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Q: Do I measure my SUD (subjective units of distress) level right now or what it was at the time of the event?

A: Now. You might remember a traumatic event like a car crash and recall that your SUD level was a 10 at the moment of impact. Perhaps that was seven years ago, and your SUD level when you now recall the event is a 5. Use your SUD level now, not your SUD level at the time of the event. The reason for this is that EFT works on your nervous system in present time. When you recall the crash and give it a SUD rating of 5, that indicates that the part of your neural network carrying the signals associated with the trauma is active. That’s the neural activity we target with EFT.

Some events may have been a 10 when they happened, but you’ve integrated them into your life story and they’re now 0, completely neutral. You’re at peace when you think of them, even though they were tragic at the time. Others may still be a 10 when you recall them decades later. Using your current SUD level allows you to focus on events that carry a lasting emotional charge.

This focus on the present level of distress, not the past level, also allows us to test the results we’re getting with EFT. If your SUD level around the accident goes down to a 1, you know you’ve discharged four fifths, or 80%, of the emotional intensity now associated with the accident. If instead you had tried to use your SUD level at the time of the accident, you’d then be comparing a SUD level in the distant past with one now, which would not give you an accurate barometer of progress.

–from The EFT Manual, by Dawson Church

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