negative-emotions-scientific-americanOne of the hallmarks of EFT is using the setup phrase effectively. What is this phrase? and Why is it so crucial?

This phrase consists of two parts. The first is acknowledging that our negative emotion or pain. The second is allowing ourselves to experience forgiveness and acceptance regardless of the negative emotion or pain.

The setup phrase is a variation of the following: Even though (negative emotion/ pain), I deeply and completely love, forgive, and accept myself. More on this in a bit.

Many people new to EFT and some EFT practitioners question the validity and helpfulness of focusing on the negative emotion. Isn’t our objective to get rid of negativity and the pain? The answer, of course, is Yes. But,recent research has revealed the power and benefit of negative emotions. In a recent article in the Scientific American titled Negative Emotions Are Key to Well-Being the author, Tori Rodriguez, argues that our culture’s bias toward positive thinking may not be a good thing. Rodriguez’s conclusions support the structure of our EFT setup phrase.

Negative emotion helps us evaluate and make sense

Personal growth and development and understanding of the self are directly tied to reflecting and confronting the adversities we face in our lives. Negative emotions and unpleasant feelings help us evaluate and make sense of the ups and downs we experience. A study by psychologist Jonathan M. Adler of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering and Hal E. Hershfield of New York University found that individuals who are able to process both the negative and positive emotions of a situation experienced more positive improvements after the unpleasant situation. The researchers concluded that “taking the good and the bad together may detoxify the bad experiences, allowing you to make meaning out of them in a way that supports psychological well-being.”

Suppressing negative emotion has opposite effect

Another study showed that suppressing negative emotion doesn’t make it go away. Instead those negative thoughts stay under the surface and are multiplied or rebound which increase stress and sabotages any possible progress. Rodriguez recommends that “instead of backing away from negative emotions, [we] accept them.” By accepting them, we decrease them.

The power of the negative in EFT

The setup phrase then accomplishes these two objectives: 1. we acknowledge the negative emotion and 2. by doing so, we can evaluate and make sense of it thereby removing its effect on us. Of course, we will not stay in the negative. Part of the EFT technique, used correctly, is to reframe (or make sense) of the negative into a positive. We cannot achieve the reframe, though, without first accomplishing the objective to ACKNOWLEDGE the reality of our emotion or sensation. When we acknowledge the emotion or feeling, we no longer resist and are able to release it.

We know we are releasing when the intensity of the emotion begins to lessen and when we begin to see the situation in a different way. For me, this reframing usually comes as a new thought about the situation; it feels like movement forward. The reframe involves a new awareness and a new feeling attached to the situation. The awareness can be both bodily and mental. We can feel the new perspective in our body. We feel differently, lighter. We also THINK differently.

Even though we use targeted tapping on the negative to release it, the objective is always to find our way to the positive. This turn to the positive will come naturally when the negative is released. Only by working through and releasing the negative can we then focus on the positive without the nagging feeling that we are not being completely truthful. The release of the negative makes our focus on the positive much more authentic and powerful.