By Steve Wells
When you want to change a bad habit or problem behaviour with tapping, what can you do? Often we start out by tapping on the symptom itself, the thoughts and feeling(s) it causes us, and the consequences it causes in our life. So for example if you have a food craving you might tap on the craving itself, the guilt you feel over having the problem, how angry and upset at yourself this makes you, your weight problem, how this makes you feel, and so on. However this will not always shift the problem.
A more in-depth treatment will seek to treat the underlying meaning of the behavior, and our beliefs about it, since this is what we are 'attached' to, and which emotionally 'holds' (or hooks) us to this way of behaving. Ultimately, the attachments with the strongest emotional connections are the ones which are most influential.
One very powerful way to move forward is to identify and treat what I call the 'value connection'. This may be defined as the conclusion we reached at one time about the value of the behavior or pattern; the association we made that doing this behavior would lead us towards pleasure or away from pain. Or more directly, the conclusion we made at some time in the past when we were faced with a pleasure-pain moment.
This idea came from Colin Larcombe who reported on his success in treating his own alcoholic behavior on Gary Craig's EFT newsletter (See the original article here)
As Colin reported, when he thought about what he was wanting from his alcoholic behavior, he was able to identify not only the state he connected to it but also the fact that it wasn't really leading him to experience what he desired. Tapping on that connection produced the result that months of tapping on his symptoms and feelings had failed to treat. As he stated in that article (emphasis mine):
"I had this vision of what I wanted alcohol to achieve for me, for example being able to sit down with my wife, on the sofa, in front of the fire with a cold glass of white wine and chill out and relax. But it has NEVER EVER happened that way.
(and so I tapped on)
"Even though I have never been able to achieve the dream state I desire"
And that was it! The desire evaporated. .. I have not had a drink since, nor the desire."
In explaining his success, Colin states: "I spent so much time concentrating on the negatives and the side issues of alcohol, I didn't realize it was the "state" ness of desire that was the key all along""
When I first read this I realized that behind the desire for alcohol was really a simple attachment to what Colin had hoped the alcohol would do for him. As soon as he applied tapping to that, the problem was solved because the attachment to that state was shifted or released. (Note from Steve: Colin wrote 9 months later to say that despite the occasional 'pang' he had still not had a drink in all that time).
That attachment, the attachment to the state you are trying to achieve when you engage in the problem behavior, is what I am now calling the value connection. This is because it relates to a core value, a state you believe is important to have in your life. And because it relates to a core value, this is why the behavior can be difficult to shift; it has strong emotional roots.
So you have what you think the behavior will (or should) do for you, then you have the fact that it doesn't really do that in the way you desire. Try tapping on that, just like Colin did, and see what it does for you. I've used it with myself and a number of clients, with excellent results.
How to identify the value connection?
When working with other people you can sometimes see the connection they have made. Once, when working with a woman on her smoking addiction I asked her to pick up a cigarette and could see by the way she held it and brought it to her mouth that she had developed a connection of classiness to smoking. Her behavior was reminiscent of that of movie stars who were oh so sophisticated with a smoke in their mouth. As soon as we brought that association into the light, she was able to see things differently and we could effectively treat the false connection.
Another thing you can do is to ask. Some questions to ask:
'What value does this behavior provide you?' AND
'Where did you learn that this behavior had value / was important?' , AND
'Where did you first learn this had value?'
Another useful question is 'What is the emotional state or positive outcome you are seeking from this behavior?'
Then tap on the fact that the behavior either gives you and/or doesn't give you that feeling or outcome.
When seeking to identify and treat the value connection, the original value connection is often the best, however treating any of the value connections weakens the attachment of the associated negative belief(s) and therefore weakens the structure which is supporting the problem behavior.
Update from Steve:
In using my Intention-based Energy Process (IEP) in combination with tapping I've learned it is important to treat your attachments not only to past negative events and experiences, but also to treat your attachments to fantasies and projections about how life "should be". When you attach to a fantasy which differs to reality (which is what Colin did) then you are going to suffer, says Byron Katie. Now you can treat the suffering itself, which is what we often tend to do, but if you don't tap on the fantasy with its attached emotional state and release some of your attachment to that then you will continue to suffer.
How to do this: Simply identify a situation where you are wanting something to happen but it hasn't happened or isn't happening as in Colin's example. Then form this intention:
I release all my emotional attachments to the fantasy that...
You can tap and use IEP on the fantasy image and you can also tap and use IEP on the fantasy state that you have attached to the fantasy image, either will work.
This can be very important process heading into the 'holiday' season and Christmas, although it applies equally well to those who don't celebrate these traditions: There will likely be a tradition you DO celebrate where this applies. At this time of year many people have a projection in their mind about how events such as family dinners "should" proceed and about how everyone "should" act. Sadly, few families manage to pull this off, since everyone has a different idea about what should be happening anyway AND nobody can manage to measure up to the ideal. So suffering and conflict ensues.
When you release your emotional attachments to the fantasy of what "should" be happening you free yourself up to deal with things the way they are, and take best advantage of what is truly possible. Try it, you have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.