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Why Do Symptoms Return Even Though You're Tapping?Stop Feeling Lazy EFT book by Carol Look

Dear EFT Community,

EFT Master, Dr. Carol Look, examines many of the common issues that prevent you, or your clients from making progress when using EFT to tap on issues. There are many reasons people fear change and use self-sabotaging behaviors when attempting to move forward in a new healthier direction. Carol offers insights and solutions for addressing when symptoms return, or when EFT doesn't seem to be working while practicing regular tapping.

-EFTUniverse


By Dr. Carol Look, LCSW, EFT MAS-3

Part 1 of 3: Why Isn't EFT Working?

If your body and mind are not congruent with the consequences of releasing old patterns, you will not feel safe to change--or stay changed--and nothing permanent will come of EFT tapping. It is often because it feels emotionally threatening on any level to make changes, so you regress to the original behavior, habit, or fear.

In some cases, you won’t regress, however, you will be left with an odd empty feeling, as you don’t feel quite right with the “new” you.

We often use our problems and conflicts to protect ourselves from something--feelings, confrontations, truths--it doesn't matter what we feel the need to protect ourselves from, it only matters that we have developed these patterns because our mind is telling us we need to.

You need to take a good honest look at what might not feel safe to you if you change in order to find the tappable issues. It isn't “bad” if you don’t feel safe, it is merely feedback from your organism. We all feel unsafe to varying degrees about moving forward or releasing old habits and conflicts. Sometimes the reasons are irrational and illogical because of what and how we learned certain lessons from our childhood. Sometimes the reasons make perfect sense to us on a conscious level. It doesn't really matter.

The point is, if you don’t feel safe, you won’t change and stay changed.

The first clue that you may have this issue of SAFETY blocking your forward movement is that your treatment is neither working very well nor sticking in the long term. Below are important questions, explanations, and suggested tapping sequences for possible reasons you might not feel entirely safe to move forward in your personal, professional, or physical life.

Remember, the reasons we don’t feel safe need to be heard and respected before you will make any headway. Otherwise these conscious or unconscious “reasons” continue to operate behind the scenes.

Why Do My Symptoms Keep Returning Even Though I’m Tapping?

If your symptoms appear “stubborn” or continue to return, make sure to ask your practitioner (or yourself) if you are being too global and general in your statements. If you don’t feel safe enough to change because you are on your own, it might be time to seek out an EFT practitioner. I highly recommend a session or two for a jump-start. Of course, make certain there is a good emotional “match” between therapist and client.

If you can’t find the core issues, or don’t feel safe enough with your particular practitioner, discuss this as openly as you are able to. A skilled practitioner will help you feel heard, and then know where to take the next EFT session.

Occasionally there are energy toxins (this is rare but can happen) that interfere with your energy system and actually cause the original problem (the depression or allergy or conflict you are trying to remove). More commonly there are multiple aspects (different angles to the same problem) that have not been adequately addressed. Again, make sure you are working with a qualified practitioner and that you are feeling “heard” and understood before proceeding.

If your emotional or physical symptoms continue to surface or return, some detective work is required.

Maybe you actually feel ambivalent about changing--a part of you really wants to change, while another part is determined to stay the same for reasons for safety reasons on an emotional basis.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though I can’t “hold on to” my changes, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.

Even though I’m ambivalent about changing, I deeply and completely accept how I feel.

Even though I don’t feel safe enough to change right now, I choose to come back to this another time.

EYEBROW: I can’t seem to hold my changes.

SIDE OF EYE: What’s wrong with me?

UNDER EYE: I’m not entirely sure I want to change.

NOSE: I just don’t feel safe enough YET.

CHIN: I don’t really want to change.

COLLARBONE: I can’t hold on to my changes.

UNDER ARM: I don’t feel safe enough.

Why Do I Keep Sabotaging My Success?

If the term self-sabotage rings all sorts of bells for you, this is another reason you might want to explore the issue of safety. Everyone is convinced that sabotage comes from not feeling worthy, and while that’s technically true, if you felt safe deserving success and feeling worthy, you wouldn't sabotage your progress! So approaching sabotage from another angle is often the medicine you need.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though feeling deserving of success feels foreign to me, I accept myself anyway.

Even though I am determined not to feel deserving of success, that’s ok, I accept my feelings anyway.

Even though I am afraid I’ll just sabotage my success anyway, I accept who I am and how I feel.

Even though I’m a master at sabotage, I accept who I am and how I feel.

Even though I don’t feel safe deserving success, I accept all of my feelings.

EYEBROW: I always sabotage my progress.

SIDE OF EYE: I don’t deserve success.

UNDER EYE: I never have.

NOSE: I don’t deserve success because I’m not worthy.

CHIN: I always sabotage my success because I don’t deserve it.

COLLARBONE: I can’t stop the sabotage patterns.

UNDER ARM: Yes I can.

Why Does EFT Work On Everyone But Me?

All human beings have an energy system, so there is no logical reason why EFT wouldn't work for all of us. Now, if you do not appreciate the technique, do not believe in the foundational principles of acupuncture, do not “buy” that there is an energy system in the human body, then your beliefs may be blocking treatment. You need to ask yourself whether you should try another type of therapy that might be more in alignment with who you are or whether you should continue to work with EFT.

If EFT seems to work on everyone else, then EFT is not the problem.

However, if you want EFT to work, believe it can work, have seen it work for others, you must look to safety issues as the cause of impeded progress.

What is fascinating to me is how many EFT practitioners have come to me for sessions or workshops because apparently EFT doesn't work for them, even though they conduct exceptional sessions for their clients. The reasons EFT doesn't “work” for them are connected to energetic issues, not the inadequacies of EFT.

Start with the karate chop point:

Even though I’m frustrated because EFT doesn't work on me, I choose to be open to it working now.

Even though EFT works on everyone else but me, I choose to accept the blocks I must have.

Even though EFT doesn't work on me, and I can’t figure out why, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.

EYEBROW: I can’t figure out why it won’t work on me.

SIDE OF EYE: It’s typical that something won’t work on me.

UNDER EYE: Nothing ever works on me.

NOSE: What’s the matter with me?

CHIN: Maybe I don’t want it to work.

COLLARBONE: Maybe I’m too different.

UNDER ARM: I don’t feel safe enough to allow it to work.

If I Change, Do I Have To Forgive Someone?

So many people are afraid that if they let go of a problem that they have been blaming on another person, childhood mistreatment, this means they MUST forgive them. And their objection isn't so much with forgiving someone as with their misinterpretation that forgiving means approving of the behavior and letting the person “off the hook.”

Forgiveness means you understand that the person made a horrendous mistake and that they shouldn't have done it to you but that they were doing the best that they could do at that time given their life circumstances and teachings from their family etc….it does NOT mean that the hurtful behavior was appropriate or should be repeated.

If you equate getting over your anxiety, depression, phobias, or being a victim with letting your relative, teacher or ex-boyfriend “get away with it” then you won’t feel safe letting go.

I always talk to my clients about their definition of forgiveness and what they see as a risk in letting go of the blame, anger, or resentment. Then we tap for not feeling safe on many levels.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though I refuse to give up this problem, because that will let him off the hook, I accept who I am and how I feel.

Even though I’m not ready to forgive anyone yet, I accept who I am and that I am holding onto my problem for the wrong reason.

Even though I feel threatened at the thought of forgiving that person, I accept my feelings about this situation.

EYEBROW: I don’t want to forgive anyone yet.

SIDE OF EYE: I don’t want him/her to get away with it.

UNDER EYE: If I change, it means he’s off the hook.

NOSE: If I get better, it means they’ll get away with it.

CHIN: I don’t feel safe giving up this problem yet.

COLLARBONE: I don’t want to let them forget what they did.

UNDER ARM: I don’t feel safe enough to let go of it.

-----

Part 2 of 3: What Is The Downside of Getting Over This Problem?

Most of you that have been reading my articles and books know by now that my favorite question in EFT therapy is, “What is the DOWNSIDE of getting over this problem?”

Answering this question is the fastest way to come up with the reasons you don’t feel safe moving forward. What are possible downsides to your progress? What would be negative about you getting over it? How am I protected by having this problem? Ask yourself these questions gently and often until you get a glimpse of what might be in the way of your (or your client’s) progress.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though a part of me doesn't really want to change, I accept myself and my feelings.

Even though there are some “negatives” to my changing, I accept myself and who I am.

Even though I don’t really want to get over this problem for a good reason, I accept and love myself anyway.

Even though I’m not aware of the DOWNSIDES yet, I accept who I am and what I am feeling.

EYEBROW: I don’t feel safe letting go of this problem.

SIDE OF EYE: Apparently there are some downsides to releasing this problem.

UNDER EYE: I’m not entirely sure I want to change.

NOSE: I just don’t feel safe enough YET.

CHIN: I don’t know what the downsides are yet…

COLLARBONE: I feel my resistance but can’t stop.

UNDER ARM: I don’t feel safe enough to make these changes.

Who Might Be Jealous/Upset If I No Longer Have This Problem?

Always ask yourself about your closest family members, friends and co-workers…who might have a hard time if you are no longer a failure, no longer overweight, no longer suffering with chronic pain?

These feelings from others don’t come from bad intentions, they are just rarely expressed openly and honestly, we often hear or feel a zinger from someone who is jealous!

Humans get accustomed to things being a certain way…and change causes any underlying discomfort or envy to surface. If hearing about or experiencing these feelings from others makes you afraid, you will resist changing or feel uncomfortable and uneasy when you do.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though I’m afraid of his/her reaction, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.

Even though they might be too jealous if I get better, I accept my fears of their reactions.

Even though I won’t feel safe if they find out about my success, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.

Even though I feel the pressure to protect them from my success, I accept who I am and how I feel.

EYEBROW: I know they won’t like it.

SIDE OF EYE: I’m afraid of his/her reaction.

UNDER EYE: I won’t feel safe changing if they hear about it.

NOSE: I don’t want to upset them.

CHIN: I think it’s my job to protect them.

COLLARBONE: I’m afraid of their reaction.

UNDER ARM: No wonder I don’t feel safe enough.

What Expectations Will They Have of Me If I Change?

You can see why changing starts to seem like a risky business! Many of my clients and workshop participants uncover this conflict about changing--someone in their life will suddenly have enormous expectations of them now that they have “gotten over” their problem, whether it is fear of flying or shyness. A client who finally cleared her agoraphobia after years of not leaving her home was afraid to tell anyone lest they ask her to make up for lost time and travel all over the countryside.

Sometimes this fear is hidden away, but ask yourself who will have higher expectations of you if you make headway with a particular conflict you have been working on.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though I don’t want them to want anything more from me, I accept who I am and how I feel.

Even though I’m afraid of their expectations, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.

Even though I’m afraid of my own expectations, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.

EYEBROW:  I can’t take their expectations.

SIDE OF EYE:  I don’t want them to want more.

UNDER EYE: I don’t want them to find out.

NOSE: What if they expect more of me?

CHIN: What if I expect more of me?

COLLARBONE:  I can’t take the pressure.

UNDER ARM:  I don’t want their pressure.

Why Wouldn’t I Feel Safe Releasing This Issue?

Many people enter therapy claiming “I will do anything to change.” Then when you give them some minimal homework, they “forget” and don’t follow through! This is evidence that there are safety issues underneath the surface. Remember, safety issues are to be respected and honored.  Then you will have a window in to the complexity of the conflict.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though I have obvious conflicts about making this change, I accept who I am and how I feel.

Even though I can’t figure out why I won’t follow through, I accept who I am and how I feel.

Even though I refuse to change for some reason, I deeply and completely love and accept where I am.

Even though I’m using this problem as a way to protect myself, I accept who I am and how I feel.

EYEBROW:  I must have some ambivalence.

SIDE OF EYE:  I feel so confused.

UNDER EYE: Don’t I want to change?

NOSE: I just don’t feel safe enough YET.

CHIN: Maybe I really don’t want to change.

COLLARBONE:  I seem to be refusing to change.

UNDER ARM:  I don’t feel safe to change right now.

What If I Change and I’m Still Not Happy?

This possibility presents an enormous risk to people who outwardly state that they feel convinced they will be happy WHEN and only WHEN they change.  A tiny voice inside tells them that actually, even after they make the change they have been struggling with, they will still be unhappy.  From this point of view, it is safer to stay the same and not risk this outcome. It would be far too risky to land on the other side and find out you are still unhappy, and that the weight, the phobia, the fear, or the relationship was not the cause of your unhappiness to begin with.

Remember, if you or your client feels threatened by anything emotional or physical, permanent change is not guaranteed.  The mind reads the risk as foolish or unsafe on a primal level, and returning to the original behavior seems to be the best choice.  If a smoker is deathly afraid of the grief that might surface if he puts down his cigarettes, trust me, he will sabotage the best of EFT, hypnosis, or any other therapeutic tool to quit smoking.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though I don’t want to change if I’m still going to be unhappy, I deeply and completely love and respect who I am.

Even though I fear I might still be unhappy, I accept these fears and feelings.

Even though I’m afraid changing won’t really make me happy, I choose to feel good about me right now.

EYEBROW:  I need to be happy.

SIDE OF EYE:  This better work for me.

UNDER EYE: What if I go to the trouble and I’m still not happy?

NOSE: I just don’t feel safe enough yet.

CHIN: I don’t want to change and still be unhappy.

COLLARBONE:  What if I’m still not happy?

UNDER ARM:  Maybe I should stay the same.

-----

Part 3 of 3: How Does It Serve Me If I Am a Tough Case?

Trust me, people who appear to get a thrill out of being a “tough case” are terrified to change.  They don’t want to be different, they won’t feel safe losing this exterior of being a “tough case” and they will go to any lengths to make it difficult for the practitioner to “reach” them and their issues. 

I highly recommend that practitioners ask questions around (1) safety, (2) the upsides of staying the same, (3) the investment in being a tough case, and (4) the possibility of NOT CHANGING, to trigger emotional conflicts and jumpstart the therapy. 

Of course, in many cases, these clients won’t change because the investment in staying stuck and being hopeless is just too great--they may be living out some abusive situation from their past or some internal beliefs that need to stay intact so they don’t feel destabilized in this world.  With enough detective work, EFT can get to these core issues and thoroughly collapse them.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though I’m a tough case and nothing works on me, I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself.

Even though I’m sure nothing will work on me, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.

Even though I’m quite special in many ways, I accept that I have not been able to change yet, I deeply and completely accept exactly who I am right now.

EYEBROW:  I’ve always been a tough case.

SIDE OF EYE:  I’m really quite challenging.

UNDER EYE: I don’t want to change and I can’t.

NOSE: I just don’t think anyone has really understood me yet.

CHIN: I don’t think anyone “gets” me.

COLLARBONE:  I’m a tough case.

UNDER ARM:  I could change but I’m too tough for EFT.

What Are The Real Reasons I Want To Change?

I asked a smoker this question and he said “To get my wife off my back.”  Well, I sent him home and wouldn’t work with him. He was in no way, shape, or form ready to quit, and he knew it and I knew it.  I taught him EFT as a tool for cravings, and encouraged him to come up with his own reasons to quit and come back when he was ready.

Another client came into therapy to “find a husband.”

She was clearly looking for a relationship to shut up the chronic loneliness and childhood pain she experienced, which would account for some of the poor choices she made.  Being alone was excruciatingly painful for her, and her skills at evaluating a boyfriend were non-existent. Sometimes she used food and alcohol too, but mostly, dramatic and tumultuous relationships were the distraction she craved from her feelings of inadequacy. 

So her “real” reason to change (I don’t want to be single anymore so I don’t have to focus on myself) was not going to actually help her change; it was going to get her into even more trouble.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though the truth is I have no interest in changing, that’s ok, I accept myself as I am.

Even though I have never wanted to give up this problem for the right reasons, I accept their feelings and my feelings.

Even though I’m not ready to change, and it’s relieving to admit it, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.

Even though I want to distract myself from my feelings, I accept who I am.

Even though I can’t take being alone, I accept these feelings anyway.

Another client said she wanted to lose the weight to fit into a dress for her 20th high school reunion.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good on social occasions such as these, but your progress will not last if this is your “reason” to lose the weight.   In some cases, the progress lasts, however, the person is left with a strange or empty feeling inside as something is “missing” and the changes haven’t been integrated.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though I’m only willing to do some of what I need to do to change, I deeply and profoundly respect myself anyway.

Even though only a part of me wants to make this change, and I can’t wait to go back to normal, I accept who I am and how I feel.

Even though I feel this urgency but know it won’t last, I accept these feelings and choose to love myself anyway.

EYEBROW:  I want someone else to fix me.

SIDE OF EYE:  I want to fix someone else.

UNDER EYE: I’m not ready to do the deeper work, and that’s ok.

NOSE: I don’t want to focus on myself.

CHIN: I don’t really want to change.

COLLARBONE:  I can’t stand my own feelings.

UNDER ARM:  I can’t tolerate the pain.

What Relationships Will I Lose If I Change?

A client’s marriage was already on the rocks, but she knew if she felt confident enough to lose her extra weight, there was no turning back, and she would leave her husband.  Another client knew he would no longer “hang out” with his drinking buddies if he handled his emotional issues, and was afraid to make the necessary changes to move his life forward. 

What else might change? Job positions? Titles? Weekend activities? What other losses might there be if you change the “big” issue? 

If you don’t feel safe about changing because it might rock the boat in your family or social circle, you will sabotage your success or avoid doing what you need to do.

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though I know they will leave me if I change, I accept who I am and how I feel.

Even though I’m afraid I might leave them if I make this final change, I accept my anxiety and accept all of me now.

Even though I can’t handle any more losses, I accept these feelings and appreciate who I am right now.

EYEBROW:  I don’t want to lose anyone.

SIDE OF EYE:  I don’t want to face this challenge.

UNDER EYE: I’m not entirely sure I want to change.

NOSE: I don’t feel safe about this conflict.

CHIN: I don’t really want to face these issues.

COLLARBONE:  I know I’ll leave her/him.

UNDER ARM:  I don’t feel safe enough yet to make this change.

What Will Happen If I Don’t Change?

This is also an essential question to ask yourself.  So what if you don’t change? Will it really be so bad?  Are you the one who really wants to change?  What if you give up the battle on this issue?

Start tapping with the karate chop point:

Even though I might never change, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.

Even though I don’t want to accept myself unless I change, I am willing to consider accepting myself anyway.

Even though I don’t feel worthy of respect and love unless I change, I choose to accept who I am right now.

EYEBROW:  What if I never change?

SIDE OF EYE:  What will happen if I stay the same?

UNDER EYE: I’m not entirely sure I want to change.

NOSE: I don’t want to accept that I might not change.

CHIN: I don’t really want to change all that much.

COLLARBONE:  I can’t believe I might stay the same.

UNDER ARM:  I won’t feel worthy unless I change.

Whether you are working with an EFT practitioner, using EFT on your own, or are a clinician noticing constant relapse and sabotage in your practice, I invite you to get to the core issues underlying resistance to change: the fears, the dangers, the threats, and the “yes, buts.”

You will find that you are able to feel safe enough to tolerate the changes made possible with EFT.

 

Comments   

0 #2 Lily 2017-02-08 02:03
Wonderful article. Thank you so much for this.
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0 #1 maude 2014-12-31 02:04
Such an accurate article. You've described thoughts and feelings I've sensed, mulled over or have tried to articulate. The EFT texts are very helpful and clear especially for a beginner.
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