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Why use the Negative in EFT?

EFT as a Pattern Interrupt

Why the EFT setup statement is not a negative affirmation

Sometimes I work with clients who are familiar with the use of positive affirmations to bring about positive change. And so they are also (rightly) wary of saying anything negative which might be programming their behaviour in a negative way.

These people often worry that the EFT setup statement is acting as a “negative affirmation” because it involves repeating the problem. (For example: “Even though I feel angry I deeply and completely accept myself”; or “Even though I can’t seem to make progress in my life, I deeply and completely accept myself”).

But it is my firm belief that stating the problem in the EFT setup statement is NOT having the effect of a negative affirmation.

The most convincing reason for thinking this is the effect of EFT itself. Applying EFT causes the stated problem to go away – or at least be reduced. There has been no “affirmation” of the problem. But why should this be? Here’s my understanding of why repeating the problem within the EFT procedure is not like making a negative affirmation.

When we perform the EFT procedure, we do at least two things which negate or interrupt the negative.

Firstly, the setup statement linguistically overrides the problem with a positive statement (“I accept myself”). “Even though” is the same as “but”. I believe this has some effect even without tapping, as many people report intensity dropping just while doing the setup (although they will also be either rubbing the sore spot or tapping the side of the hand).

Secondly, and most importantly, we never simply say the setup statement or the reminder phrase by itself – we are also TAPPING at the same time. It is the tapping that “undoes” the disruption around the issue. I understand it this way:

The central “discovery” of EFT (and other meridian therapies) is that “all negative emotions are caused by a disruption to the energy system”.

An original event (such as a trauma) produced a physical disruption to the energy system and that event becomes associated with the negative feeling that accompanied it (e.g fear or grief). This “programs” the system. So whenever the system is reminded of the trauma (by thinking about it), the program “runs”, re-creating the energy disruption and re-creating the negative feeling at the same time.

When you try to “run” the program by stating the problem, but you tap at the same time, the tapping acts as a pattern interrupt.

The tapping interferes with the running of the old program, and pretty quickly, the energy system re-aligns and learns that the old program does not have to be run every time the trauma is remembered. And in fact, it can’t run – because the old association has been overwritten by the new one.

But you can’t “interrupt the program” in this way, unless you have started the program running to start with. That’s why you have to “tune in” to the problem by stating it, and tap at the same time, to stop it running.

In fact, it is actually useful to focus on and voice the problem with as much negativity and intensity as you can (i.e. really tune into it) while you are tapping (but without unduly upsetting yourself in the process, which isn’t necessary).

Persistence will pay off and if you encounter difficulties along the way you might want to seek some help form an experienced EFT therapist.  I offer EFT by telephone and for more information visit my website  While you’re there don’t forget to sign up for the free newsletter and get your free 61 page report on EFT