The skillful use of the set-up phrase

Healing yourself, loving the world

The traditional set-up phrase of “Even though I have this issue, I deeply and completely love and accept myself” works wonders in most cases; however one of the creative ways to customize EFT is varying the language used during the set-up tapping.

Moving up the scale

Abraham-Hicks’ fans are very familiar with the concept of an Emotional Guidance Scale – a continuum of emotions ranging from despair to joy. A similar concept applies to the phrase used during the set-up tapping. We can vary the language so that we capture where we are now and move one step up on the scale.

The gradients of the scale might look like this:

  • Judgmental of self and closed to this issue being acceptable
  • Wanting to change but not trusting it’s possible
  • Wanting to be open to the idea that I’m okay
  • Becoming more open to the idea that this unintegrated part of me can be healed
  • Opening to accepting myself
  • Fully and deeply accepting myself.

In my use of the set-up phrase, there are three aspects:

  1. Finding language that fits at the beginning.
  2. Shifting language as you tap to introduce a cognitive shift.
  3. Using new language to test progress.

Language that fits

For some people, saying, “I love and accept myself” feels like complete nonsense.

If you are saying the set-up but feel no connection to it, try some alternative language.

Example of expanding language

Notice how I am gently shifting the energy from hate to credit.

  • Even though I have this issue, and I hate myself for it, I give myself permission to hate myself.
  • Even though I have this issue and it feels so engrained in my cells, I have no hope for changing, I give myself permission to have a tiny bit of hope.
  • Even though I have this issue, and I’ve had it for so long, who would I be without it?
  • Even though this issue has felt overwhelming to me, I give myself credit for tapping on it.

Notice how this language can move us from the first level of feeling judgmental to the next opening of acknowledging we want to change.

Historical use

Traditionally the set-up phrase was introduced as a way to correct psychological reversal(1), a concept included by Dr. Callahan in Thought Field Therapy (2).  However as of the spring of 2013 (3), Gary Craig no longer says that the set-up is needed for reversal; however, he is saying (4) it is used:

  • To identify the problem
  • To accept oneself despite the presence of the problem.


  1. The EFT Manual, downloaded from June 2010, p.20
  2. Reference needed.
  3. Northeastern Spring Gathering
  4. []

Photo by Luis Vidal

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Deborah Donndelinger

Deborah Donndelinger

I'm writing from Maryland, but my heart goes out all over the world. I'm cheering you on as you tackle the hard stuff, embrace the easy, and show up to help others.