Uncovering Specific Events - A Valuable Tool
How to break down complex cases into easy pieces and erode the Guard at the Gate's resistance
Introducing: The Table Top and Table Legs Metaphor
In this article we once again come up against The Guard at the Gate (our ego's belief in separation) and his incessant need to interfere with the healing efforts of The Unseen Therapist (the loving correction of that belief). He loves to complicate things and hide important details and, in doing so, often succeeds in taking our eye off the prize. This is true of all man-made healing methods, including EFT and medicine. Complete healing (True Forgiveness) is impeded to the extent The Guard at the Gate is active.
Fortunately, this article on Specific Events shows us how to expose those hidden details and break down even the most complex issues into their fundamental building blocks. This brings to awareness those essential pieces that The Guard at the Gate might like to hide and thus paves the way for more complete resolution of the issue. It also erodes The Guard at the Gate's overall resistance.
Our ability to collapse Specific Events, then, is a truly valuable tool for clearing away the debris and allowing The Unseen Therapist to do her job.
Let's begin our exploration of Specific Events with a common challenge. That is, we tend to see our issues through "global glasses" and we thus tend to describe them using broad labels. Examples might be...
- “I don’t feel worthy of acceptance”
- “I don’t deserve financial security”
- “I’m not comfortable with intimacy”
- “I have a control issue”
- “I have a hard time trusting people”
- “I always attract the wrong partner”
- “I sabotage my own financial success”
- "I have low self esteem”
- “I am claustrophobic”
- “I’m an emotional overeater”
- “I have a lot of stress at my job”
- “My mother thinks I’m worthless”
- "Men don’t treat me well"
- “I have a fear of public speaking”
- "I'm afraid of rejection”
The issues above are all very global, which means they are generally stated and, as a result, contain many Aspects or pieces. I am pleased to report, however, that sometimes The Unseen Therapist can cleanly resolve these global issues as stated and there is no need to dive into the details. When this appears to happen, please be diligent at testing the result. This way you are not fooled into thinking a surface result is the real thing.
But when the details are necessary, trying to resolve these global issues with a round or so of Optimal EFT (or anything else) is like trying to collapse a solid oak table by pounding your fist on the table top. With enough repeated pounding you might weaken a table leg or two, but that's about it.
A better approach is to take aim at the table legs (details) that support the table top. Remove or weaken the table legs and the table top falls. Herein lies the simplicity, and the power, of Specific Events.
Tabletop and Table Legs - An Ideal Optimal EFT Metaphor
Let's expand on this very important metaphor to help us be more specific with these global issues. Specific Events are, quite simply, the Table Legs supporting the globally stated issue, or Tabletop. As you will soon see, to address the Table Leg with Optimal EFT is always more specific than addressing the Tabletop.
To clarify, let's explore the globally stated, "I'm afraid of rejection" issue from the list above.
Rejection example: Instead of using Optimal EFT on this "I'm afraid of rejection" Tabletop issue, let’s be more specific and break it down into the Specific Events (Table Legs) that underlie it. Not everyone has a fear of rejection, but you can be sure that those who do will have some experience, or Specific Events, in their past to back it up. For instance:
- The time when my 3rd grade teacher embarrassed me in front of the class.
- The time when my father didn't attend my high school graduation and I felt left out.
- The time when my high school sweetheart said, 'I've grown tired of you'.
- The time when I was sent to my room for the whole day on Thanksgiving at age 8.
- The time when Mom told me 'you'll never get married unless you are thin like your sister'.
- The time when I was cut from the Little League baseball team.
Can you see how each of these events could possibly result in someone saying “OUCH! I just got rejected”? Each of these painful rejections gets stored in our systems and can cause us to avoid rejection at all cost. This might affect the choices we make or the chances we are willing to take in life.
These Table Legs are contributors to the "I'm afraid of rejection" issue. They represent the basis of the problem. They are the causes while the fear of rejection is but the symptom. To use Optimal EFT for an issue like this, we look for the Table Legs and then neutralize those individual causes one by one. When we do, each leg that is removed (or weakened) destabilizes the Tabletop until it eventually collapses and the fear of rejection issue fades.
Assuming you can find and address all the Aspects in each Specific Event, the events that you neutralize will stay neutralized, and you can confirm that through testing it over time. This allows you to systematically work through your issues and thereby improves your confidence in, and success with, the Optimal EFT process.
Tip - look for early, foundational events
You might notice that the events we have chosen for this example are all from childhood. That’s because the earlier events have the best chance of being foundational events, i.e. providing stronger support for the Tabletop. If you can imagine that the Table Legs supporting an issue can all be different sizes and strengths, doesn’t it make the most sense to knock out the big ones first? The farther back you can go in your personal history to find a related event, the bigger that leg is likely to be.
Tip - The Generalization Effect
Keep your eye out for The EFT Generalization Effect. Often the various Table Legs have some common themes among them so that removing a few legs has an effect on the remaining ones. For example, many of the rejection issues may involve a parent, or school or a particular experience such as domestic abuse or war. Even if an issue has hundreds or thousands of table legs, we can often remove 5, 10 or 20 of them with Optimal EFT and then watch as the generalization effect collapses the whole Table Top.
To the right is a short video describing the Table Top/Table Leg metaphor and how the EFT Generalization Effect works. Note that the source article for this video is our Gold Standard EFT Tutorial, the forerunner to Optimal EFT. The metaphor retains its validity in this more advanced level of EFT.
Other Specific Event examples
Using Optimal EFT on Specific Events is not limited to rejection issues. It applies to fear, anger, guilt, grief, trauma and every emotional issue you can name. It also applies to all the emotional causes of physical and performance issues. Break these issues down to the Specific Events causing them and you have a formula to bring freedom to just about every issue.
With this idea, no issue is too complex because they can all be broken down to their individual pieces and then collapsed with Optimal EFT. Here are some classic examples:
- A traumatized war veteran may have a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is a global issue because it is caused by many war related Specific Events. Simply identify each of the specific war events and address them one at a time with Optimal EFT. When enough of them have been neutralized, the PTSD no longer has a cause and the Table Top falls along with the veteran's nightmares, intrusive memories, headaches, panic attacks and so on.
- Anger issues always have causes and those causes are the Specific Events from which the anger came. Think about your own past, for example, and recall some Specific Events that created anger within you. Do they not still seethe under the surface only to show up now and then as anger outbursts in current time? Can you see that after neutralizing those events with Optimal EFT, you would have less in your "anger bucket" and the result would be fewer anger episodes?
- Business, sports, music and public speaking performance issues almost invariably have Specific Events at their core. In these cases, the Specific Events usually generate limiting emotions or beliefs that tend to inhibit performance. Examples: (1) My father said, "rich people are greedy," (2) If I excel at baseball my schoolmates will resent me just like my cousin did when I was age 7, (3) I can't sing that higher note because my buddies said I would sound like a sissy and (4) I don't deserve a standing ovation because my 8th grade teacher embarrassed me by calling me a showoff. We have all accumulated a river full of these mental stoppers and they all gather behind our own personal dam. Collapsing them with Optimal EFT breaks the dam and opens up impressive new vistas.
- Physical issues and serious diseases almost always have emotional causes (my opinion). Medicine and most other methods tend to ignore them and thus, by contrast, the Optimal EFT process stands out as a unique approach. As we have seen, these emotional causes can be reduced to Specific Events. Collapse the Specific Events with Optimal EFT and the physical issues often subside or disappear.
What is a Specific Event?
In order to be sure your event is specific enough, choose something with the following criteria:
- It is a short “movie” from the past, preferably as far back as childhood
- You are able to give it a title, like “the time when…”
- It was 1-3 minutes long at the time it happened
- It contains at least 1 emotional crescendo (limiting it to only 1 crescendo is preferred).
- It has a beginning, an end, a plot, and characters
How do you find Specific Events?
This is usually done with questions that take you back in time to previous experiences that are related to the current issue. There are no cookie cutter questions that work for all circumstances but it doesn't take a genius to start exploring. Here are some examples to give you the idea.
- When was the first time you felt unloved?
- Can you name a time when you felt rejected big time?
- Is there a major guilt experience we can discuss?
- What event in your past does this issue about ______ remind you of?
- What was your most fearful/abusive/traumatic experience?
- Was there an emotional event preceding the onset of your illness?
Guidelines for Using Specific Events
Most people have to be guided in this process. Otherwise, they are likely to come up with "Specific Events" that last for several hours or more. So to make sure you have an appropriate Specific Event of manageable length, use these features as guidelines:
- If this event was a movie, how long would it last? If it is anything more than a few minutes, please narrow it down to a one to three minute segment that includes the most important emotional crescendo(s) of the entire event. One common mistake is to choose an event that you could tell a friend in one to three minutes. For this purpose we need something that actually happened in one to three minutes at the time. For example, you might be able to tell a friend about a divorce in a few minutes, but you would have to gloss over a lot of the specific details. Look for the small segments of time that hold the most emotional impact for you.
- How many crescendos are there in this short movie? If the movie lasts only a few minutes, then there probably won’t be too many crescendos. However, it is usually best to limit the Specific Event to contain only one crescendo. If there are multiple crescendos then address them one at a time, starting with the most intense one. Often collapsing the most intense one with Optimal EFT allows the others to fade.
- If this movie had a title, what would it be? This question has two purposes: (1) it generates a short phrase to use with the Optimal EFT process and (2) it adds emphasis to the Specific Event, allowing you to distinguish it from other, related events.
- How long ago did it happen? Addressing an event from last week is certainly an option, but the Aspects of that event are likely to be broad issues of their own. It’s better to start as close to childhood or as close to the origination of the problem as you can get.
Tip - What if you can't remember a Specific Event?
Then make one up. This may sound frivolous at first but, in practice, it can be quite effective. This is because a made up event comes from within one's deepest emotional recesses and thus it can be embellished into an event that may be even more useful than a real one. I have done this many times with great success.
Tip - Specific Events vs. Specific Emotions
Ultimately, it is the emotions that emanate from the Specific Events that interest us. These are the causes behind the emotional, physical and performance issues that need collapsing. Some Optimal EFT'ers have misunderstood this and have chosen to go for Specific Emotions instead of Specific Events. Even though this is doing it backwards, it will likely provide some results because of the power of the Optimal EFT process. Even a misdirected arrow can still hit part of the target. However, it will often fall short of perfection for two reasons:
- The Specific Events are what cause the emotions we seek in the Optimal EFT process but the reverse is not true, i.e. the emotions do not cause the Specific Events. Thus to seek for emotions without identifying their fundamental causes (Specific Events) is an obvious error. The Specific Events are the centerpiece of quality Optimal EFT. To sidestep them leaves behind an opportunity for deeper work.
- There is no such thing as a specific emotion. We commonly use terms like fear, anger and grief as though they were specific items but, in fact, they are only generalized labels. Grief over the death of a loved one, for example, isn't just a form of sadness. If you look behind it you will often find things like the fear of being alone or guilt for what the griever did or did not do while the deceased was alive. I once sat down and made a list of 50 emotions and could easily define all of them in terms of fear e.g. hand washing OCD can be defined as the fear of germs, guilt can be defined as the fear of being found out, depression can be defined as the fear of being worthless ... and on it goes.
Specific Events are critically important factors for in-depth success with Optimal EFT. Working with them can take you straight to the source of the problem and provide a systematic way to resolve bigger issues, one piece at a time.
© Gary Craig
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