Working around Hardwired Cultural Beliefs with Geo-Specific EFT

Geo-Specific EFT (also known as Cross-Cultural Applied EFT) includes cross-cultural variables that influence individual behavior in EFT sessions. It aims at making us more mindful of the cultural context of the problems. Instead of using the default setup phrases and other widely used variations, phrases that are compatible with the native language, culture and religious beliefs of an individual are used in this approach.

Limiting Hardwired Beliefs and how to transform them

When we work on transforming limiting hardwired beliefs, initially working around these beliefs is more gentle and effective than directly addressing them. Directly addressing the hardwired beliefs can generate a lot of internal resistance as well as tendency to give up on EFT. Hardwired beliefs, especially the ones mired in cultural and religious context are resistant to transformation. Therefore it is important that we work ‘around’ these beliefs rather than begin by working ‘on’ them, until the person is ready to change them. We also have a reservoir of healthy cultural beliefs that can be relied upon to transform these unhealthy beliefs.

Beliefs form at a very early age. For example, a child who has been criticized and punished for every small mistake that he/she makes, may grow up thinking that God is critical and punishing like his/her parents (a hardwired cultural belief). A child’s relationship with his parent can be carried forward to God. If the formative years of a child have been spent in excessively pleasing his/her parents and avoiding punishment, he/she is most likely to maintain the same relationship with his/her parents and God when he/she grows up. As an adult he/she may have trouble with self trust and self acceptance. He/she will also have difficulty in using the EFT phrases such as “I love and accept myself”, “I choose to change this belief”, “I release and let go” etc. These may not work for them.

On the other hand children who receive love and support in their growing up years, usually do not have trouble in self-acceptance and self-compassion.

Internal resistances

I have outlined some internal resistances based on an individual’s hardwired cultural beliefs that make it difficult to work with the default setup phrase and other commonly used phrases. I have given a few examples of how to work around them with the help of healthy cultural beliefs.

1. Difficulty with Self-Acceptance: I have found, while working with clients from different nationalities, that in many languages there is no exact translation for words like ”love” and “accept”. Especially in the context of oneself, self love and acceptance may not be looked upon favorably in some cultures. People may also develop limiting beliefs about themselves due to their life experiences. In such cases, using phrases consistent with the healthy cultural beliefs of the client will work better. My client was very uncomfortable with the default setup phrase, “I love and accept myself.” Hence, keeping with his religious beliefs, we used “God accepts me the way I am.”

2. Resistance to Self-Appreciation: One of my clients said that “Everything good comes from God”. I asked him, “Where does the bad come from?” He replied, “Himself.” He was criticized a lot in his growing up years and there was a lot of hidden guilt as well. He also felt that he could not appreciate any good things that he had done since he had no right to. He felt that, “You cannot take credit for the good things as they come from God”. Due to his troubled childhood, it was very difficult for him to accept himself. We used another phrase, “I thank God for helping me and for all the good things happening through me and for me.”

3. Difficulty with Self-Compassion: My client felt that she did not deserve to be compassionate towards herself. We used the phrase – “God would want me to be compassionate towards myself” and this was very helpful in the process of dissolving her limiting self-beliefs.

4. Resistance to Self-Forgiveness: People often have difficulty in forgiving themselves. They believe that they deserve to be punished. This can happen especially if they were raised in an environment where even a small mistake was unforgivable, intolerable and implied that “they were not good enough”. Many a times, this is tied with their beliefs about God. They may think that God wants them to pay for their mistakes. Here, using the phrase, “I deserve God‘s forgiveness” will help.

The predominant feelings that people hold within themselves throughout their childhood affect the development and perpetuation of issues. In EFT, we tackle all the specific events thoroughly from childhood that may have led to these beliefs of being undeserved, unloved and unworthy. In addition to this, in Geo-Specific EFT, we also look at the cultural context in which these beliefs developed.


Very often it is not easy to critically examine one’s hardwired beliefs and transform them even if they are unhealthy. Therefore, it is important to let the clients utilize their healthy cultural frame of reference and connect it to the setup statements and reframes, while they try to outgrow their limiting beliefs. Directly targeting hardwired beliefs can feel like a personal attack to the client and may bring about more harm than good.

Geo-Specific EFT gives you an opportunity to work around these beliefs. It also gives you the sensitivity to find the tools that the client needs to heal, and not the ones you want to use for the healing.


This article is also available in Tamil. Please click the following link to download the article


About Puja

I am a Counseling Psychologist, Certified EFT Practitioner & Accredited EFT master Trainer of Trainers with EFTi. In my 15+ years of experience, I have effectively used EFT and Counseling to help clients heal their emotional and physical problems.
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2 Responses to Working around Hardwired Cultural Beliefs with Geo-Specific EFT

  1. Pingback: Become Comfortable with Your Religious Identity | Articles from

  2. Pingback: Become Comfortable with Your Religious Identity

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