Week 6: Secondary Gain

We sometimes have good reasons for keeping our diseases, detrimental behaviors, and negative thoughts in place. This week introduces the concept of secondary gain, that is, the positive benefits we get from these negative occurrences in our lives. In many cases, we are not aware of the secondary gains that are contributing to us not getting better.

EFT researcher Gunilla Brattberg, MD, has developed strategies for those living with the pain and fatigue that characterizes such illnesses as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. One of the strategies is to address the issue of victimhood, which is an example of secondary gain. “I suffer, therefore I am.” Being a victim gives you a certain status, earning you much attention. If you got well, you might lose that attention. But viewing yourself as a victim of your symptoms makes it more difficult to achieve quality of life, says Dr. Brattberg. When you identify as a victim, you have abdicated your responsibility as a conscious person with control over your life.

Other examples of secondary gain in the case of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue might be the constant companionship of caregivers, help from friends and family, disability compensation, or the ability to keep denying the original cause of the pain.

Your subconscious mind feels more secure in the disadvantaged state than in going for improvement. So while your conscious mind might be saying, “I sincerely want to get over this problem,” your subconscious screams, “No, I don’t!” This is why we tap on the Karate Chop point first before proceeding with the EFT tapping round. Saying the Setup Statement (such as “Even though part of me doesn’t want to get over this problem, I deeply and completely accept myself, “or”Even though I am afraid of the changes that getting well will bring, I deeply and completely accept myself”) while tapping the Karate Chop point clears any obstacles to healing that may be present.

In addition to a PDF of the next chapter of my book EFT for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue for you to read, at the bottom of this page you’ll find an audio program on tapping for secondary gain. Please tap along with me as you address this difficult issue. You’ll be encouraged by the bonus audio featuring a session with Fibroclear participant Mary, who uncovers some surprising secondary gains from being sick.

EFT and Secondary Gain


Asking yourself a series of questions about the benefits of being sick and possible detriments of being well can help you determine whether secondary gain is present in your case. A strong emotional reaction to any of the questions is a clue that secondary gain might be a problem for you.

Secondary gain can actually be broken down into specific events, just like other issues. The process is more difficult, however, because the problem is usually stated globally or generally (e.g., “I feel safe being sick”). But if you keep asking yourself “Why?” or “What’s behind that?”you are likely to find some specific events to address with EFT.

This Week’s EFT Success Story


Here, Salome Hancock tells how she got down to the roots of her illness and removed obstacles to her healing:

I have had CFIDS (chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome) for 12 years, and it is a most confounding and disabling disease. At my worst, I stayed in bed and couldn’t tolerate light or activity, only accomplishing the most basic maintenance. Going out and seeing people was impossible.

I began using EFT more than a year ago and tap almost every day. At first I used it on specific physical symptoms and experienced relief, which greatly encouraged me to continue. I have been absolutely amazed how much EFT helps with my many CFIDS symptoms. I could list a pageful of physical symptoms that I cycle through. Time and again, EFT diminished my symptoms (nausea, pain, foggy brain, aches, crash from overexertion, reaction to being out in sun and wind, skin reactions, plus many more).

As I experienced how EFT helped and gained confidence in it, I started taking it deeper. I worked with visualization and metaphor, which seemed to get me closer to the roots of my illness. While tapping, I pictured obstacles to healing being removed and the energy flowing freely around my system. I “sent” the healing forces on search missions to find broken parts from the distant past and from the present. I went back to painful things that happened to me sources of grief, rage, unfairness and concentrated energies on repairing and bringing all parts of my being into alignment to support my progress back to health. I expressed confidence that problems found were being worked on.

I am not cured, but I am better able to function, have more sustained energy, and my brain is working better. I’ve turned around the atrophy that was creeping over me. I am exercising now, after having concluded with absolute conviction that exercise was out of the question for me ever again. I opened myself up to its possibility with perseverance and the help of EFT. I’m gaining strength; I can see and feel it. I am in an exciting process of discovery now and feel hopeful that I can get better, and will keep getting better.

Like Salome, you can use EFT to remove obstacles to your healing. Perhaps we should all take a tip from her and look at the exploration of the roots of our illness and what is stopping us from getting well as “an exciting process of discovery”!

Using EFT to Address Secondary Gain


If you suspect secondary gain, ask yourself:

What benefits do I receive from my problem?

Does keeping the problem feel safe?

Does releasing it feel dangerous?

Does keeping the problem generate sympathy from others that I won’t receive if I release the problem?

Does keeping the problem allow me to avoid unpleasant situations?

Does keeping the problem give me financial rewards that I won’t receive without it?

Do I feel I don’t deserve to get over the problem?

Do I fear that if I get better, something bad will happen?

Your answers will tell you what you need to tap on first. Focus on the question that raised the strongest emotional reaction in you. Rephrase it as a statement, such as “I get ____ from being ill,” or “Staying sick feels safe,” or “Getting better feels dangerous, or “If I get better, something bad will happen.”

Next ask yourself “Why?” or “What’s behind that?” If you get a specific event that is connected to that belief or feeling, record it below. If you do not get a specific event right away, keep asking the same question. A specific event will likely emerge as you hone in on what really is behind your belief or feeling. If you don’t get a specific event, don’t worry. You can tap on the statement you phrased above. Make your statement as specific as possible.

What was your memory or statement? Write it (be brief) in the space below:


Before you start tapping, take a moment to assess your feelings as you remember this event. Use the 0 to 10 SUD scale. How strong is your emotional reaction to the memory right now. Give it a number, and type that number in the scale below.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Also, identify a place in your body where you feel that emotion most strongly. It might be your forehead, your shoulders, or your heart. Write down the location in your body of this strong emotion:


So far, so good! Here’s your Setup Statement:


“Even though (name the problem), I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Say this three times while tapping on the Karate Chop point on the side of your hand.


Now look at the illustration showing EFT’s 12 acupoints, and tap lightly 7 to 10 times with two fingertips on each point. While tapping, focus on the problem.


A Second Helping of EFT


Now let’s do EFT again, but with a slightly different Setup Statement. Most people experience a reduction in the intensity of the problem, so we’ll modify the Setup Statement accordingly.

“Even though I still have some strong feelings about (name the problem), I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Say this three times while tapping on the side of your hand.


Now tap lightly 7 to 10 times with two fingertips on each point. While tapping, stay focused on your problem.


If you’re at a low number for your original incident, move on to another one. Pick another with a similar emotional signature, type a description into the box above, and tap till that one’s at a low SUD level too.

A Final Round of EFT


You might still have some remaining SUD intensity, so for good measure, let’s try EFT again.

“Even though I still have some remaining feelings about (name the problem), I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Say this three times while tapping on the side of your hand.


Now tap lightly 7 to 10 times with two fingertips on each point. While tapping, stay focused on your problem.


Measuring Your Results


Think about the problem again, and tune in to your (body part). Using the same scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being no emotional intensity, and 10 being the highest possible, click the button below that represents your SUD number:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 or 10

Congratulations! You wrote down your first number a few minutes ago. Your level of emotional intensity just went down by (Divide your second number by your first number, then multiply your answer x 100) ___ percent.

Looking for Secondary Gains


This week, continue asking yourself questions to identify possible secondary gains and use the above procedure to address them as you uncover them.

Each evening, before you go to sleep, think about any upsetting incidents that occurred during the day, and tap them away. When you wake up, tap through the points three or four times before you even start your day. This will help balance your energy, and give you more resilience to face the day ahead.


  • Fear of Public Speaking
  • Hospitalization at Age 5


Secondary Gain

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Bonus Audio 5: Mary: Secondary Gain & Future Insight

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This Week’s Assignments



  • Do EFT whenever you uncover a secondary gain, using the instructions above.
  • Do EFT for 10 minutes when you wake up, and before you go to sleep.
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