Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 52.
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, EFT is most effective when we apply it on “specific events”, whether past memories or future imagined scenarios, that are somehow connected to the issue we are working on, and contributing to keeping that issue in place. Most of the time, these “specific events” or memories tend to be “negative” or adverse in some way, and what we seek to do with EFT is to diminish and release the unpleasant emotions we feel now (in the present moment) when thinking about them. But what about “positive” memories?
By “positive” I mean those memories we consider to be happy ones and/or those events we are glad took place. Should we ever tap on them? Here’s my response: the majority of the time there’s no need to tap on them, but there are a few cases where it might be useful to do so.
Basically, the main reason we might want to tap on a positive memory is if, when thinking about it now in the present moment, it brings up unpleasant emotions. Remember, even if the memory was a happy one at the time it took place, what matters in EFT is how we feel about it now.
Now, why would a positive and/or happy memory stop feeling that way and require us to tap on it? One of the reasons why this could happen is through the grief process. When we are grieving a loss of something or someone, we are usually going to feel (at least initially) some degree of emotional pain when thinking about the negative memories that we have of whomever or whatever we lost, but also when thinking about the positive ones as well.
Why the positive ones? Well, because when thinking about them now, we’ll probably notice the contrast of how nowadays that which we are grieving is no longer in our lives. So, even though it was a happy memory at the time, now perhaps we feel sad (or some other emotion) when we recall it.
So, what kind of phrases could we use when tapping on what was originally a positive memory? Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say that when I remember the time my grandfather took me to an amusement park for my birthday, even though it was originally a very happy memory, now it makes me feel sad, because my grandpa has passed away. If I were to tap on this memory using Basic EFT, a few useful questions to ask myself would be: 1) As I think about this memory now, which part or aspect of this memory seems to evoke the most unpleasant or upsetting emotional charge now? 2) What feeling or emotion do I feel about that part of the memory? 3) And where do I feel that emotion in my body?
So, perhaps I might use the following phrase when I start the first round of EFT tapping on the side of my hand: Even though when I remember the time my grandpa took me to an amusement park for my birthday [this is the memory], when I think about the smile he had on his face, he looked so happy [this is the part or aspect of the memory I’m focusing on], I feel really sad remembering that now [the emotion I’m feeling], and I notice this sadness in my chest [the body location], I accept this is what I’m feeling right now.
Then after that round I can think about the memory again and ask myself those same questions to determine what part of the memory seems to have the most emotional charge now, what emotion or feeling am I feeling about it, and where in my body I’m feeling it (if anywhere).
What I’m seeking to do with this grief work is not to forget this memory or to forget my grandfather but, on the contrary, I’m using EFT to help me be able to think about this happy memory of him without it bringing so much emotional pain. We are seeking to “drain” that emotional pain that’s become associated with this memory. As that happens I’ll probably be able to feel more of a sense of a connection to him and the happy memories I have of him.
In addition to tapping directly on positive memories, something else that might be useful is to tap on the negative memories that might be connected to them and at the root of why the positive memory no longer brings up joy when thinking about it now.
In the example above with my grandfather, some of the negative memories could be from around the time period of his death, attending his funeral, or even the future event imagining that I want to visit an amusement park but having to do so without him. These memories would probably be contributing to the emotional pain I feel now when thinking about what was once a happy memory.
By the way, if you suspect that a memory might be too emotionally intense and/or traumatic to work on your own, feel free to enlist the aid of a certified trauma informed practitioner, such as myself, to help you with that. The same applies if you feel like it might be too hard to keep track of all the different memories and aspects at play. Feel free to get in touch with me, even if only to ask me for some free advice or guidance on how to tap on something by yourself.
Now, there are a few other times when we might want to tap while focusing on positive memories, but I’ll talk about them in another article.
That’s it for today. I hope this article was helpful. 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: When would you use EFT on a positive memory? 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.