The Tearless Trauma Technique

Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 7.

How to use the EFT Gentle Techniques to start taking the edge off of something that might be too intense otherwise. Today we’ll review: Tearless Trauma.

Remember the “Goldilocks and the 3 bears” analogy that I used in Part 3 of this series? Basically, the soup can be “too hot”, “too cold” or “just right”. The same applies to whatever we make the target-focus of our tapping. “Too hot” would be when the intensity is too high and overwhelming. And “too cold” is when it doesn’t bring up any intensity whatsoever because it doesn’t activate or “light up” the energetic and neural pathways that are connected to whatever issue we want to tap on.

So what do we do when we want to tap on something that is “too hot”? Well, the same as with a bowl of soup, there are ways of approaching it so as not to get our tongue burned, such as gently blowing some air on it, or starting eating at the edges of the bowl, where the temperature tends to be a bit cooler.  

This is what the Gentle Techniques of EFT help us do: they allow us to start taking the edge off of something that might be too intense and overwhelming if we were to face it head-on, by putting some distance between us and the heat. So today we are going to talk about another one of these Gentle Techniques, known as “Tearless Trauma”.

Now, let me first mention an important caveat: even though I’m going to talk about how we can use these Gentle Techniques by ourselves, if you suspect you are dealing with a traumatic event (for example, something where your physical integrity might have been compromised), then I strongly recommend you work on this with the help of an experienced EFT practitioner. However, if the memory is quite upsetting, but not necessarily traumatic, such as an argument you had with a friend, then you might consider trying out some of these Gentle Techniques.

Ok, so what is “Tearless Trauma”? It’s basically when you tap on a specific event, without mentioning any details or description about it other than “this event”, and without mentioning any emotions or body sensations. The setup statement would sound something like: “Even though there is this event, right here right now I’m ok”, or “Even though there’s this event, I deeply and completely accept myself” (or whichever self-accepting statement feels right). And the reminder phrase is simply “this event”.

To explain this further, I’m going to contrast it with Basic EFT. But first, I’d like to clarify a few things regarding the name “Tearless Trauma”. Even though it’s called “Tearless” we can’t truly guarantee there aren’t going to be any tears, but we can say it minimizes the chances of that happening, which is precisely the function of the Gentle Techniques: to make the EFT process as gentle as possible. And with regards to the second part of its name, “Trauma”, yes, this technique can be used to work on a traumatic memory, to begin taking the edge off before applying other EFT techniques such as Tell the Story, The Movie Technique, or even Matrix Reimprinting. But it can also be used to work on non-traumatic but very intense memories/events as well, which is the use I recommend if you are going to use it to tap by yourself.

That being said, to gain a better understanding, let’s contrast “Tearless Trauma” with Basic EFT. If we think about the full name of “Basic EFT”, which is “the Basic Recipe of EFT”, we can start thinking about its ingredients, which are: a specific event (set in the past, present or future), an emotion (even if the emotion is “this ‘arghh’ feeling”) and a body location (if any). If we think about Part 1 of this series, in order to be as specific as possible, we could add a fourth ingredient called “The Golden Nugget”, which is basically what specific aspect within this event you are most focusing on, such as “the look on his face while he told me that”. 

So, the four ingredients of Basic EFT would then be: specific event + aspect within that event you are most focusing on + emotion + body location (if any).

Now, the purpose of the Golden Nugget is to really zero in on the event, as if we were looking at it with a magnifying glass, so as to be as specific as possible and also make sure we are “lighting up” or “activating” the neural and energetic pathways connected to the issue we are working on. With “Tearless Trauma” we want to do the opposite.

Why? Because the intensity of the event/memory is already so high that those pathways are already activated. But we want to make sure not to burn our tongue (or our client’s) because “the soup is too hot”. Therefore, instead of zooming in with a magnifying glass, we are looking at the event and tapping on it from a distance.

The only ingredient that “Tearless Trauma” and Basic EFT share in common is the specific event, except that in “Tearless Trauma” you are only referencing it with a very neutral or non triggering term, such as “this event”. You are not mentioning any specific aspects within that event, any emotions or any body location. You are also not measuring the emotional intensity of the event/memory, but you are just guessing what it might be. Because we don’t want you (or your client) to think about it too much just yet.

Now, chances are you are not going to be able to fully process an event by just applying “Tearless Trauma” alone. Eventually you might need to start zooming in a bit more with Basic EFT or Tell the Story (if it’s a “big T” traumatic event). But with “Tearless Trauma” you’ll be able to take the edge off enough so you can apply these other more in-depth techniques in a safe, gentle way without burning your tongue (or your client’s).

This technique is also great if you are working with a client who, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to disclose what the event is about. So it allows you to start working on the event “anonymously” while respecting the client’s wish for privacy. After several rounds of “Tearless Trauma”, now that the emotional intensity has decreased, the client might now want to disclose what the event was, or they might not. Either way, it’s ok.

So, to recap, “Tearless Trauma” is one of the EFT Gentle Techniques to start taking the edge off an event by tapping on it from a distance. You ask the client to just guess at the intensity level, and you simply tap by saying something along the lines of: “Even though there’s this event, I accept myself anyway” or “Even though there’s this event, right here right now I’m safe/ok”. And the reminder phrase is simply “this event”. After each round you keep having the client guess at the intensity, so that you can determine how to continue from there. Once the intensity is below a 2, you might want to consider switching to a more in-depth processing technique, such as Basic EFT.

By tapping in this way, you are diminishing that apprehension so that the EFT process can be as safe and gentle as possible, as opposed to having to “grit your teeth” and feel really uncomfortable. And you are also working on the memory itself, but in a more distanced “zoomed out” way, where you are literally taking the edge off. So when you finally start working on the memory directly with Basic EFT, you will notice it’s a lot less intense than it would have been originally if you hadn’t done those “Tearless Trauma” tapping rounds before.

That being said, if after many rounds of “Tearless Trauma”, it still doesn’t feel safe to approach that memory directly, then that might be a sign that it’s best to enlist the aid of a certified practitioner to help you work on it together.

That’s it for today. I hope this post was helpful to you. My name is Bruno Sade, and I’m a certified EFT practitioner with a mental health background as a clinical psychologist licensed in Argentina. I use EFT as a tool to help people (who speak English or Spanish) change their emotional reactions and also to help them overcome their fear of rejection.

And, I’d love to know: have you ever used any of the Gentle Techniques? What do you think about “Tearless Trauma”? Please share in the comments below.

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