Y was 11 years old. He was an enthusiastic member of the scouts who loved camping, but was very wary of striking matches. This made him keen to overcome his fear.
Do you think it’s something that your tapping could help with?
Well, the best way to find out is to give it a go. Would you like to do that?
We started tapping. His mum and dad were in the background, within earshot but out of sight. It transpired that there were over ten different aspects holding his fear firmly in place, so we just worked through them, one at a time, as he raised them.
Aspects and reminder phrases
Even though I’m afraid of striking matches, I do want to, and I am a good scout - (afraid of striking matches)
Even though I’m shaking, with this panicky feeling all over my body... - (this shaking, this panicky feeling all over)
Even though, if I can’t strike a match, that means I’m not a good scout... - (afraid I’m not a good scout...)
Even though I’m afraid I’ll burn my fingertips when I strike the match... - (afraid I’ll burn my fingertips...)
Even though I’m afraid I’ll be too slow and then I’ll get my fingers burnt... - (afraid I’ll be too slow...)
Even though that ‘whoosh’ bit is the scary bit... - (that ‘whoosh’ bit, it’s scary...)
Even though I’m afraid of it enlarging... the explosion enlarging... I’ve not seen it ... or heard of it... but it’s in my imagination - (the explosion enlarging, it’s just in my imagination...)
Once the intensity was down on these aspects, as a way of testing our progress, I asked him how he felt about the possibility of lighting an extra-long safety match. No pressure, only if he wanted to and felt ready to. Yes he did. Would he like to try that now? Yes he would.
He felt fine, no shaky, panicky feeling – and no burnt fingers!
Was he ready for more? Yes. Now? Yes (displaying growing confidence and great determination to see this through, even though it was proving to be more entrenched than perhaps we had anticipated).
So we continued to tap on the remaining aspects eg:
Even though I’m worried because I won’t have that distance between the flame and my fingertips on a shorter match...
Even though I’ve watched Dad strike a match and burn his fingers...
(with deliberate exaggeration, and extra loud to ensure Dad heard – they have a great father/son relationship; nervous laughter)
Even though maybe I won’t be so careless and burn my fingers like Dad did...
(with great delight; more confident laughter this time)
Even though I’ve seen other people get their fingers burnt too...
I asked him whether he’d seen anybody strike a match in a way that he admired and thought was safe. Yes. B (an older scout, his ‘hero’, someone else he looked up to).
Even though I’d like to strike a match like B does, but I’m not there yet...
(introducing another possibility, which clearly piqued his interest)
Even though I can’t strike a match like B yet... I wonder whether he was ever afraid of burning his fingers? ... he’s had years more practice than me...
(smiles, and sitting up straighter, as he took on board these new ideas)
I asked him whether he felt ready to strike a shorter match. Yes. Unfortunately there was only a packet of cardboard matches to hand (this was an impromptu session) – and they can be notoriously difficult at the best of times. He got red and flustered with his efforts, and visibly shaken when told, ‘That’s all we’ve got’. But he was determined to succeed.
Even though I feel bad about wasting these matches... I don’t want to waste them...
Even though these are rubbish matches...!!
(that massively relieved the tension; laughing) His remarkable perseverance paid off. For a final experiment he wanted to strike a match and light a candle. The first match he blew out because it was burning down too quickly.
Even though I blew it out before I’d lit the candle... I was in control... and that’s what I decided... that was the smart thing to do... and I’m safe...
Even though I’m fed up now... I just want to do it, so I don’t have to again until I need to...
(a pressure he had put entirely on himself)
It was well and truly time to wrap things up! Using a wood match, at Dad’s suggestion, he rendered safe the remaining ‘rubbish’ unlit cardboard matches – with great aplomb. That was most successful, and clearly demonstrated his control, and how completely he had dissolved his fear of the explosion. A very positive place to finish.
We varied these to include all sorts of other positive phrases like:
I’m still a good scout
I know Mum and Dad still love me (that seemed a really important one)
I’m still OK, I’m still me, I’m still a great lad
I’m a brilliant member of my troop anyway
And I look up to B’s match-lighting technique
It’s good to be wary of fire
I choose to look after my fingertips
I love camping
Recently, some years on, Y casually remarked,
That EFT is good, you know. It works. I’ve been the first to volunteer to light the camp fire, the gas cooker, the candle on the cake ever since!’
But, equally importantly, he hasn’t morphed into a pyromaniac either. Just an adventurous, confident, well-grounded and trustworthy young man. The beauty of EFT is that it clears the unhelpful, life-limiting, excess emotional charge around something, but it does not remove normal emotional reactions (fire can be hugely destructive, a healthy respect for it is entirely
appropriate) – nor common sense.
Hilary Jones is an AAMET Accredited Certified Trainer NQT based in the West Mindlands, UK. As a proud member of the AAMET International Executive Board, Hilary specialises in the relief of emotional and physical pains and a wide spectrum of traumas. Visit Hilary's AAMET profile