EFT for Self Acceptance: Part 2

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.

Carl Rogers

How does lack of self acceptance show itself? Tara Brach author, therapist and promoter of Radical Acceptance lists the following strategies that we use to compensate for a lack of self acceptance

  • We embark on one self-improvement project after another. Striving to meet standards of health, career, psychological and relationship wellbeing. All worth while pursuits unless driven by a underlying feeling of ‘not good enough’.
  • Holding back and playing safe. Avoiding risky situations, new careers, relationships and experiences.
  • Withdrawing from our experience of the present moment. Pulling away from experience by telling ourselves stories of what happened and why it happened rather than being with experience as it is.
  • We keep busy. Filling our time with activity at work and at home so we don’t have to be with the discomfort of self-aversion.
  • Becoming our own worst critics. Running a constant condemnatory commentary in our minds. Reminding ourselves of our flaws and how everyone else is doing so much better than we are.
  • Focussing on other peoples faults. Dwelling on other peoples faults and failures stops us from dwelling on our own. It also allows us to project our deficiencies out onto other people.

I recognise that I’ve used several of these strategies in the past. Imagine for a moment living life without having to use those strategies, being deeply comfortable in your own skin. Sound good?

How do we make a start? If you recognise these qualities in yourself there’s a strong possiblity that they have been ground in over many years.

I used to think that if I could just get the one limiting belief/memory sorted out then I would be completely fixed in a ‘Road to Damascus’ experience. Now I suspect its going to take a lot of patient disentangling. Be prepared for a lot of disentangling approaches in this series of articles.

I decided to start with a global approach to address some of the beliefs that I may have had about self acceptance and whether it is right for me.

One way of looking at this is that I was pursuing the psychological reversals that would stop me adopting self acceptance. What limiting beliefs stood between me and self acceptance?

I broke the reversals into the following categories

  • Do I want to accept myself?
  • Is is possible for me to accept myself?
  • Am I capable of accepting myself.?
  • Do I deserve to accept myself?
  • Should I accept myself?

I used the following format for assessing and exploring these beliefs

First I just said out loud the belief statement and scaled it from 0 (false) to 10 (true).

I don’t want to accept myself (score)

Then I phrased it as a sentence completion, for example:

I don’t want to accept myself because …

I’ll get too big for my boots (score)

Completing the sentence with whatever came to mind. Each statement becomes a tappable issue. If it’s another belief you can tap directly on it. If it’s a memory then you can use the movie technique to neutralise it.

Here’s the full list. Try these out yourself, adopt an attitude of curiosity. Remember there really is nothing wrong with you.

  • I don’t want to accept myself __
    because …
  • It’s not possible for me to accept myself __
    because …
  • I can’t accept myself __
    because …
  • I don’t deserve to accept myself __
    because …
  • I shouldn’t accept myself __
    because …

Persistent tapping on these issues should start to soften the idea that non-acceptance is our natural state.

If you live in the Newcastle area you might be interested to know that the next two meetings of the EFT Café will be exploring these approaches to boosting self acceptance.

Upcoming EFT Courses

I’m running a couple of accredited EFT training courses in Newcastle in the next few months.

EFT Level 1On March 1st there will be an EFT Level 1 training at St Oswald’s Hospice. This is the introductory level of EFT training and equips you with the skills to use EFT to work on your own issues and those of your family and friends. It’s a hands-on training with lots of supervised practice, you’ll soon be using EFT for yourself, and you may be surprised at just how quick, effective and painless it can be.

EFT Level 2 SealOn April 5th & 12th there will be an EFT Level 2 training also at St Oswald’s Hospice. This level gives you the skills to work with clients, it is intended for those in the helping professions who wish to add this extremely effective method to their toolkit. You will learn more sophisticated approaches for dealing with trauma, anxiety, cravings, physical symptoms and more.

I’m also running the once a month 3 hour Beginner’s EFT courses.

EFT for Self Acceptance: Part 1

To be in harmony with the oneness of things is to be without anxiety about imperfection.

Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253)

I deeply and completely accept myself is a part of the standard EFT set up statement a little incantation with tapping that prepares the way for working on the presenting problem whatever it may be.

Many of my clients have a problem with that phrase, apart from the suspicion amongst some British people that it is excessively Californian, they feel a little uncomfortable saying it, almost as if saying I’m deeply and completely acceptable is a rather indecent.

I suspect that most of us have trouble with fully accepting ourselves just as we are. In fact, vast swathes of the economy are setup on the premise that if we buy this furniture, use this cosmetic, go on this diet, etc, that we will become OK. Preying on self-dissatisfaction seems to be a good way to make money.

Self dissatisfaction or self hate (if taken to the extreme) is quite pervasive in our culture. A few years ago the Dalai Lama met with psychologists and neuroscientists to discuss the overlap between science and Buddhist thought about our inner life.

“What do you think about self-hatred?” I asked when it was my turn to bring up an issue for discussion. I was eager to get directly to the suffering I had seen so often in my students, a suffering I was familiar with myself. The room went quiet as all of us awaited the answer of the Dalai Lama, revered leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Looking startled, he turned to his translator and asked pointedly in Tibetan again and again for an explanation. Finally, turning back to me, the Dalai Lama tilted his head, his eyes narrowed in confusion. “Self-hatred?” he repeated in English. “What is that?”

Sharon Salzberg

The thought that something is wrong with me is a pervasive kind of contemporary suffering and a driving force behind many problem behaviours.The EFT setup statement is designed to work away at our self-aversion with respect to the problem whatever it might be, by bringing a level of self acceptance to the issue.

An email newsletter from Steve Wells of EFT Down Under reminded me of this issue and sent me back to his original series of articles regarding self acceptance and his 30 day self-acceptance project. This inspired me to start working on this issue in my own life. These articles will cover some of the things I’ve tried out along the way.

By way of a starting exercise you might like to try saying out loud each of these statements and getting a sense of how true they feel on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 is totally false, 10 is totally true).

  • I deeply and completely accept myself.
  • I can’t accept myself
  • I shouldn’t accept myself.
  • There’s something wrong with me.
  • I am ashamed of myself

If the first one scores 10 out of 10 and the rest are score 0 then you probably don’t need to read this series of articles. When I tried the ‘I deeply and completely accept myself’ test I scored 1!

This came as more than a bit of a shock to me, after all I’ve been using this phrase consistently for the last 4 years. If it’s something similar for you I hope these articles will help change that for you.

A view from the other side

Gretchen Berland began a project to videotape the experiences of life in a wheelchair from the perspective of being in the wheelchair. She writes in The New England Journal of Medicine.

They began by filming processes related to activities of daily life — buttoning a shirt with an antique bootlace hook, using a grabber to retrieve a bottle cap from the floor. Wallengren’s footage of the preparation of his breakfast drink puts the viewer in his wheelchair; we see his hand falter as he lifts the milk from refrigerator to counter. The participants filmed events related to their passions: basketball, camping, disability rights, music. They filmed their loved ones. Each used the camera as a confidant; sitting alone in his bathroom, Wallengren talks about his progressive symptoms and the choices he faces.

When I first heard about this video I thought it might be a useful way of exemplifying some NLP principles including rapport and second position. When I watched them I got much more than I bargained for.

The first segment filmed in a doctor’s office is an excellent demonstration of how not to do rapport with a patient. In the second segment the same patient speaks to the camera about what is on his mind, perhaps the kind of thing that the doctor might have heard had he connected with him.

One of the segments is just a wheelchair’s eye view of someone making breakfast. As someone who has never been in a wheelchair it gives a small insight into just what a laborious task something I take for so much granted can become.

Finally in a segment that beggars belief we watch someone stuck in a stalled wheelchair just 10 feet from her door. As Berland says:

Moments of extraordinary frustration were also recorded, a scene captured by Elman being a striking example. After 20 years of living with multiple sclerosis, Elman required a power wheelchair. One afternoon, her regular public-transportation service picked her up from an event, and during the ride home, her wheelchair stalled inside the van. Although it’s officially against the rules, most riders say that a driver will sometimes bring them into their homes. That day, however, Elman wasn’t so lucky. The driver parked her 10 ft from her front door, where she stayed and waited. But she had brought the video camera. The first time I screened this tape, I was horrified. I watched Elman try to call for help on a cell phone that had no signal. I watched her wait for a car to drive by, hoping that someone would stop and help. I watched as the afternoon light faded in the background.

You can read the full article and watch the video here: The View from the Other Side — Patients, Doctors, and the Power of a Camera (scroll down to the bottom of the article for the video link).

Myths about trauma

Bill O’Hanlon therapist, trainer and prolific author has started a series of YouTube videos about recovery from trauma and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). These videos have been prompted by the return of traumatised US soldiers from Iraq although the principles will fit for other traumatic experiences.

The first in the series challenges four common myths and misconceptions about trauma and PTSD

  1. Everyone who has a severe trauma develops PTSD.
  2. If you develop PTSD you have to have therapy to get over it.
  3. You’ll never get over PTSD once you develop it.
  4. The only effects of trauma are negative.

You can find out more about his approach to trauma at www.getovertrauma.com

I’ve been lucky enough to attend some of Bill O’Hanlon’s trainings in the UK and I highly recommend him as someone who knows his stuff and walks his talk. I’m looking forward to other videos in this series.

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