I tell people that in some ways it doesn’t matter where we start on an issue. Each aspect of the issue is like a corner of a net. It doesn’t matter where on the net you pick it up. When you start hauling it in from that point, the whole rest of the net comes, along with whatever is caught in it. In some way all of it is connected.
However, sometimes the client doesn’t know what is wrong, or what is causing the way they feel, and so being more general might be a way of beginning in this case. If you are alert you will pick up all the cues and clues you need to begin to narrow the focus of the work. Often during the tapping something will pop into the person’s head, to their surprise and maybe astonishment – buried memories, insights, beliefs, as if some inner part has relaxed enough to offer up something that is caught in the web.
An imaginative way to begin when the client doesn’t know where to start is to ask him or her to make up a story about a little boy/girl who had a similar sort of problem/feeling, and just let the story tell itself with whatever comes into their mind. The story usually has some relevance to the person’s life and the issue. It can be a good source of EFT tapping phrases.
Another way of beginning generally that elicits specifics that I like to use is a template that I have adapted from NLP trainer Michael Banks. I call it “Creating a Map of the History of Your Future.”
It involves beginning with listing a general array of concerns. Then I ask the question, “Imagine that we have been working together for three months or so. Put yourself into that time frame and notice: what are you doing, what are you saying to yourself, how are you holding your body, etc. that lets you know that you are changing in ways that feel good to you?”
Next I fast forward the client to imagine herself being an old person, who has had these changes in place for many decades, and ask, “Who are you now, now that you have been doing these new behaviors for all these years?” And, “What is the legacy that your life is leaving? How has you being here made the earth a better place?” There is more, but this is the general framework.
I end up with lots of specific issues and areas to focus on. In the process I have become aware of what is most sticky for the client, and I can proceed to get even more specific about that. I have also generated a list of what goals and directions are really important to the client that I can weave into subsequent EFT sessions.
An example: I had a first telephone session with a 79 year-old woman who has had a long history of severe chronic conditions, including arthritis and Parkinson’s Disease. Her voice was low and saturated with sadness. She has seen many practitioners of all kinds over the years, as have most people with long standing pain who go from doctor to doctor, healer to healer. Eve had been referred to me by a massage therapist who had heard of EFT and thought it might be an option for her.
In the course of our initial conversation, I heard her say, “I don’t feel I have a future.” Instead of going right to EFT I thought we would begin with this belief. It contained such a profound sense of hopelessness and worthlessness. I was thinking that our efforts to make a difference in what hurts for her would not get very far if our work was taking place within this frame. She needed to know the truth about herself!
I began by asking Eve to imagine that there was a path that started right from her feet, and she could make it look and feel however she wanted to. Her path was sand, she said right away, and it followed the edge of the sea. I asked her to imagine it stretching ahead, and she found it went on until she could no longer see it.
She was clearly good at imagining, and nothing was blocking her ability to do that, so we spent a little time creating beauty along her path, to let her know that good things were there for her. I didn’t specifically say that this path led to her future; I just let the imagery speak to the part of Eve that was walking this path.
As our connection was becoming more established, and I could feel Eve warming to possibility, we began to do the “ History of Your Future” process.
I asked, “If your childhood were a story, what would the title be?” She said promptly, “The Little Match Girl.” Perhaps you remember this Hans Christian Anderson story, written in 1846, which begins:
Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening – the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.
One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other should have children himself. So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, which were quite red and blue from cold. She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and she held a bundle of them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole livelong day; no one had given her a single farthing.
She crept along trembling with cold and hunger – a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!
I asked Eve what were the themes of this story. She said, “Hopeless. Naïve. Wishful. Stupid. Gullible.”
I was guessing that she was not thinking of the end of the story about the little match-seller. True, in the actual story, the little girl dies, but what if we think of this story as a metaphor? She uses her own light (her matches) to become transported by her inner guardian in the form of her grandmother, to an inner place where she can see herself in the warmth and richness and value and vitality of a greater light.
(Please, always replace my words and concepts about spiritual matters with your own ways of describing such transformations so that it is congruent with YOUR beliefs. Don’t let yourself be put off by my way of describing things! Find your way.)
As a path toward discovering her own “Self-light,” I asked Eve what had she loved to do as a child? She said she loved to swing slowly on the swings, daydreaming, imagining herself becoming a famous violinist, or a beautiful figure skater, or becoming rich and giving away millions.
In her actual childhood life, Eve was being raised by a single mother who was emotionally disturbed and depressed, who valued only hard work, and who required that Eve take care of her. Eve had had to leave school at 16 to support her mother. She had to give her mother all her earnings.
List and title your current concerns
I asked Eve to list her current concerns. They centered around not having a future, never feeling smart enough or worth anything, and feeling that she didn’t ever deserve even the little that she was getting. Her biggest concern was that she wanted to take care of herself – she didn’t want to have to go into a nursing home. Her children had offered to take her in, but she felt they were so busy with young families and problems of their own – she didn’t want to burden them.
The title for her list of present concerns was “Zero.”
It’s 3-6 months from now, and you are noticing good changes
The next question asked Eve to imagine that she and I had been working together for a few months, and that she was noticing changes in herself that felt good to her. What new behaviors, self-talk, different feelings in her body were letting her know, in this near-future time now, that she was changing in ways that were right for her?
This was hard for her to imagine. As I was searching for a way to engage Eve’s imagination on her own behalf, something she said prompted me to ask her what she had done for her work in her life. She said she had been a teacher. Over the years she had taught the whole gamut, from kindergarten through high school.
Following my intuition, I said something like, “Well, you know that in any classroom there is a range of students, from the ones who are positive and easy to work with, to the ones whose actions and words create major challenges for you and everyone else?” She chuckled and agreed.
And, I went on, “The best teachers are always talking about being on the lookout for the ‘teachable moment’ and ‘catching them being good’ when they have difficult students. When you were a teacher, what would you want those difficult kids to notice about themselves?”
“I wanted them to notice and believe that they could do anything.” Eve said, passionately.
I continued, thinking aloud, “What if you imagine all those voices in you as a classroom full of different kinds of students, both positive and negative. If you set yourself in the direction of ‘catching yourself being good,’ what would you find yourself noticing about you?”
Somehow she began to talk about her love for and from her favorite granddaughter, a four-year-old named Grace. “I can feel her love all over.” Eve said.
Since she was talking about feeling something positive in her body, I wanted to amplify this, so I asked her to describe where in her body she felt this, and what it felt like.
Imagine that you are someone who is noticing and honoring these changes.
Then I asked Eve to imagine she could float over and down into Grace, imagine that she was Grace, imagine that she was feeling and thinking and seeing as Grace. I thanked “Grace” for being here, and I said, “Grace, I know that since you are such a smart girl, and you love your grandma so much, you have probably noticed that your grandma has been feeling a lot better than she used to. Tell me, what do you notice about her?”
As Grace, Eve said, “Grandma can walk! She is doing more things. She is very pretty. She shines! I feel how happy she is. When my Grandma holds my hand she is magic! She is happy and light and sparkly, and she looks like God!” Eve’s voice was alight with love.
I thanked Grace (thinking, really good job, Grace!), and invited Eve to thank her too. I told Eve to float out of Grace’s little body (and big awareness!), sending Grace gently back to where she was, and for Eve to come back into her own body bringing with her all of Grace’s knowing about who Eve really was.
What is the title for the story of your near future?
What was the title of this story, I asked? It was, “I Thought I Couldn’t Do It, But I Can Do Anything!”
Completing the legacy of your life
Next I asked Grace to imagine herself as really old, not as dying but as completing the leaving of the legacy of her life on the earth. How old would she be?
“100!” was the instant reply.
So, what did she look like now at 100, where did she live, with whom? And more importantly, what was she like now? I asked her to imagine that she had now had 21 years – a long time! – to live into and deepen all those lovely images that Grace had offered of who Eve really was inside, once she began to change into the realization of it.
I loved her reply. It flowed slowly and thoughtfully from her heart right into words:
“I wear what I like. I am not influenced or required by anyone but me. These are God’s rules. They are good rules. I do not have to speak to people for them to know that I love them. I have taught this to Grace. She is beautiful and creative. I don’t need anyone, but I have everyone. I have gotten much better at asking for help.”
When I asked her about the legacy that her life is leaving on the earth, how the earth is a better place for her life having been part of it, she said:
My children and my grandchildren and my great grandchildren will ask themselves when they make a major decision, “Would Grandma feel good about this?” They will want to live lives that better the world. They will want and know how to do this because of me.
Title your legacy
Her title for “Eve at 100 years old” was “I Am Making a Difference.”
What are you doing right now that is leading to your legacy?
For the last step in this process, I asked Eve to come all the way back to the present moment. As she looked forward in her life toward her future and “I Am Making a Difference,” what was she doing right now that was leading to this future? Little things…big things…thoughts. I reminded her what I knew she knew already, that every single thought we have and action that we take creates our future.
She said, “I am always looking at what I do to see if it is fitting into the idea that I am making a difference. I am thinking healing, loving, giving thoughts. I am calling you. I am re-reading healing messages. I am listening to my positive thinking tapes. I am following my intuition. And I am having a lot of communication with Grace! Maybe I am even going to visit her! I am taking care of myself.“
(Mmmm, better than thinking you have no future, was the thought in my mind!)
Her title for this present time of initiating positive actions and thoughts to build her future with was “Every Little Bit Helps.”
Title the whole saga of your life
Finally, the last title I asked Eve for was a title for the whole saga, that began with “The Little Match Girl,” went to “Zero,” and then to “Every Little Bit Helps,” and then to “I Thought I Couldn’t Do It But I Can Do Anything!” and finished with “I Am Making a Difference.”
The title of Eve’s saga was: “A Good Life.”
As we completed our session, I thanked Eve for the privilege of working with God!
Now I had a great list of phrases to work into our tapping sessions, and our doing the process itself had become a transformative intervention for her.
With my love and blessings,