EFT is easy, effective, and produces amazing results. I think it should be taught in elementary school.
Co-Author of The Promise of Energy Psychology.
Uncovering Specific Events - An Essential Concept Within the EFT Tapping Process
How to Break Down Complex Cases Into Easy Pieces for Tapping - Simplifying the EFT process
Specific Events are the
building blocks (true causes)
of every issue.
So far, everything you have learned in this Gold Standard EFT Tutorial has led you up to this central concept. As you will see, Specific Events are the building blocks (true causes) of every issue, no matter how complex. The idea here is to break down complex issues into manageable pieces so that you can more intelligently use Tapping for the problems at their fundamental levels.
For some issues, finding the underlying emotional contributors is pretty straightforward. A fear of flying could be the result of one bad flying experience, a lack of social confidence may have begun after a rough break-up, or a craving for chocolate may have been due to common stress about money. If you have been able to resolve a current issue by shifting your focus to the emotional realm with quick results, then you are among those who find EFT to be a bit of a miracle. If not, your unresolved emotional issues may be too complex for an approach that simple. Most people will have to dig deeper for lasting results, so now we will continue our journey toward even greater EFT skills.
Most of the emotional issues that people commonly recognize are broader than the ones we have been using as examples. “I don’t feel worthy of acceptance,” “I don’t deserve financial security,” “I’m not comfortable with intimacy,” “I have a control issue,” or “I have a hard time trusting people” are just a few examples of broader issues that could be inhibiting your happiness or serving as blocks to your success. They can also be referred to as patterns, like “I always attract the wrong partner” or “I sabotage my own financial success.” Trying to address issues like this with The EFT Tapping Basic Recipe might be relaxing and leave you feeling more positive, but that effect can wear off because the issue has not been broken down into small enough pieces to maximize EFT's effectiveness.
If you use our earlier instruction on being specific, you may be able to identify a series of events in your life that led to this relatively broad issue that you are trying to resolve. You may also find some common emotional responses connected to them. In this article, we will discover how Specific Events are the true building blocks to these broader issues, and how finding and addressing the related events will enable you to find faster, longer lasting Tapping results.
Once you understand the concept, we will provide you with a step by step guide for systematically finding and working with the building blocks of your issues.
Here's an introductory video that contains useful discussions from my previous EFT Tapping seminars. Consider this a primer for what is to come.
Let's begin our exploration of Specific Events with a common challenge faced by EFT Tappers. That is, we tend to see our issues through "global glasses" and we thus tend to describe them using broad labels. As introduced above, examples might be...
- “I don’t feel worthy of acceptance”
- “I don’t deserve financial security”
- “I’m not comfortable with intimacy”
- “I have a control issue”
- “I have a hard time trusting people”
- “I always attract the wrong partner”
- “I sabotage my own financial success”
- "I have low self esteem”
- “I am claustrophobic”
- “I’m an emotional overeater”
- “I have a lot of stress at my job”
- “My mother thinks I’m worthless”
- "Men don’t treat me well"
- “I have a fear of public speaking”
- "I'm afraid of rejection”
Unfortunately, EFT Tappers with limited training mistake these global statements for the real issues. Accordingly, they address them with The EFT Tapping Basic Recipe using global approaches like:
- "Even though I don’t feel worthy of acceptance ..."
- “Even though I don’t deserve financial security…”
- “Even though I’m not comfortable with intimacy…”
- “Even though I have a control issue…”
- “Even though I have a hard time trusting people…”
- “Even though I always attract the wrong partner…”
- “Even though I sabotage my own financial success…”
- "Even though I have low self esteem…”
- “Even though I am claustrophobic…”
- "Even though I’m an emotional overeater...."
- "Even though I have a lot of stress at my job...."
- "Even though my mother and I always argue...."
- “Even though men don’t treat me well….”
- “Even though I have a fear of public speaking….”
- “Even though I’m afraid of rejection…”
The issues above are all very global, which means that they contain many Aspects. That is they can be broken down into much smaller parts, and we can be far more specific. Trying to resolve these global issues with a round or so of Tapping is like trying to collapse a solid oak table by pounding your fist on the table top. With enough repeated pounding you might weaken a table leg or two, but that's about it.
A better approach is to take aim at the table legs that support the table top. Remove or weaken the table legs and the table top falls. Herein lies the simplicity, and the power, of Specific Events.
Tabletop and Table Legs - An Ideal EFT Metaphor
Let's expand on this very important EFT metaphor that will help us be more specific with these global issues. Specific Events are, quite simply, the Table Legs supporting the globally stated issue, or Tabletop. As you will soon see, to address the Table Leg with EFT is always more specific than addressing the Tabletop.
To clarify, let's explore the globally stated, "I'm afraid of rejection" issue from the list above.
Rejection example: Instead of using EFT on this Tabletop issue with a statement like, "Even though I'm afraid of rejection....." let’s be more specific and break it down to the Specific Events (Table Legs) that caused it. Not everyone has a fear of rejection, but you can be sure that those who do will have some experience, or Specific Events, in their past to back it up. In EFT terms, those Specific Events might be approached like this:
- "Even though my 3rd grade teacher embarrassed me in front of the class....."
- "Even though my father didn't attend my high school graduation and I felt left out...."
- "Even though my high school sweetheart said, 'I've grown tired of you'...."
- "Even though I was sent to my room for the whole day on Thanksgiving at age 8...."
- "Even though Mom told me 'you'll never get married unless you are thin like your sister'...."
- "Even though I was cut from the Little League baseball team...."
Can you see how each of these events could possibly result in someone saying “OUCH! I just got rejected”? Each of these painful rejections gets stored in the energy system and, as the disruptions accumulate, it can eventually cause someone to avoid rejection at all cost. This might affect the choices they make or the chances they are willing to take in life, and someday they will realize they have limited themselves because they are “afraid of rejection.”
These are the true contributors to the "I'm afraid of rejection" issue. They represent the foundation of the problem. They are the causes while the fear of rejection is but the symptom. To use EFT for an issue like this, we start by looking for the Table Legs, then neutralize those individual causes one by one. When we do, each leg that is removed (or weakened) destabilizes the Tabletop until it eventually collapses and the fear of rejection issue fades. This is EFT Tapping at its best.
However, don’t forget that Testing is a vital piece of The Triad (Aspects-Testing-Being Specific). One enormous benefit here is that by separating an issue into an organized collection of Aspects, you know exactly what you’re testing when you use the 0-10 intensity rating. On the contrary, if you use global language to address a global issue, the 0-10 intensity rating will represent all the parts at once. If you aren’t getting anywhere, it’s hard to know which parts have improved and by how much … and most importantly, where to go from there for best Tapping results. If you reduce everything down to clear specifics you can often knock them down like dominoes.
Assuming you can find and address all the Aspects in each Specific Event, the events that you neutralize will stay neutralized, and you can confirm that through testing it over time. This allows you to systematically work through your issues and thereby improves your confidence in, and success with, the EFT Tapping process.
Here’s a Tapping Tip:
You might notice that the events we have chosen for this example are all from childhood. That’s because the earlier events have the best chance of being foundational events, i.e. providing stronger support for the Tabletop. If you can imagine that the Table Legs supporting an issue can all be different sizes and strengths, doesn’t it make the most sense to knock out the big ones first? The farther back you can go in your personal history to find a related event, the bigger that leg is likely to be.
Here’s another Tapping Tip:
Keep your eye out for The EFT Generalization Effect. Often the various "rejection legs" have some common themes among them so that removing one leg has an effect on the remaining ones. For example, many of the rejection issues may involve a parent, or school or a particular experience such as domestic abuse or war. Even if an issue has hundreds or thousands of table legs, we can often remove 10 or 20 of them with EFT and then watch as the generalization effect collapses the whole tabletop.
Here is a short video describing the Tabletop/Table Legs metaphor and how the EFT Generalization Effect works.
Now, with EFT, you can break down every complex issue into smaller pieces
Using EFT on Specific Events is not limited to rejection issues. It applies to fear, anger, guilt, grief, trauma and every emotional issue you can name. It also applies to all the emotional causes of physical and performance issues. Break these issues down to the Specific Events causing them and you have a formula to bring freedom to just about every issue. With this idea, no issue is too complex because they can all be broken down to their individual pieces and then collapsed with EFT. Here are some classic examples:
- A traumatized war veteran may have a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is a global issue because it is caused by many war related Specific Events. Simply identify each of the specific war events and address them one at a time with EFT. When enough of them have been neutralized, the PTSD no longer has a cause and the Tabletop falls along with the veteran's nightmares, intrusive memories, headaches, panic attacks and so on.
- Anger issues always have causes and those causes are the Specific Events from which the anger came. Think about your own past, for example, and recall some Specific Events that created anger within you. Do they not still seethe under the surface only to show up now and then as anger outbursts in current time? Can you see that after neutralizing those events with Tapping, you would have less in your "anger bucket" and the result would be fewer anger episodes?
- Business, sports, music and public speaking performance issues almost invariably have Specific Events at their core. In these cases, the Specific Events usually generate limiting emotions or beliefs that tend to inhibit performance. Examples: (1) My father said rich people are greedy, (2) If I excel at baseball my schoolmates will resent me just like my cousin did when I was age 7, (3) I can't sing that higher note because my buddies said I would sound like a sissy and (4) I don't deserve a standing ovation because my 8th grade teacher embarrassed me by calling me a showoff. We have all accumulated a river full of these mental stoppers and they all gather behind our own personal dam. Collapsing them with EFT Tapping breaks the dam and opens up incredible new vistas.
- Physical issues and serious diseases almost always have emotional causes (my opinion). Medicine and most other methods tend to ignore them and thus, by contrast, the EFT process stands out as a unique approach. It is no wonder, then, that we often succeed where everything else fails. I will devote an entire future article to this topic but, for now, let's recognize that these emotional causes can be reduced to Specific Events. Collapse the Specific Events with EFT and the physical issues often subside or disappear.
What is a Specific Event from an EFT Point of View?
In order to be sure your event is specific enough, choose something with the following criteria:
- It is a short “movie” from the past, preferably as far back as childhood
- You are able to give it a title, like “the time when…”
- It was 1-3 minutes long at the time it happened
- It contains at least 1 emotional crescendo
- It has a beginning, an end, a plot, and characters
How do you find Specific Events Within the Tapping Process?
This is usually done with questions that take you back in time to previous experiences that are related to the current issue. There are no cookie cutter questions that work for all circumstances but it doesn't take a genius to start exploring. Here are some examples to give you the idea.
- When was the first time you felt unloved?
- Can you name a time when you felt rejected big time?
- Is there a major guilt experience we can discuss?
- What event in your past does this issue about ______ remind you of?
- What was your most fearful/abusive/traumatic experience?
- Was there an emotional event preceding the onset of your illness?
Our Art of Delivery videos are loaded with these inquiries and are a primary source for quality examples.
Tapping Guidelines for Using Specific Events
Most people have to be guided in this process. Otherwise, they are likely to come up with "Specific Events" that last for several hours or more. So to make sure you have an appropriate Specific Event of manageable length, use these features as guidelines:
- If this event was a movie, how long would it last? If it is anything more than a few minutes, please narrow it down to a one to three minute segment that includes the most important emotional crescendo(s) of the entire event. One common mistake is to choose an event that you could tell a friend in one to three minutes. For this purpose we need something that actually happened in one to three minutes at the time. For example, you might be able to tell a friend about a divorce in a few minutes, but you would have to gloss over a lot of the specific detail. Look for the small segments of time that hold the most emotional impact for you.
- How many crescendos are there in this short movie? If the movie lasts only a few minutes, then there probably won’t be too many crescendos. However, it is usually best to limit the Specific Event to contain only one or two crescendos. If there are multiple crescendos then address them one at a time, starting with the most intense one. Often collapsing the most intense one with EFT allows the others to fade.
- If this movie had a title, what would it be? This question has two purposes: (1) it gives you a short phrase to use with The EFT Tapping Basic Recipe and (2) it adds emphasis to the Specific Event, allowing you to distinguish it from other, related events
- How long ago did it happen? Tapping on an event from last week is certainly an option, but the Aspects of that event are likely to be broad issues of their own. It’s better to start as close to childhood or as close to the origination of the problem as you can get.
Tapping Tip: What if you can't remember a Specific Event?
Then make one up. This may sound frivolous at first but, in practice, it can be quite effective. This is because a made up event comes from within your deepest emotional recesses and thus it can be embellished into an event that may be even more useful than a real one. I have done this many times with great success.
Once you start tapping, your memory will often clear up, and more events will come to your awareness.
Tapping Tip: Specific Events vs. Specific Emotions
Ultimately, it is the emotions that emanate from the Specific Events that interest us. These are the causes behind the emotional, physical and performance issues that need collapsing. Some EFT'ers have misunderstood this and have chosen to go for Specific Emotions instead of Specific Events. Even though this is doing it backwards, it will likely provide some results because of the power of The EFT Tapping Basic Recipe. Even a misdirected arrow can still hit part of the target. However, it will often fall short of perfection for two reasons:
- The Specific Events are what cause the emotions we seek in the EFT process but the reverse is not true, i.e. the emotions do not cause the Specific Events. Thus to seek for emotions without identifying their fundamental causes (Specific Events) is an obvious EFT error. The Specific Events are the centerpiece of quality EFT. To sidestep them leaves behind an opportunity for deeper work.
- There is no such thing as a specific emotion. We commonly use terms like fear, anger and grief as though they were specific items but, in fact, they are only generalized labels. Grief over the death of a loved one, for example, isn't just a form of sadness. If you look behind it you will often find things like the fear of being alone or guilt for what the griever did or did not do while the deceased was alive. I once sat down and made a list of 50 emotions and could easily define all of them in terms of fear e.g. hand washing OCD can be defined as the fear of germs, guilt can be defined as the fear of being found out, depression can be defined as the fear of being worthless ... and on it goes.
Being Specific is a critically important factor for in-depth success with EFT .. and ... failing to be specific enough is BY FAR the most common mistake made by EFT practitioners. The bigger the issue, the harder it can be to find the smaller pieces. Working with Specific Events will take you straight to the source of the disruption and provide a systematic way to resolve bigger issues, one piece at a time.
Now that you understand the concept, choose an issue (Tabletop) of your own, a related event (Table Leg) and follow us to the next article where we address that event with the Tell the Story Technique.
In this article you learned how Specific Events contribute to emotional issues.
- Specific Events are the building blocks of broader emotional issues.
- Again, failing to be specific enough is a very common mistake for people using EFT.
- We generally don’t find success by tapping on the broader issues because they contain too many Aspects.
- Understanding the Tabletops and Table Legs metaphor will help you break global issues into Specific Events
- There are five criteria for making sure the event you have chosen is specific enough.
- Addressing events from earlier in your history will usually produce more dramatic results than addressing something more current.
- The Generalization Effect helps to multiply the effects of our work as the relief from one event will spread to benefit other events.
© Gary and Tina Craig
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