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Release the Emotional Charge with Tapping

Teenager practicing relaxation exercise called EFT or emotional freedom technique

A few words about tapping: I really like it.

What is Tapping?

Emotional freedom technique, also referred to as tapping or psychological acupuncture, is a simple practice. It helps to reduce the emotional charge in the mind/body of the current stress (e.g., difficult emotions or thoughts, fears, phobias, or old stories, scripts or memories that still affect you now). It combines the following elements:

(1) Tapping with your pointer and index fingers on acupressure points (along the meridians based on traditional Chinese medicine), on your hands, head and torso.

(2) Stating aloud the distress/problem at hand (emotional exposure expressed in a cognitive phrase) paired with a compassion and acceptance phrase. This set-up is expressed as an “even though” statement while tapping on the side of the hand three times.

I also see this as compassionately holding the paradox of self-doubt with self-acceptance — of embracing both the suffering and the joy.

(3) This is followed with reminder phrases on the rest of the points on face and body to keep your mind engaged (see resources below). 

What is the mechanism at play? 

You are giving your brain an opposite experience by calming the nervous system when bringing the distress to mind (via electrical and biochemical signals, or mechanosensory transduction generated by pressure from tapping). Cognitively this also creates a “prediction error” in the brain, so the brain eventually readjusts (often rapidly) — and no longer triggers the emotional networks that keep salient the particular fear, distress, or pain. This is referred to as a process of memory reconsolidation.

Think of tapping as a mind/body stress management tool. It can help in the moment when you feel irritated or upset. It can also help with self-sabotaging behaviors (cravings, a temper, workaholism, procrastination, etc.) as well as limiting beliefs that trail you. 

One example from my life is growing up with the scarcity message that “there is never enough.” Moreover, I learned that if you do have enough you must immediately give it all away to others who are in need. This happened with my entire set of worn Barbie dolls when I was ten years old. (They would be worth quite a bit now!)

Moreover, having “more than enough” or anything good evokes guilt. (I’m not alone with this one!)  Intellectually, I understand that I had parents who struggled. They were born in the Depression era and during a world war in Europe. Yet, that early conditioning affects my current relationship to money or success. That is a tappable issue!  

Time to release that one.

Play around with tapping on daily stress or limiting beliefs. If anything, this technique does no harm. You can always seek out a mental health practitioner or coach trained in EFT.

Learn More 

If you like the nerdy stuff or if your Inner Doubter needs some evidence, check out these resources!

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