How To Remember To Tap In Stressful Situations

Image courtesy of Tsahi Levent-Levi

When asked: “What is your biggest problem with EFT?”

One of my newsletter readers answered: “I often forget to use it in acute situations where I would greatly benefit from it (rising anxiety in a situation that makes me nervous)”

If people report that they get so much benefit from EFT, why do they forget to tap in difficult situations?

I think there are three reasons why someone would forget to tap when they need to.

1. Hijacked By Strong Emotions

EFT is really good for settling strong emotions. Anyone who has used it will know that painful emotional states are quickly softened by using EFT.

Unfortunately strong emotional states, particularly those related to fear and anxiety reduce our ability to think straight. It’s as if the plug gets pulled on our thinking mind and we go into a less resourceful state of mind.

In such an emotional state it’s difficult to remember to use the tapping to reduce the emotions that are causing us to forget to tap.

We usually need to be in a settled emotional state to start the tapping process.

Being a calm therapist to ourselves when we are agitated is not so easy.

One of the jobs of an EFT practitioner or therapist is to remind us to tap and to keep us going during the process so that we can work with whatever is going on even if our own emotional state would stop us from using the tapping.

2. The Strongest Habit Wins

Much of what we do is habit.

We learned to brush our teeth, ride a bicycle or drive a car. At the time that learning process took some effort and practice, but once we had those behaviour patterns hard wired into our system we could call on them whenever we need them.

When it’s time to drive or brush our teeth we just do what we need to do, we don’t have to think about it too much. We can handle those tasks almost automatically and without thinking. That is the value of habits, pre-packaged behaviours that are ready to use at a moment’s notice.

Among our many habits we have specific habits for managing our stress. We probably learned these de-stressing habits at an early age. Perhaps we bite our fingernails, hold our breath, eat a bar of chocolate.

We amass a range of stress relief habits over time and we automatically call on them when the need arises. When we are under stress we go back to our most familiar, deeply ingrained habits.

If you don’t have an ingrained tapping habit, the chances are that when a stressful situation arises you will revert to the earlier, more familiar habit, even if that is much less effective than tapping. You may know how to tap and that tapping is good for you on an intellectual level, but your first response is to bite your fingernails or look for a bar of chocolate. The established habit takes precedence.

3. We Don’t Want To Get Over The Problem

It is also possible that at some level we have blocks about getting over this emotional difficulty.

Perhaps we believe we should suffer in this particular way, or that it’s not possible for us to change our experience, or we are not capable of dealing with this situation, or even that we don’t deserve to get over this problem. If any of these blocks are present then we will be inhibited from taking the necessary action to do something about it.

Our beliefs will give us, or deny us, permission to act and the ability to see solutions. Unfortunately these limiting beliefs and blocks work at an unconscious level and we don’t see, hear, feel, smell or taste their presence even though they strongly influence our experience and our behaviour.

How can we remember to tap?

Paradoxically, the solution to this problem is not about remembering to tap at particularly stressful times, it is about making consciously remembering to tap unnecessary.

It is about dealing with as much stress in advance as you can, establishing a tapping habit so that EFT is the natural thing to do and to eliminate any blocks you may have to resolving whatever is bothering you.

1. Deal With Stress Before It Happens

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure

There are two kinds of stressful experience: the expected and the unexpected.

Many of our stressful experiences are repetitive. They have an “Oh, no. Here we go again!” quality about them. Maybe they are challenging meetings at work, the difficult visits to your in-laws, the ongoing dispute with your neighbours. Whatever it is, it happens on a regular basis, you know it’s coming and you might even dread it.

The predictable nature of these incidents gives you an advantage. If you know you are going to have to make a presentation to your boss on Friday and it’s only Monday that gives you time to prepare mentally and emotionally.

Now you have an opportunity to use EFT to work on the stress involved in the upcoming event before you get stressed. If your thinking brain is still online you will be able to process the emotions and put yourself in a resourceful state to deal with the real event when it arrives.

Take care of recurring problems first.

This strategy has three advantages:

  1. It is much easier than dealing with the stressor when it arises. If you are in the middle of a difficult meeting with your boss, starting to tap is probably not going to help improve his opinion of you. Working on your stress in advance is going to be easier to do and make you more resourceful during the event.
  2. It will make make life easier for you. If most of our stress is repetitive then neutralising these stressors is going to help make your life a lot easier. If the overall stress burden is reduced then you will have more resources available to deal with unexpected problems when they arise and you get all the other benefits of having less stress in your life.
  3. It has beneficial side effects. If you systematically diffuse your overall stress levels then you will probably find yourself being less triggered by the unexpected because the common triggers that upset you will have been worked on as part of your clean up process. Taking care of your common stressors will help you stay clearer in novel situations.

See the Ping Pong process for one way to use EFT to deal with recurring stressful events.

Coping with the unexpected

The unexpected situation is when your boss comes over and says “I’d like you to come to my office and do a presentation on the project you are working on in 10 minutes” or “Daddy, John has just fallen over and cut his head open”.

There isn’t much time to prepare in these situations, you may have a few minutes discretionary time to find somewhere quiet to do some furious tapping, or no time at all to prepare, you just have to take action.

The best way to prepare for these kinds of events is to take care of them afterwards so that you can neutralise the emotional charge in the experience so it doesn’t get established as a new stress trigger.

Do regular clean up of your previous one-off stressful experiences using the movie technique or It was … process

2. Establish The Tapping Habit

If you want EFT to be at your fingertips (no pun intended) when you get stressed then you need to establish it as your go-to stress relief habit. So that it automatically gets selected when the going gets tough.

For that to happen you need to use EFT on a daily basis on as many different issues as possible so that it becomes a natural way to deal with difficult emotional situations.

Not only will this install EFT as your stress relief habit of choice it will also let you clear up a lot of stuff in your life.

For more about establishing the tapping habit you can take my online Tapping Habit course for free.

3. Undo The Blocks

If you have unconscious blocks to resolving your difficulties the challenge is to find them. Once they have been identified taking care of them with EFT can be quite straightforward.

One way to discover these blocks is to say out loud each of the following belief statements and assess their truth from 0 (false) to 10 (true).

  • I don’t want to get over …
  • It’s not possible to get over …
  • I’m not capable of getting over …
  • I don’t deserve to get over …

For example let’s imagine that one of your difficult situations is to feel stressed during a work meeting. Your statements may look like this.

  • I don’t want to get over being stressed at meetings (2/10)
  • It’s not possible for me to get over being stressed at meetings. (2/10)
  • I’m not capable of getting over being stressed at meetings (8/10)
  • I don’t deserve to get over being stressed at meetings (2/10)

In this case the statement I’m not capable of getting over being stressed at meetings is worth investigating.

One way of doing this is to use the word because to prompt your mind to come up with limitations.

Complete the sentence

“I’m not capable of getting over being stressed at meetings, because …

This may come up with a list of reasons that become your tapping statements

  • because … I am intimidated by the boss (5/10)
  • because … I feel inferior to my colleagues (3/10)
  • because … I always make a fool of myself (8/10)
  • because … they all look down on me (2/10)
  • because … etc, etc

Give each statement its own intensity score and get to work on the highest one first.

For more information about finding limiting beliefs read How to find limiting beliefs with just one word

If you process the repetitive stressors, establish a habit and take care of any limiting beliefs then you will find it much easier to call on your EFT when you need it and after all that work you may find you need it a lot less.

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