The Emotional Dashboard: Distinguishing Between Past Echoes and Present-Day Alerts with EFT

Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 85.

I’ve always wondered how to reconcile the idea that our emotions offer valuable messages with the idea that EFT assists in reducing and/or releasing these emotional responses. This is what today’s article is about.

What do I mean by “the idea that our emotions offer valuable messages”? You might have heard about the analogy of a car’s dashboard. If a red warning light comes on in the car’s dashboard, it’s probably signaling there’s something that you need to pay attention to. Maybe you need to add more fuel to the car, or change the oil, or something like that. Therefore, the solution isn’t just to turn off that warning light and/or cover it with tape, but to actually pay attention to what it’s trying to tell you.

The same applies to our emotions. Sometimes our anger is showing us that we have unmet needs, or that we are being treated unfairly. Sometimes our fear/anxiety shows us there’s some kind of danger we need to avoid or anticipate. Our overwhelm can show us that we are trying to tackle too much all at once, or that we need to ask for support.

However, the challenge is that sometimes our emotional reactions seem excessive, not just to other people but to us as well. And they can even lead us to misinterpret the current situation/circumstances and/or to blow things out of proportion. I believe that this is because our emotional reactions tend to have a component that comes from “unprocessed stuff from the past” (the past invading/coloring the present), and another component that is what I mentioned above about “a useful message about our current circumstances”. How much of each component probably varies depending moment by moment. EFT can help us deal with both aspects, ensuring a more balanced emotional response.

So, let me share a few examples to make this more understandable.

  1. If your romantic partner is treating you in such a way that isn’t respecting your needs or boundaries, of course it’s normal to be angry about that. However, perhaps there’s an extra component of anger that comes from your past, because it’s triggering the memory of your highschool bully treating you like that. Except that, in reality, your romantic partner doesn’t have an ill intent, he is simply unaware of the effect his actions have on you.

  2. If someone hacks your bank account, of course, you are going to be anxious about that. Your economic livelihood is at stake, and you need to do whatever is possible to let the bank and the authorities know and try to recover the money and/or decrease the financial uncertainty. That being said, perhaps the anxiety is being magnified because the situation is triggering a past memory of watching your parents go through a bankruptcy after being scammed by their business partner when you were young.

  3. If you are feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to do, perhaps it is indeed overwhelming, and no amount of tapping will fully decrease the feelings of overwhelm until somehow you stop having so many things on your plate (unfortunately, this isn’t always possible for some people, due to systemic inequities). That being said, perhaps the feeling of overwhelm is also being fueled by memories of the past of having felt very overwhelmed before.

This is why, even when our emotions seem justified or rational, tapping on them can still be beneficial. Not necessarily to try to “make them go away completely” (which might be like trying to cover the dashboard’s warning light with tape), but to hopefully at least decrease some of the excessive emotional charge that’s coming from the past. Sometimes we don’t even know beforehand whether our emotional reactions are justified or if we are overreacting. Tapping on them can provide us with more clarity.

And we can do this by tapping on the current triggering situations directly, we don’t need to necessarily go on a wild goose chase “trying to find the core issue” or things like that. By tapping on recent or future events related to our current emotions, sometimes we might notice earlier memories come to mind, and we can then decide if we want to tap on them next or not.

By doing so, we can alleviate some of the emotional intensity related to our current circumstances or triggers, enabling clearer thought and empowering us to act in response to what our ’emotional dashboard’ signals. Otherwise, trying to cover the dashboard with tape is akin to “gaslighting ourselves” or “brainwashing ourselves”, and pretending that everything is ok when perhaps it actually isn’t.

If dealing with these emotions feels overwhelming, consider enlisting the help of a certified practitioner like myself, or anyone else whose style you resonate with. A trained professional can guide you through the process and tailor the techniques to fit your unique needs.

And that’s it for today! I’m Bruno Sade, a compassionate, open-minded clinical psychologist, and certified EFT practitioner. My approach is tailored to your individual needs and preferences, always respecting your experiences, beliefs, and background.

What are your thoughts on today’s topic? Feel free to share questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics. You can either leave a comment below or send a private message. 

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