As my clients know I use EFT a lot in my work. It is an invaluable as a technique to calm the freeze, flight, freeze response in the body. It can help to release trapped trauma that we may still be carrying in our body from childhood, helping us to affect real change in our lives. If you are tapping on your own at home, you may want to read this list of common mistakes so you can get more out of your practice. It was created by Valerie Lis, MA, aka “The Tapping Teacher.”
I want you to get exceptional results every time you tap. A few “mistakes” may be slowing you down. The purpose of this article is to help you understand these common errors. Correcting them will lead to breakthroughs in your self-work.
MISTAKE #1: EFT works on your memories and thoughts.
EFT does not work on your memories and thoughts. It works on the physical response associated with your memories and thoughts.
If you have a fear of spiders, for example, there is a fight-or-flight (stress) response. Your heart rate increases, breathing accelerates, pupils dilate, and digestion stops. These symptoms occur when you think about a spider or get close to one. With tapping, there is a sudden shift from fight or flight to deep relaxation. As a result, your body’s automated response to spiders (conditioned link) is broken and the fear is permanently released. The memory, itself, remains the same.
To resolve this mistake, ask before tapping: “Where do you feel this in your body?” This assures an accurate starting point to measure your progress. If you have a strong physical response, it usually means you are ready to tap. It also makes it easier to measure shifts as they occur.
MISTAKE #2: Emotional distress is to be avoided.
When working with EFT, emotional distress is beneficial. This is one of the hidden “secrets” in the world of tapping. When clients cry with me, I am honored and joyful. Tapping through tears produces a powerful release. It is exhilarating to connect and share this experience with my clients.
On a scale from 1 to 10, 5-10 is the “sweet spot.” If your emotional distress is too high (i.e., higher than 10, or “out of control”), you may want to tap in silence. If you do not have emotional distress, or the level is too low, you may find it ineffective to tap.
To resolve this mistake, simply focus on the emotional distress. And then tap it away.
MISTAKE #3: “Big” problems from long ago are more challenging to clear.
EFT is evidence-based for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, and generalized anxiety. This shows that EFT is effective on intense issues. Events where there is no emotional distress are actually more challenging to clear.
You should, however, protect yourself. Rather than tapping on your own to clear your big issues, you may want to work with a qualified practitioner.
MISTAKE #4: You must find the “right” words.
This is one of the most common mistakes among new students of EFT. Tapping scripts and tap-alongs support the belief that you must find the right words. It is actually more important to be in your “feeling space.” For effective results with EFT, it is essential to be in your feeling space.
MISTAKE #5: You must always follow the “correct” procedure. This includes stating the Setup three times and calling out Reminder Phrases on the eight primary tapping points.
Yes, it is important to know the correct procedures. At the same time, you should not be controlled by them. EFT is a forgiving process. In certain situations, steps can be skipped.
The purpose of the Setup, for example, is to resolve Psychological Reversal. Reversals occur only 20% of the time and are associated with a lack of emotion. So, especially when emotions are high, you can eliminate the setup.
In addition, individual tapping points can be skipped or missed. On occasion, Reminder Phrases can also be eliminated. Rather than blindly following rules for correctness, you could simply try to focus on the charge and tap the points.
MISTAKE #6: You must call out Reminder Phrases to stay focused on the memory or belief.
Rather than calling out Reminder Phrases to stay focused on the memory or belief, it is more important to stay in your feeling space. Overthinking, that is, being in your “head bubble,” is counterproductive and slows down the process. Calling out Reminder Phrases may cause you to move from your feeling space back to your head bubble. If it does, Reminder Phrases are a distraction. Especially with high emotional intensity, you may want to avoid Reminder Phrases and tap in silence.
MISTAKE #7: You must go through the entire “story” and know how to resolve the presenting issue before you begin tapping.
It is not always necessary to understand the story or the issue. I believe that the best practice is to begin tapping as soon as possible. EFT seems to increase intuition; memories appear exactly when they are needed.
The simplest approach is to: (1) find the emotional charge, (2) tap, (3) evaluate, (4) find the emotional charge, (5) tap, (6) evaluate … and so on. Following this process often leads to enlightened, magical, “goose-bump” moments.
MISTAKE #8: Positives are to be avoided. Or, alternatively, positives are to be encouraged.
The use of negatives versus positives while tapping is a common topic for discussion. I believe it is more important to determine whether the words or phrases are charged. For example, if “I am ugly” makes you emotional, this is the correct phrase. If “I am beautiful” makes you emotional, this is the correct phrase.
I have found an interesting relationship between negative self-talk and charged positives. This may provide a clue on which form should be used. Anyway, it does not matter whether words are negative or positive. If you shift your focus to charged phrases, your tapping sessions will be more productive.
Many students of EFT like to repeat blocks of affirmations while tapping. Although this does not provide deep, transitional, permanent shifts, it can be a nice tool for relaxation.
MISTAKE #9: Since there is a benefit to tapping on your own, there is no need to work with a practitioner.
EFT is a self-tool, so it is worthwhile to tap on your own. If you work with a qualified practitioner, though, you will likely find that your results will improve.
MISTAKE #10: You need to be trained in EFT. Or, alternatively, there is no need to be trained in EFT.
Proficiency falls on a continuum. On one side are those who have never been trained. As a self-help tool, it is possible to get results on your own. These results, however, often come with limitations.
Further up the spectrum are those who have been trained in the core curriculum. They get consistent results on self-work and on most issues when working with others.
The highest level includes those who get consistent results on self-work and on most issues when working with others. Their results are also faster, deeper, and more complete than other EFT practitioners.
Reaching the highest level of the spectrum is the goal in my sessions and workshops. I also wish to lead each student that I train and mentor in this direction. I hope that you, also, move up on this proficiency scale.
Bonus Mistake #11 is the belief that all practitioners are the same. EFT is simply a tool and, unfortunately, not all practitioners are proficient in its use. Whether you tap on your own, work with a practitioner, or are a practitioner, I hope this article has helped you recognize common tapping mistakes. Understanding and correcting these errors will lead you to consistent, deeper results with EFT.
Valerie Lis, MA, aka “The Tapping Teacher,” Her upcoming book Simplified EFT: How to Get Exceptional Results Every Time You Tap includes dozens of new concepts and hundreds of innovative ideas