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Creating Your Own Custom-Designed Classic EFT Setup Phrases

by John Freedom

Creating Your Own Custom-Designed Classic EFT Setup Phrases

The Setup Phrase is often an under-valued  part of Classic EFT. Many of us have used (and taken for granted)  the generic setup phrase that says  “Even though I have this ________,  I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”   This does work  ---  much of the time ---  but not always.

In this article, John Freedom looks at using different, personal set-up phrases to help overcome blocks to healing.

Editor Note - July 2014: This article from 2010 refers to Gary Craig's Classic EFT rather than Silvia Hartmann's Energy EFT which is now recommended by the AMT

The Setup is intended to be the built-in antidote for psychological reversal (PR).   A psychological reversal is an objection to healing.  It is a form of subtle self-sabotage, and includes any limiting beliefs or considerations a person is holding, that prevents them from healing and changing now.   Often this takes the form of implicit self-hatred.   The person may believe, consciously or unconsciously, “Because I have this issue,  I am a bad person, and therefore unlovable.”   The generic Setup phrase confronts this possibility, acknowledges that “even though I have this issue,”  and antidotes the PR with “I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”

We often judge and ‘push’ ourselves, because we ‘want to be a better person,’ or think that ‘we deserve …….  (judgment, reprimands, etc).   Paradoxically, sometimes the more we judge and ‘push’ and ‘should’  ourselves, the more we get stuck.   But, as Carl Rogers noted, “when we can accept ourselves exactly as we are, we often begin to change spontaneously.”

However, there can be problems with the generic Setup phrase.   Some people balk at the idea (or even possibility!) of accepting or loving themselves.    I worked with one woman with MPD (multiple personality disorder); she objected, saying,  “But I don’t see myself as a ‘self’…….’    And then for others, self-acceptance is NOT the issue; and thus not the antidote.   There may be other forms of PR (lurking beneath the surface!)  that need antidoting.

PR can take many forms, and these have been cataloged by (among others) Fred Gallo, David Grudermeyer, and Asha Clinton. These include:

Possibility:  “I can’t get over this issue.”
Worthiness:  “I don’t deserve to get over this issue.”
Safety:  “It’s not safe for me to get over this issue.”
Secondary gain:  “I’m getting __________ from having this issue, and don’t want to lose it.”
Authority:   “My doctor says I will always have this issue.”
Identity:  “I can’t release this issue, because this issue is part of who I am.”

Gary Craig tends to be very creative with his Setups, and does a lot of re-framing. In my own work I have found it to be more effective, creative and FUN  to custom-design my own setup-phrases. Just as one of the keys to successful Classic EFT is to ‘chunk down’ and get very specific, so also designing a very SPECIFIC SETUP PHRASE, tailored to the client’s specific issue,  greatly enhances the effectiveness of the whole treatment.

A simple yet elegantly powerful way to design your own Setups is to use the following ‘template.’   I call this  THE PARTS SETUP,  and it has three parts.    It goes like this:

“Even though A PART OF ME   thinks that ………   ________________

The REST OF ME   KNOWS that ……… ___________________    and

I’m WILLING/CHOOSING   to…………._________________.”

After the first phrase, insert the limiting (usually false) belief, the objection to healing (PR).    After the second, insert a  POSITIVE TRUTHFUL FACT, which confronts and antidotes the limiting belief. What is more powerful than, and can easily overcome  a limiting belief?    A truthful, unlimiting fact!

After the third phrase, insert a POSITIVE ACTION  you are WILLING/CHOOSING to take.   CHOOSING  (following Dr. Pat Carrington’s model) is a powerful word; WILLING is more gentle.   

An example. I once had a student who believed that she ‘could not do anything right.’   This is NOT true, of course; but that was her belief.  And IF she cannot do ‘anything right,’ then of course, she cannot do Classic EFT right! This limiting belief will sabotage her results.

So I had her custom-design her Setup phrases like this:

“Even though A PART OF ME  thinks that ‘I can’t do anything right,’
THE REST OF ME KNOWS that  I do some things very well   ((POSITIVE TRUTHFUL FACT)), and
I’M WILLING to love and accept myself,  (POSITIVE ACTION), whether I do things well, or not.”

Even though A PART OF ME THINKS   that  ‘I can’t do anything right,’
THE REST OF ME KNOWS  that  I’ve held a responsible job for many years,  and
I’M CHOOSING to focus on what I do well, rather than on what I don’t.”

“Even though A PART OF ME THINKS that  ‘I can’t do anything right,’
THE REST OF ME KNOWS that  ‘I am intelligent, competent and capable,  and
I’M WILLING  to tap on myself, and get the results I want.”

I will have my clients repeat the Setup three or four times, using the same PR/objection but with different ‘antidotes’ and choices in the 2nd & 3rd phrases.   I find that a well-designed Setup, followed by tapping, is like a ‘one-two punch’ that will effectively knock out many issues easily.   By openly acknowledging, confronting and disabling the specific PR, the ‘presenting issue’ is then tapped away much more easily.  Often the SUD (Subjective Units of Distress)  level will decrease by 50% or more, just by using this Setup alone. It is also very useful in antidoting ‘mini PR,’ where the SUD (intensity) level goes down only 2-3 points, and then plateaus there.   

The Parts Setup is one of several Setup Variations.  Part of Mastering the Art of Classic EFT involves being able to improvise, be creative, and create your own Setup phrases on the spot, as needed.   Feel free to play, improvise, and have fun with this!

John Freedom, CEHP, is a Master Practitioner of  NLP and an Classic EFT practitioner and trainer, based in Tucson, AZ  He serves as chairman of the research committee for ACEP, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (see   He may be contacted at 520-241-5124,



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Posted Apr 14, 2010 by John Freedom More Information ->
John Freedom
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