Tapping Into Hidden Emotions

    Tapping Into Hidden Emotions

    Tapping Into Hidden Emotions

    18 Feb 2024 by Andy Hunt Advanced eft

    This technique is for experienced practitioners only.

    If you are a tapping practitioner, you know that when you are tapping, you are working with feelings.

    Tapping is a very effective way of moderating stressful and distressing feelings so that we, and our clients,  can become more relaxed and comfortable. All you need is the ability to tap and to tune into the feelings you want to soothe.

    This sounds easy in principle, but what if the feelings you want to soothe don’t want to be felt?

    Hiding unsafe feelings

    Some feelings are very intense, and people’s capacity to tolerate those feelings can be limited by their emotional history. Those feelings may be too painful, shameful, disallowed, or outside the person’s window of tolerance.

    The client, who doesn’t want to feel these feelings, may consciously decide that ‘they don’t want to go there’ and will refuse to do so (as is their right) or go into ‘distraction’ mode, steering themselves away from those troublesome feelings.

    Sometimes the client’s unconscious mind will make it difficult to access those feelings, even if consciously they are desperate to deal with the issues that are troubling them.

    Some of this unconscious protection (some practitioners think of this as avoidance, but it is just one of the ways clients try to stay safe) shows up metaphorically when the client gets too close to something uncomfortable.

    They may say something like “It’s all gone foggy”, “There is a cloud around me”, “All of a sudden I feel tired”, “I feel numb”, “there is a wall”, etc. They are protective metaphors designed to shield the client from what they don’t want to feel (mild forms of dissociation).

    These metaphors are important psychological defences that help keep the distressing feelings hidden.

    The practitioner can use these metaphors to uncover and work with what is being hidden.

    Uncovering hidden feelings

    In the real world, for something to be hidden, it must be out of view, concealed by something else.

    Some examples:

    • your private thoughts are hidden inside a journal
    • the spare house key is hidden underneath a flower pot
    • the wall safe is hidden behind a painting on a wall

    Physical objects can be hidden inside, underneath, or behind other things.

    In the metaphorical world, fog, numbness, clouds, walls, and tiredness can all be the ‘things’ that hide painful feelings.

    We may be able to access what has been hidden with a simple question.

    “If there was something inside, underneath, or behind that fog (cloud, tiredness, etc), what would it be?"

    For example:

    If my client is tapping away, processing feelings, then tells me that it’s as if she is in a fog bank.

    I can ask: “If there was something inside, underneath, or behind that fog, what would it be?".

    She might say rage, or fear, or shame, or something else. Now we can tap directly on the feeling(s) that have been revealed.

    Hypothetically speaking

    Pay attention to the hypothetical form of the question

    If there was something inside, underneath, or behind [X], what would it be?

    The wording of the question as a hypothetical is important, it gives the client space to come up with an answer without conscious mind censorship.

    If you were to just ask, “What is inside, underneath, or behind [X]?” It would make it harder for the client to ‘go inside’ to answer the question.

    Top Tips

    • Ask the hypothetical question directly and with a natural tone, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to ask. Your straightforward manner and expectation of an answer will ‘help’ your client find what is needed.
    • Work with exactly what they have told you, be careful and go slow.
    • If another hiding place shows up later, ask the question again, don’t assume that it’s the same thing being hidden in each place.


    Don’t try this at home, folks.

    The hidden feelings are being hidden for a very good reason, and you need a skilled practitioner to gently help you process these feelings.

    • Only try this question if the client feels safe with you, the answer might be quite dangerous for them.
    • If the client doesn’t want to go there, don’t push it. The client’s protective mechanisms need to be protected. They will go there when they feel safe enough, you won’t make it safe by pushing.
    • Don’t use this if you suspect that your client is heading into full-blown dissociation.
    • If you suspect what has been ‘hidden’ is related to an extreme trauma, this is not the technique to use, because it may provoke a full blown dissociation or abreaction.

    Image by Leandro De Carvalho from Pixabay

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