3 ways to deal with a memory that doesn’t seem to have any emotional intensity right now

Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 21.

As you know, when we use Basic EFT to tap on a “specific event” (something specific that happened in the past or that might happen in the future), we are tapping on how we are feeling about it right now.

However, sometimes we might be tapping on ourselves or with a client and an event comes up that doesn’t seem to have any emotional charge right now, even though the event itself seems to be important. So, in this case, there are 3 different things you can try:

  1. Start tapping on it anyway. While tapping tends to diminish or release our unpleasant emotional reactions when thinking about something, sometimes it first helps us “tune in” more to what we are feeling. That’s why sometimes the emotional intensity can seem to increase initially when we start tapping.

    So in the setup statement, you can just mention the event, without referencing how we feel about it. For example: “Even though last week I had this big argument with my spouse, I deeply and completely accept myself”. After tapping a few rounds on that, see what comes up for you now when you think about it again.

  2. You can choose a different but related event altogether. Let’s say you are working with a client and the issue you are working on is their relationship to their spouse. They mention a big argument they had last week, but it doesn’t seem to have any charge when they think about it now.

    So you could ask them: “Is there any other memory of arguing with them that might have an unpleasant emotional intensity when thinking about it now?”. “Or what about when thinking about the next time you might have a similar argument with them?”.

  3. You can try to ask a few more questions about the details of the event to see if it brings up any intensity. For example, I remember I was once working with someone who had to present her thesis the very next day. She wanted to work on that but she said: “The thing is, right now I’m not feeling any intensity, but I know that the anxiety will creep in right before the presentation”.

    So I asked her: “Ok, and so as you imagine yourself tomorrow feeling calm, but then suddenly right before the presentation you notice the anxiety creeping in, what feeling, sensation or emotion do you notice coming up for you now as you imagine that?”. And she replied “Angst in my throat”. And so we tapped on: “Even though just imagining that tomorrow before the presentation I’m going to be feeling calm, and then suddenly the anxiety starts to creep in, when I think about that I feel this angst in my throat, I accept that’s where I’m at right now”.

So feel free to try any of these 3 approaches and let me know how it works for you. The only caveat to mention is that I would recommend these approaches for dealing mostly with recent or future events. 

If you are dealing with a traumatic memory (for example, where the person’s physical integrity was compromised), sometimes the person doesn’t seem to be feeling anything about it because they are dissociating. This is an unconscious defense or coping mechanism used by the nervous system to keep them safe, and that has to be approached carefully in a trauma-informed way (which is beyond the extent of this article).

That’s it for today. I hope this article 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 negative emotional reactions.

And, I’d love to know: Have you ever tried any of these ways to deal with a seemingly relevant event that doesn’t appear to have any emotional intensity when thinking about it right now? Do you have any questions or comments about the tips I shared? I’d love to know in the comments below.

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