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Using EFT for Gratitude (Article)
By Dr. Patricia Carrington
I am always interested in new uses for EFT that may not yet been recognized. Many of us use this remarkable technique when things go wrong in our lives but fail to recognize that it can be used equally successfully to enhance what is already good in our lives. One such use of EFT is to increase the deeply affirming experience of being genuinely GRATEFUL.
The importance of gratitude in changing the tenor of our lives has been pointed out by many who have thought carefully about what can bring deep meaning and happiness into our lives. Along these lines, Carol Look regularly advises her workshop participants to create a daily gratitude list on which they write down those things they are grateful for that day. This is an important recommendation. Today I am going to add to it by telling you about using this same concept to make this exercise even more powerful.
Before I tell you how you might use EFT to increase the sense of gratitude in your life, I want to point out that contrary to popular belief, gratitude is not easily come by–genuine gratitude that is –– despite the fact that there is much lip-service paid to “gratitude” in our society. In fact, even for those people who are able to feel grateful from their hearts, there are many areas in even their lives where gratitude could be experienced but it is probably not.
This difficulty arises because, as a species, we are hard-wired, by natural selection over
time, to be more alert to difficulties and dangers than to anything else. Our well known “orienting response must have saved our lives many a time when saber tooth tigers lurked outside our cave-homes. Under such life-threatening conditions it was certainly the better part of wisdom to be hyper vigilant. We needed to be alert to even the sound of a crackling twig on the forest floor which might signal the approach of an enemy.
Given that the orienting response seems to be an important component of our inherited neurological makeup, how then can we allow ourselves to give equal attention to the positive things in our lives –– those things that bring us “good” each day? This is clearly not as easy as we might think.
Many people agree that it is useful to be grateful, and many religious traditions emphasize gratitude as an important component of living, but today it is unfortunately most often expressed in a manner that results in only lip service. If, for example, you ask a group of people to write down five things for which they are grateful you will soon discover that the lists that they generate will more often than not consist of what each person feels they should be grateful for. These people will indicate that they are grateful for their children, their homes, their partners and friends, their health, etc., but they will usually refer only to large concepts. They may very well feel grateful in their minds that they have these things when they stop to think about them, but this isn’t what makes up an actual experience of gratitude.
It is the little things in life that bring us the experience of gratitude, and it is therefore far more useful to break up your description of those things that are good in your life into small segments, into real scenes, and then “tap in” the genuine gratitude that you feel for them. We can use EFT to do this in the following ways:
If you feel particularly good about something that has happened in your life, you can “tap in” the gratitude that you feel at the moment so that it becomes a permanent part of your life (see my first article in this series which describes the process of “tapping in” the positive). This is an excellent way to increase the energy of gratitude in your life.
You are more likely, however, to use the tactic of tapping-in gratitude when you are feeling uncomfortable about. Perhaps something or someone has disappointed or angered or offended you and therefore you presently see only the negative that situation.
This is the exact time when it is most useful to use EFT “to tap” in the positive aspects of that person or situation and thereby change what is called your “vibrational frequency”. Here is how you can do this:
First, acknowledge to yourself your disappointment, anger, discouragement, self recrimination or whatever other negative emotion you may be feeling by incorporating that into the first part of your EFT Statement that you will repeat as you tap. Then follow this by an EFT phrase that expresses appreciation for some aspect of the experience or person in question by acknowledging some positive aspect of that experience or person, no matter how brief or fleeting it may be. Here’s an example of how you could make use of EFT to create a true sense of gratitude if, for instance, if you were disappointed in a social gathering the day before.
To handle this, you might formulate an EFT Choices statement that went something like this: “Even though I’m disappointed at how I felt at that party yesterday, I’m grateful for the way I handled myself by not overeating when I easily could have.”
This statement would be appropriate, for example, if you had managed to eat sensibly and stick to a healthy diet despite the many food temptations that can present themselves at a party, and especially when that party had not been congenial to you. Genuine self appreciation and gratitude for your own behavior under pressure is certainly justified here –– you handled something ordinarily difficult for you (an uncomfortable social situation) constructively, and overcame an old habit.
In using EFT for this issue you may be more comfortable using a more moderate and objective phrase such as “I appreciate” rather than saying, “I’m grateful for”, but both will bring you to the same experience ─ that of genuine gratitude.
Tapping on positive moments that have occurred during a negative experience (almost any negative experience has those moments) can bring to your attention these moments in a very special fashion. You may well find that if you tap for one or two rounds of EFT using a positive statement of appreciation (repeated at each EFT point) that you will spontaneously begin to remember other moments that occurred during that party (or whatever your negative situation happens to be) when something went right for you. It is instructive to watch how our minds, once turned in a positive direction, will tend to remember more and more positive aspects of an originally negative situation; those moments that caused us to feel a sense of relief, gratitude, and possibly even pleasure.
One small moment of gratefulness that is “tapped in” using EFT, can begin to create a mood of appreciation, and by will then automatically call to mind other aspects of the same situation that will now bring forth even more appreciation in you, a vicious cycle has been reversed.
The trick is to identify the fleeting positive memories in the situation and then to tap on them. In the instance I have just described about a disappointing party, it would be natural to thin first of a flood of negative things about the party. You might have been disappointed by the people and their reactions to you, or by the general atmosphere, or by the fact that you didn’t say or do something you would have liked to have said or done. However, as you begin to tap on the remembered positive moments (however brief and fleeting they may be) you will be starting your positive cycle.
One positive thought then leads to another so that before you have finished tapping on your appreciation for the way you handled your eating behavior at the party, you may well now remember a moment during it when you had a brief but enjoyable exchange with someone else. You might recall that someone smiled briefly but delightedly at you as the two of you passed in the hall, or maybe did so just as they were leaving the house, or you were. After that more brief positive moments may start to return to your mind, moments during which the party was momentarily satisfying.
When this happens, return to doing EFT and do another round of all-positive tapping to consolidate your gains and solidify these positive memories. This is done by tapping on just the positive, not using any negative “Even though” statements at all.
For example, you might say at each tapping point something like: “Even though I was disappointed by the party, I remember that moment when (insert person’s name) and I exchanged those nice remarks that we really meant.”
If you do this, other thoughts of a positive nature will probably emerge. You may suddenly remember how you found an easy parking place right in front of the house when you arrived at the party, or how your gift of a small food contribution to the dinner disappeared rapidly as guests gobbled it up delightedly, and other events of a positive nature may now come to your mind, ones that were initially obscured by your feelings of disappointment.
Such small specific events, now appreciated, constitute the essence of true gratitude. They are not just lip service to the concept because now there is concrete evidence in your memory that there WAS good in this situation.
Similarly, appreciation for another person can emerge when you identify your own positive response to something specific that they did, perhaps yesterday, perhaps last week, or maybe when you last saw them. This will be some moment when you were delighted with what they were saying or doing, a moment which added something to your life.
You can “tap in” positive memories of fleeting moments with another person at a time when you are feeling annoyed at, disappointed in, or upset with that other person. In such a situation you might make use of an EFT statement such as:
“Even though (name of person) infuriates me when they start criticizing everybody, I choose to remember the way they shared with me that important piece of information they had come across last week that I would never have known about.” Or, to shorten that statement for the sake of tapping, you might use this variation:
“Even though I’m annoyed at (name of person) for their criticism of everyone around them, I’m grateful for those gems of information they shared with me.”
The point is that, by isolating the positive fleeting moments of GOOD you may have experienced in a particular situation or with a specific person, you will be able to create an entirely different energy within you by “tapping in” the genuine appreciation you now feel. This can lead to a gratefulness that is spontaneous and unforced. It is the gratefulness for life when it is truly good.
EFT Master, Dr. Patricia Carrington