Dear EFT Community,
EFT clients and EFT practitioners alike often ask, “How do I know where to start? How do I know what to say?” Here are 5 tips from EFT Master, Rue Hass, on asking good questions for your EFT tapping sessions to be a success.
By Rue Hass, EFT MAS-3
TIP 1: Where to Start
I trust my intuition. So when something pops in to my mind that seems odd or out of place or even outrageous, or if the client says something interesting, surprising, or unexpected, I will probably choose to make a question out of it to see what happens. ; It will become clear pretty quickly whether the direction will be useful or not.
“Shelley” came in, saying she just “needed a change.” Her shoulders were all hunched up around her ears and tension was evident in her face. She talked rather vaguely about what brought her to see me, so I asked her the first question I almost always ask, no matter what the person says they came for.
“What do you want?” Her face went blank, and her whole body slumped. “Want?” she said, confused. “I don’t know WHAT I want. No one has ever asked me that before. They always say, ‘What’s wrong?’”
Those two questions, “What is wrong?” and “What do you want?” will lead in vastly different directions.
“What’s wrong?” will elicit a long litany of what has never worked in a person’s life. This is a mental list that they have memorized, and that they add to each day. I am reminded of the adage: “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.” People always feel worse when they answer the “What’s wrong?” question.
When a person takes in the question “What do you want?” they have to go inside and begin to think of alternative futures, different choices, what is important to them. They have to begin a sorting and weighing process to find which possibilities feel like something they might want.
“What do you want?” engages a whole different area of one’s brain and being than “What’s wrong?” What do you want points in the direction of imagination, choice, being in charge, a sense of personal sovereignty. It is the first step of manifestation, and it leads in the direction of becoming more of who we are inside. It leads in the direction of healing.
Shelley and I began tapping:
Even though I don’t know what I want, I deeply and completely accept myself .
Shelley dutifully repeated the words, but her eyes were filling with tears. “I can’t say that,” she whispered.
I asked, “What can you say there? What would feel comfortable to you to say?” We settled on “Inside, I know I am OK ”
Even though I don’t know what I want, inside I know I am OK.
Even though I can’t accept that I don’t even know what I want, I know I am OK.
Even though no one ever asked me what I want, O know I am OK.
Even though I didn't even know I could want something just for me, I know I am OK.
(Here I sent her a questioning look to ask, is that right? She nodded and we went on)
Even though I want a change in my life but I don’t know what it is, I know I am OK inside and I am doing the best I can.
We aren't taught much about how to know what we want. We have very few people in our lives who model for us that it is up to us to decide what we want. Mostly we pick up on what we think we SHOULD want from the people around us, parents, teachers, media. The problem is that they got their should’s, that they gave to us, from their own version of the same places.
I want to help clients to learn, through EFT inspired by good questions, how to be their own wise guides. I teach them to use their own bodies and their intuition as resources.
The first step is to find the answer to this really important question: “How will you know when you are getting what you want?” In other words, what will you be looking for, sensing for, that will let you know that you are on the right track?
One of the first things I teach a client is how to ask themselves what they want and what is right for them, and how to read their own physical signals as a barometer for knowing the answer. In order to do this a person has to know what “yes,” and “no” feel like inside, so that they can find out from themselves if a certain action or choice or decision is the right one for them. No one taught me that when I was growing up!
So I asked Shelley to close her eyes and feel the feeling of “NO” in her body. After a moment, I told her to open her eyes, and asked what her experience was. She said it became harder to breathe, her chest felt tight, and her shoulders hurt. I took note of these body responses.
Then I told her to move around in her chair to change her position (when you change your body your mind changes, and vice versa). I asked her to feel into the quality of “YES.” When she opened her eyes Shelley said she felt lighter, there was an opening in her chest, like energy was moving up and out, deeper breathing, and her shoulders felt relaxed.
We did the exercise again, this time with two slightly different questions. I asked Shelley these questions one at a time, adding the position shift in between to change her state of being.
“What happens in your body when you feel these statement ‘The world is an unsafe and unfriendly place?’
And then, “What happens when you feel into ‘The world is a safe and friendly place?’”
I encouraged Shelley to notice whatever happened inside, the images, thoughts, feelings sensations that came up for each question. Her responses to these questions were similar to the Yes and No responses, with more information there for her.
Have you noticed that everything in life comes down to Yum or Yuck?
I explained to Shelley that now she had a very powerful and accurate measure of how she truly felt about something. I suggested that next time she had a decision or a choice to make, she take each possibility, hold it in her mind, and notice what happens in her body. We tried it out on some things in her life, and she was amazed to find that she had the answers right there, in her body’s response.
Before, she hadn't known how to know what she wanted, except that she wanted change in her life. She hadn't known how to proceed beyond that.
Now that she had a way of knowing what she wanted, a feeling of rightness that came from inside her, we were ready to go deeper with her concerns.
TIP 2: Getting More Specific Means Getting Better Results
The next question I would ask a client might be “What stops you from getting what you want?” Many people’s first response to this question is something like “my boss,” “my spouse,” “my job,” “that situation.” I always remind them that there is nothing that we can change about the other person or situation, but we can change the client's own inner response to it. When they change on the inside, their response to the situation will change. Sometimes even the other people change!
When I asked this question of Shelley, suddenly she said “Nothing works for me!” Her eyes filled with tears again. “I always feel like I have done, or am about to do, something wrong!”
Now, sometimes I might start tapping with the person on a general statement like this one, “Nothing works for me!,” and see where it goes. This would be an approach to use with a client who likes to speak in speaks in generalities (“I am so depressed,” or “I am just anxious all the time”) and everything they say reminds them of something else again that may or may not be related. Their minds jump all around.
So we might begin tapping with, “Even though nothing works for me” and find a completion phrase that offers a new direction, or suggests that in fact there are some things that the person is good at.
Even though a part of me thinks that nothing works for me, I am curious about how many times I can remember in my life where I made a good decision, or did something that has had good consequences.
Sometimes this feels like the best way to enter the client’s concerns. But being specific is almost always better. Asking the client to come up with specific examples of their general statement always produces tappable phrases.
I like to use the metaphor of a cage, instead of a forest or a table with legs, for what holds a memory in place. The cage could be the incident, or the limiting belief. The bars are the aspects of the incident, or the incidents that hold the belief in place. To me, being specific means dissolving each of the bars of the cage, until there is a space big enough to step out of the cage into freedom.
I tell people that in some ways it doesn't matter where we start on an issue. To use another metaphor that I often suggest, 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. So picking out one specific incident is holding up a hologram of the entire cage.
It is a good idea to choose a specific incident that illustrates the feeling or the belief that the client has. A particular incident carries all the triggers, the emotional responses, the beliefs, and the physiological and behavioral symptoms.
Healing can begin only when each of these aspects is addressed. The more specific the actual language is in pinpointing the precise experience of the symptom, feeling, location, the more likely it is that the emotions of the memory will be uncoupled from the neurology in the brain that represents it.
Some examples of being specific:
Felicia said, “My doctor has always told me I am too hard on myself.”
I asked her “What specifically do you say to yourself?” That elicited some specific beliefs, particularly around self worth.
Then I asked her for some examples, specific stories, of “a time when something happened that made you think that about yourself…”
We tapped on each of those incidents, using her exact language patterns.
Sandy came to me for weight loss, and for “always feeling guilty." In her first comments I heard her say, “I have this pressure or anxiety on me to be the head of the household.” (Her husband died ten years ago and she has two children.)
I asked her “Where in your body do you feel that pressure?” “What does it feel like?” “Make a metaphor of that feeling.” We used all that language in the tapping.
It has turned out that she is a real talker, and in her long history with therapy has clearly managed to fill each session with her “stuff.” I find that if I focus her on her body in this way, on specific physical feelings, with precise language, she stops talking and goes inside. As we tap for the physical symptoms, the most brilliant revelations emerge from her. She hears herself.
Just the other day in the midst of tapping like this, she said suddenly, with huge surprise and then tears, “Omigod! I just realized that if I lost weight I’d be free of my mother and I could have my own life--but--then what would I DO? Ohhh, it is better to be in a prison because then you know what to expect!”
Those two sentences alone contain enough information to create a whole life-transforming tapping session around!
Even though if I lost weight I would be free of my mother, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though if I were free of my mother I could have my own life, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though it scares me to death to think of having my own life, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I wouldn't know what to do, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though it is better to be in a prison, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I don’t know what to expect if I am in charge of my life, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I might even be addicted to “being in this prison” – it is keeping me safe, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though focusing on my weight keeps me from having to notice how I really feel, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though carrying on an inner fight with my (dead) mother means I don’t have to pay attention to what is running my life, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though food has been what nourished me, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though all of this distracts me from feeling guilty about even being alive, I deeply and completely accept myself.
And those are just the starters!
Remembering her first comments, I also asked Sandy, “When in your life have you felt pressure to be responsible? Give me five specific times and tell me a title for each one, as if it were a movie.”
Then we would take a particular time, and I would say, “What moment in the event was the worst? What made it the worst? Was it a tone of voice, a look, a gesture, a taste?”
She rated the intensity of her response to that incident.
Then we tapped using her particular words, for:
“Even though ____(title)______ has been in my body all these years, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
We also tapped for all the aspects of the worst moment of the story.
April felt sad and depressed about the holidays coming up. But, seeking the source of those feelings in her history, when I asked her about her childhood memories of holiday times she described them in glowing terms. That was such a contradiction, since I knew that she had had a lot of emotional abuse as a child, so I wanted to know more.
We did a lot of talking and tapping on her answers to the question, “What did you lose when you lost your father?” She said she had lost the opportunity to resolve the problems she had had with him.
I asked her, ”What problems, specifically?” We worked with each one.
The most interesting moment came when we had gotten “this loss sadness” re-framed and down to a 2, and then April said she felt a sudden pain in her butt. It felt “like a Tasmanian devil poking me right there in the left buttock with a hot poker.” She has had chronic pain for many years, and that butt pain is a signal to her “that there is something I am uncomfortable with, actually terrified about.”
We had an interesting interchange that led her to ask herself “Am I strong enough to face the world without my pain?” The implication was, of course, that unconsciously she was using her pain to avoid facing the world on her own.
I suggested that she try saying it another way: “How will I know when I am strong enough to face the world without my pain?”
I asked her to check out the differences between the two ways of framing the question. This question utilized specificity in a different way.
April said that her first way of phrasing the question, “Am I strong enough?”, which she realized had been unconsciously there for a long time, produced a caged, overwhelmed anxiety, and a scared response in her body.
“How will I know when I am strong enough to face the world without my pain?” made her mind go in a direction toward “finding specific, quantifiable ways of looking for answers.”
Instead of being terrified, April realized that she saw this question as an interesting challenge.
TIP 3: Learning to Find the Core Question that is Running the Show
The “core question that is running the show” has probably been with us most of our lives. It likely got its start from a traumatic experience or a series of traumas over time in childhood, and because we didn't have much experience we thought that it meant something about us. That cold look, that loud voice, that frightening situation must have meant that there was something wrong with us. If we had been enough – smart enough, strong enough, fast enough, whatever enough, that wouldn't have happened.
That belief about ourselves and the emotions that accompany it literally become coded in our neurology in the limbic system of the brain, the part that gives us our unconscious responses to what is happening around us. It could even be said that the tendency toward having those experiences is an inherited trait. We might call it the emotional legacy of our family and ancestors.
In Shelley’s case, the core emotional legacy revolved round this anxious feeling that she could never do anything right. She was always feeling like she had done or was about to make a mistake.
I asked Shelley to say more about her feeling that she “has done something wrong.” Shelley began to talk about having fibromyalgia, and having seen many doctors who told her that her discomfort was all in her head. She felt like there was something wrong with her. Like she was just wrong.
“Where do you experience that ‘doing something wrong’ feeling in your body?” I asked. It was in her feet: “tingling, burning bottoms of my feet. I can’t stand in one place for more than three minutes.”
I am always interested in symptoms that show up in the body. I often find that the affected part of the body can be an evocative metaphor for what is going on in the person’s life. So I ask an open-ended question involving the body part to see if it evokes any response.
I asked Shelley, “What are your feet burning to do?”
She said promptly and vehemently, “My feet are burning to get away from all the childhood pain!!” This was surely a strong clue! It was as if her feet were leading us to the source of the problem.
When we encounter a symptom that carries an emotional charge, it is always a signal that something important is being triggered within the client. It suggests an metaphorical “door” to go in with EFT. Good questions can take the listener through this door and deeper into their own unconscious processes. It is useful to generate a list of specific experiences that carried that same feeling (“Tell me about a time when…And another time….and another…).
I was finding that once we took on a topic, Shelley was now able to stay focused, so I asked her to give me some examples of times in her childhood when she got the idea that she had “done something wrong.”
Shelley talked about all the times she was jealous of her sister growing up. Her sister could work with her hands in 4H, “and I always did the job wrong.” She talked about her mother having the same negative feelings about herself: “My grandmother was hell on wheels. Nothing was ever good enough for her. And my Mom was really hard on me. She yelled at me and hit me.”
This family history held another good clue. The latest neurological research suggests that our unconscious primal emotional responses are passed on to us from our ancestors at the cellular level in the limbic system of the brain. So if we find our selves the victim of someone’s irrationally dramatic emotional response, there is a good chance that something is triggering the cellular memory of what happened back there in their generational history. In other words, it is not about us!
So Shelley’s description of her mother being violently angry like her grandmother had let me know that we were on track to hopefully healing a painful distortion in her family’s emotional history. EFT is able to dissolve these neurological energy connections between the painful memory and the unconscious emotional response. The events then take on a different meaning in the stories we tell ourselves about how the world works.
I asked Shelley to find four specific painful times in her childhood when she had felt she had done something wrong, and it had resulted in an encounter like that with her mother. I asked her to give the stories titles, and pick the one that had the most emotional charge for her.
There were many many times, and she couldn't think of a particular one. So I asked her to make one up. I said, just imagine, that there you are, a little girl, and tell me a story about something that might happen to you or someone like you. Shelley started right in on a story she called “Mom Shaking and Hitting Me.”
The “little girl” had been 8 years old, and she was singled out from her siblings and punished by her mother, unjustly, for having “done something wrong.” The emotions she felt when Shelley thought about it now were sadness, anger and fear, and she felt them in her feet (not surprising!) as well as in her shoulders and back.
Our tapping included variations of these statements:
Even though I am being pointed out as the culprit and it’s not fair, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though she won’t listen to me, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though she is shaking and hitting me and I am really scared, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though it wasn't my fault, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I am really mad that my brother and sister are looking so pious, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I am feeling so scared, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though my feet are burning up about this, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I am carrying all this anger and sadness on my shoulders, I deeply and completely accept myself.
I asked Shelley what was the worst aspect of that experience? What bothered her the most?
Even though Mom has this terrible scary storm cloud in her face, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though Mom’s voice has this loud mean tone, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though she is gritting her teeth on the right side of her jaw and her jaw is clenched, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though her eyes are bulging she is so mad, I deeply and completely accept myself.
As we tapped, I was experimenting with different endings for the set up statement, using the ones that Shelley felt best about, and inviting her to use her own words.
I am open to bring healing to this.
I was doing the best I could.
I know I am a good girl inside.
It wasn't my fault.
I forgive myself.
I honor myself for how hard this was.
Shelley shared that when her mom was hitting her and screaming, Shelley herself started to yell back. Her mother called this “sassing.” Sassing angered her mother even further, and her emotions escalated even further.
I asked Shelley, "What did that experience lead you to believe about yourself? What did this experience mean about you?"
The sadness trembled in her voice, “I am really bad.”
We tapped for variations of:
Even though I am really bad, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though talking back got me in a lot of trouble and hurt, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though Mom made me feel like I was a really bad girl, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though my brother and sister let her think I was the bad one, and that made me feel so mad and sad, I deeply and completely accept myself.
When I finally asked Shelley to replay the movie after our rounds of tapping, she said she noticed that she “wasn’t quite so scared this time.”
TIP 4: How to Ask Your Body for What to Tap On
As a way of checking the 0-10 intensity ratings that we often use in EFT, I like to invite the person to notice their inner sensations to verify what is going on for them.Asking your body and listening for the answers is often the first time the body’s “voice” has ever been paid any attention. By the time emotions and symptoms have become a problem, what the body wants and needs has probably been ignored for a long time! We are so good at “toughing it out,” “soldiering on,” or helping someone else.
My client Shelley had begun to transform the meaning of some painful experiences in her childhood. She had started out feeling like there was” just something wrong” with her. “Nothing works for me!” she had said. “I always feel like I have done, or am about to do, something wrong!” Her feet had hurt so bad it was hard to stand for longer than three minutes.
But now she was feeling less scared when she thought about how her mother had always seemed to single her out for punishment, and her siblings let that happen. She had always felt helpless and victimized.
“How do you know that you are not so scared?” I asked her. “What do you notice in your body, your thoughts, your feelings that lets you know you are not so scared?”
After we talked about this for a bit, I wondered how it would feel if she stood up. She did. “How do your feet feel now?” I asked.
She said, “Hmmm. My right foot doesn’t quite buy it, this not-so-scared feeling. (How do you know?) It feels weird. Bigger than the other foot.”
As we explored it, this answer led us into a fascinating, creative and imaginative adventure with Shelley’s feet. They took on separate personalities, as if her identity had split into two parts and each took a foot to stand in.
Her right foot seemed to be saying it didn’t want her to get her hopes up. It might not be safe to stand / stand up for herself.
Playing along with this, suspecting that I would get interesting and useful information that we could use, I asked her to give her two feet names, and asked what their specific jobs were for her. The left foot was Steady Eddy: “It knows who it is. It stays the course. It has strength.” The right foot was “erratic, meandering.”
So we tapped for the different feelings of each of the feet.
My next questions pointed toward what I think is the very key of healing. People don’t usually understand this question at first – no one has taught us to think this essential way -- but when I keep working with it with the client, working around it, this next question can produce the revelations that lead to growth and healing.
The question is:
What is the positive intention of that emotion/behavior/symptom?
If the part of you that is running that behavior were trying to get something for you, what would it be?
I might even follow the flow from the person’s first answer to a deeper one by saying: “So if you got that, what would it get for you that is even more important?” This question can be asked again and again, and the answers go deeper each time.
I always assume that if something is blocking the flow of spirit toward manifesting in the fullest possible way through a person, it has some positive intention. In EFT terms this is a Psychological Reversal. The symptom, whether it is a limiting belief, a behavior, or a body response or pain, is a dark angel, so to speak. I think of it as a part of us that has been trying forever to get something for us, usually safety or protection.
It is like a horse with blinders, I will say, “This part of you is trying desperately to help you, but it only knows how to do this one strategy – this symptom – and it is stuck in the ON position. Maybe it is trying to distract you from facing something difficult, or maybe it is keeping you from saying or doing something that in the past might have been dangerous or not allowed. But now this strategy is not longer helpful to you. It stands in the way of your healing.”
Shelley had said that if I could watch her walk toward me I would notice that her right foot was pointed outward, while the left one moved straight ahead. She said that right now after all this tapping and attention her right foot was “feeling really strange.”
So I asked her, If each of your feet had a message for you, what would those messages be? What are your feet trying to get for you that is positive?
Suddenly Shelley gasped and said, “I am getting this image of myself standing there yelling back at my mom, and that sets my Mom off even more!”
And then she had a cascade of insights that were, amazingly, led by her thoughts about her feet. We just tapped together continuously through all the points as she exclaimed, “My left foot seems so strong, but really it is passive! It didn’t do squat! It made me stay there and take my mom’s abuse! I was paying more attention to my mom and my siblings than I was to how I was feeling!
And there is my right foot -- it sticks out when I walk. It is trying to get away! It knows that I don’t have to stay when something bad is happening! But my left foot is saying ‘Be quiet and just take it.’ Here I thought it was the strong steady one! No wonder I never know what I want!”
Now I asked Shelley, “If your feet could have access to other, more powerful and much more effective strategies for getting what they have been trying to get for you, would they be interested?”
She asked them! A little “foot discussion” ensued, and both feet seemed to agree that each of them could make good use of the gifts of the other, and together they would be much stronger. We made sure that both feet were willing to share their particular gifts on behalf of the whole of Shelley, so that both sides could feel certain that she was both safe and strong.
We tapped for what gifts each of those feet had to offer to the other, so that they could work together to help Shelley stand up for herself. The left foot could give its strength and steadiness to the meandering right foot, and the right foot could give its knowing when something was abusive and not fair, so that the left foot could “feel safe, to come out of hiding” and the right foot could “stick to its resolve to get me out of there!”
I had Shelley tap for the attributes of the left foot on the points on her left side, and the attributes of her right foot on the points on her right side. After a few times of this, I inserted the words, “this conflict” and she tapped that phrase with both hands through the points.
Then we tapped for variations of:
Even though my feet had been in conflict, I love and accept myself ( she hadn’t been able to say this before, but she found she could say it now). My feet choose to work together to help me stand up for myself.
Even though I thought I had to stand there and take the abuse, now I know how to tell when something bad is happening to me. I can feel it in my body. I can now walk out of there on my own two feet if I need to.
Even though I paid more attention to other people’s emotions, because I had to in order to survive, now I know what I am feeling and I choose to take action on my own behalf. I understand myself and what I deserve from a different perspective now.
Even though I thought my feet were the problem, I see now that my real feat is to learn how to use them to take steps on my own behalf!
She laughed at this pun. Being able to laugh in the midst of powerful negative emotion is a good intervention in itself. I love looking for plays on the client’s own words and do it constantly. Finding opportunities to be creative like this makes EFT fun for me!
At last both of the feet felt balanced and no longer burning and “weird.” I asked Shelley again to replay her movie of her mom hitting and screaming, and to notice whether she was seeing the movie from her own eyes, or watching herself in the movie.
She said, “Oh, before I was watching all this happen to me and I was feeling so helpless. But now I am inside my self, standing steady in myself. I am looking at my mom, right in to her eyes, and I calmly and clearly tell her my story. I am not at fault. I know am not bad.
Wow! Since I am not ‘sassing her’ she quiets down. She is willing to arbitrate the dispute among my siblings instead of just seizing me to punish.”
Shelley was so surprised to hear herself say that!
We tapped through all the points with these powerful, positive statements:
Even though before I was watching all this happen to me and I was feeling so helpless and wronged , now I can love and accept myself, and I am inside my self, standing steady in myself.
Even though I used to let myself be abused, now I can stand there and look at my mom, and I calmly and clearly tell her my story .
Even though I stood that abuse for so long, now I can stand up and walk away if I need to.
Even though I thought I was a bad person and couldn’t do anything right , I now know that I am truly good inside, and I deserve to be treated better, especially by myself!
I asked Shelley to play the movie one more time. She was silent for a moment, and then she said in a quiet voice, “I hear an inner voice speaking to me. It is saying ‘This is not about you, Shelley. You are OK.’”
Finally I asked Shelley to go back through her life in her memory, sorting for other times when she had stood up for her own truth. As she did this, Shelley began to realize that her mother had had the same feelings. Her grandmother had been “hell on wheels,” she said again, always yelling and hitting. Nothing Shelley’s mother had done as a child had ever been good enough for her own mother.
Shelley realized that when she “sassed her mother back,” in effect standing up for herself, it threw her mother into a frenzy of hitting and yelling herself, and Shelley could see that her mother was unconsciously reacting to her own mother, not to Shelley herself. She could see herself differently now, as someone who had always been trying to stand up for herself.
Her shoulders and her whole body were relaxed now, and her face was peaceful, and radiating a vibrant energy. We talked about the final test, which would be to stand up now, without pain. In the past, it would have taken only three minutes of standing, and then later her feet would have hurt for days.
Shelley decided that just standing there right now sounded boring. She was going to leave the test for the next day, and do something fun with her feet, like dancing.
TIP 5: Good Questions to Generate Specific Tapping Phrases
As Shelley and I worked together over time, I incorporated many other “I can ask myself for the answer” skills.; Like most people who have chronic pain, she was used to going to the “experts” to “get fixed” because she felt “broken.” It was a huge revelation to her to learn that she could be a source of her own wisdom and healing.
Here is an overview of how I used questions to assist Shelley toward cognitive shifts. Always I am on the look-out / listen-in for answers that contain emotional charge – these are what we will tap on.
Asking any of the following questions will elicit magnificent tappable responses in the client’s own unique phrasing.
Here are some questions for:
1. Knowing what you want
• What do you want? (something that is within yourself and within your control to affect)
• How will you know when you are getting what you want?
• What will you be looking for, sensing for, that will let you know that you are on the right track?
• What (in yourself) stops you from getting what you want?
• Say more about that…(when the client has made a statement that catches your attention)
2. Using your body to learn how you know what you want
• Where do you experience that _______ feeling in your body?
• If those tears/that feeling had a voice, what would they/it be saying?
• If your (shoulder/back/throat) could talk, what would it say?
• Ask a metaphorical question involving the body part.
• It feels like _______ , or as if ________...
• How do you know that you have changed?
• What do you notice in your body, your thoughts, your feelings that lets you know?
3. Finding limiting beliefs
• Tell me about a time when ….
• What was the worst aspect of that experience?
• What did that (experience/tone of voice/trauma) lead you to believe about yourself?
• What did that mean about you?
• How is that a problem for you?
• What emotion do you feel when you say that belief to and about yourself?
4. Finding the positive intention
• What is the positive intention of that emotion/behavior/symptom?
• If the part of you that is running that behavior were trying to get something for you, what would it be? So if you got that, what would it get for you that is even more important?”
• If that part of you could have access to other, more powerful and much more effective strategies for getting what it has been trying to get for you, would it be interested?
Here is one more useful and creative question to ask, when a person has begun to open to the flow of change within, and has a new sense of direction and choice. It is, “Tell me about other times in the past when you felt yourself acting positively, with strength and purpose and clarity -- even tiny experiences count.”
The purpose here is to reveal to the client that she has ALWAYS had this capacity to keep herself safe, and to be smart or creative or loving or assertive or compassionate.
It is a revelation to discover that you have been good all along!
There is a lot more that could be said about good questions! But this is a good start.
The “positive intention” question, and “Where do you feel that in your body?” and “If those tears, that tightness, this sensation... had a voice, what would it be saying?” are the questions I ask most often, especially if some objection seems to be in the way of growth. They produce the most interesting answers.
And then I weave all of the words, phrases, emotions and memories that arise in response into EFT set up phrases and affirmations.
Pay attention to what people say when they answer these questions. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but over and over again something a client says will catch in my ear, so to speak, and when I repeat it back to them in an EFT tapping phrase, they will say in astonishment, “How did you know that!!! “ They think I am so insightful! Well, I am, but I have learned that a lot of insight is just Paying Attention.
Important caveats about asking questions:
I have had the experience of getting so intoxicated with the questions and with following the answers that I get led away from doing EFT. So keep your intention in mind!
The other problem that can arise is when you are working with a very associative thinker. This is the person for whom every thought or word reminds them of something else, and you as the practitioner find yourself continually scrambling to keep up. “Like herding cats” is an apt expression here!
At some point you must take a stand and focus. Then just keep cycling back to your chosen focus. Sometimes this is easier said than done! Working with body sensations is always a good idea with an associative thinker. It gets the client out of their story and into their body, and that is where their healing lies.
You might print out these questions and keep them handy, referring to them in sessions. Soon it will become second nature to ask them when you notice there is something in your client’s behavior or statements that you find yourself curious about.
Be on the look out inside: learn to notice when someone (maybe even you!) is making a leap between assumptions that may make logical sense, but that may also turn out to be an unexamined unconscious response.
These unexamined, unconscious responses are where the gold of transformation lies!