • I was devastated
  • etc

Note: If the phrase “I was” doesn’t quite fit, use the right words for you, whilst keeping them in the past tense.

Work through each sentence giving it a score from 0-10.

Tap out any high scoring sentences using the “I was …” sentence as the setup statement

Even though I was …, I accept myself and how I feel

E.g. “Even though I was devastated, I accept myself and how I feel” – use “devastated” as the reminder phrase.

Remember the memory now. What is it like for you now? It should have diminished a little in intensity. If there is still a charge run through the process again or you can use the standard EFT Movie or Tell The Story Techniques to clear any lingering problem.

Summary of the process

1. Get a piece of paper or download the  It Was ... Tapping Worksheet  for this process .

2. Briefly describe the memory giving it an overall score.

3. Start with “It was …”, making a list of sentences that start that way until you run out of sentence completions.

Note: Do not score or judge these sentences as you are going along. Aim to get as many sentence completions as possible, you will sift out the wheat from the chaff in the next step.

4. When you have completed your “It was …” list, work your way through each statement giving it an intensity score from 0-10.

5. Tap out all the high intensity items in this section using:

Even though it was …, etc.

(Or you can wait until the end when you have collected all the high intensity statements from each section before deciding which statement to tackle).

6. Write a list of sentences that start “They were … “. completing them with a list of thoughts, judgements and feelings about the other people who were involved in this situation.

7. Give each statement in that list an intensity score from 0-10.

8. Tap out all the high intensity statements from this section using:

Even though they were (he was, she was) …, etc.

9. Write a list of sentences that start “I was …”, completing it with all the reactions, feelings and thoughts that you experienced at the time.

10. Give each statement in that list an intensity score from 0-10.

11. Tap out all the high intensity statements from this section using:

Even though I was … etc.

12. Check back to the original memory. How does that feel now?

Important: While this approach is good for everyday painful memories, it is not intended for use with major traumatic incidents. If you think that the memory is too strong, or difficult, for this process or does not seem to shift, seek the help of an experienced practitioner who can help you process the memory safely.

Image courtesy of BigTallGuy

2 Responses to “How To Use EFT To Soften Unpleasant Memories”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Claire Hayes says:

    This is a very clear and useful way of approaching troublesome memories. This process will help people get away from the clutter of the memory. Thank you Andy!

  2. Andy says:

    You’re very welcome. I like to keep processes as simple as possible.

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