A common mistake when tapping on specific events

Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 30.

There’s a common mistake to watch out for when working on specific events, which is tapping on them in a “global” way at all times and not looking for the specific triggers and/or sensory details within the event. Let me explain what I mean.

First let’s establish an important distinction used in EFT between a “tabletop” and a “table leg”. A “tabletop” is the issue itself, such as “the fear of singing in front of other people”. 

And the “table legs” are the emotionally charged specific events or memories supporting that issue. For example, “the time when I tried to sing in front of my cousins and they all started laughing at me”, “the time I tried to sign karaoke at the bar in front of my coworkers and I couldn’t make a sound because I was too afraid”, or even the future made up event of “imagining singing in front of my friends next week and being out of tune”.

Trying to tap on the “tabletop” directly is like trying to collapse a table by just banging on the tabletop with your fist. It’s not as effective as chopping down the “table legs”, in other words, releasing the emotional charge around some of the connected memories and specific events.

A mistake I would make sometimes while going through certification, when working on a specific event, was to do it in such a way that I wasn’t really referencing any specific trigger or sensory detail within the event. 

So let’s say that I’m working on my fear of singing in front of other people (this would be the issue/tabletop). And I came up with a future made up scenario imagining that I would sing in front of my friends at my best friend’s birthday next Friday.

If I were to tap on: “Even though when I imagine myself singing in front of my friends at my best friend’s birthday next Friday, I feel this fear of singing in front of other people”, maybe it might decrease the emotional intensity of that fear a bit, but notice that I’m not being really specific. I’m actually tapping on the issue/table top itself (the fear of singing in front of other people) but adding “when I imagine myself singing in front of my friends at my best friend’s wedding next Friday”. But am I really tapping on an event? Or am I tapping in a global way that’s disguised as a specific event?

There’s nothing wrong with tapping one or two rounds using that kind of setup statement, but chances are that if I stay at that level of detail (or lack thereof) the whole session, I’m going to miss all the specific triggers that could be active within this event.

So, wouldn’t the tapping be more laser-focused and therefore effective if I were to say: “Even though, when I imagine myself singing in front of my friends at my best friend’s wedding next Friday, and I imagine they start laughing as soon as they see me open my mouthI feel really embarrassed just imagining that, and I feel this embarrassment in my throat”?

Or how about: “Even though, when I imagine myself singing in front of my friends at my best friend’s wedding next Friday, I can imagine myself feeling nervous and being out of tune because of that, and as I imagine myself hearing that I’m singing out of tuneI feel really humiliated, and I feel this humiliation feeling in my chest”?

Now, if I were able to diminish and/or release my “negative” or unpleasant emotional reactions to the idea of my friends laughing at me while I’m singing, or to the idea of hearing that I’m singing out of tune, wouldn’t that be helpful in reducing my fear of singing in front of other people?

At the end of the day, my fear of singing in front of other people is composed of all of those little triggers that can only be found by tapping on specific events. Chances are that if I tap in such a way where I’m simply referencing the event and the global issue (e.g. “Even though when I think about tomorrow night, I feel this fear of singing in front of other people”), but not really getting to those detailed triggers, I won’t be able to resolve them. And therefore I will only be able to make limited progress on the issue itself.


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: What do you think about the importance of trying to get to the specific triggers and/or sensory details within a specific event? Do you have any questions or comments about what I wrote? Is there any particular topic you’d like me to write about? I’d love to know in the comments below.

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