What fake steamship stories can tell us about personal development

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
– H. L. Mencken

Steam ship
Image courtesy of Enrique L

There is an amusing and inspiring steamship story that is often told in trainings or workshops, it goes something like this.

In the days of the old steamships a passenger liner broke down just before the entrance to New York harbour.

The ship was helpless, there was nothing the ship’s engineer or crew could do. The liner lay dead in the water unable to make any headway.

The captain radioed the harbour asking them to send their most skilful engineer to solve the problem.

The engineer rode a pilot-boat to the crippled liner, where the captain showed him to the engine room.

To the captain’s surprise the engineer just wandered about. He walked around the engine room, putting his hand on the miles of piping and his ear to junctions and valves. He looked into the boilers and over the towering engine.

By now the captain was beginning to get impatient. ‘When is this man actually going to DO something?’ he thought.

After half an hour of wandering around the engineer just scratched his chin, nodded to himself and asked for a hammer.

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The Enfolding – A Folk Tale Of Wounding And Healing

One of the problems of describing therapeutic techniques is that they can seem dry and remote. It occurred to me that writing a folk tale would be a good way to talk about the Identity Healing process in a way that spoke to the metaphorical part of ourselves that delights in a story. This tale is one way of telling you about it without talking about it. I hope you enjoy the story and see its potential. – Andy

Holding hands
Image courtesy of Aaron Gilson

In a land far away and long ago there lies a village remote and beautiful.

A scattering of rough stone houses and tangled gardens surrounded by high hills and deep forest.

The villagers lived the simple lives of villagers everywhere.

They worked, slept, laughed, cried, were born and gave birth, grew up, grew old and died in all the ancient and familiar rhythms of the world.

To their occasional visitors they looked the same as villagers everywhere and anywhere.

To those visitors who stayed a while they seemed happier than villagers ought to be.

In spite of the hard work in the daily and yearly struggle for survival these villagers had found a way to be contented with themselves.

The villagers had an easiness of being. A deep contentment with themselves and the world. And although they had all the familiar vexations in their lives, they lived them to the full without struggle.

Children growing here suffered all the usual knocks and blows of life.

If you saw such a moment in a child’s life here you would see all the things you would expect to see anywhere. The shock, hurt, anger or fear would run through their bodies and over their faces.

What you wouldn’t see, what you couldn’t see, if you were not from this village, is the secret way each child protected themselves from their pain.

If you could see it you might doubt your eyes.

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Identity Healing – Are Your Younger Selves Suffering?

Younger self
Image courtesy of Emily

If you look at your passport or your driving license you can see your name and your photo. Even if the photo is bad you can tell that it is you.

You appear to be just one person. But is that true?

On the outside you may project an image of calm, capability, or one of the other ways we like to present ourselves to the world. Behind the eyes and beneath the skin it can be a different story.

Have you ever said or heard someone else say?

  • I am not good enough
  • There is something wrong with me
  • I can’t forgive myself
  • Nobody loves me
  • I hate myself

Each of these statements is about an ‘I’,’me’ or ‘myself’. They speak about our identity, who we are.

Beneath what we hope are our socially acceptable exteriors there may be parts of ourselves that are not happy.

These parts: the ‘I’ in ‘I’m not good enough’, the ‘me’ in ‘Nobody loves me’ and the ‘I’ and ‘myself’ in ‘I hate myself’ are sometimes known as sub-personalities. Sub-personalities are parts of our inner selves that step up and wear the mask of our outer selves.

These parts of ourselves are usually suffering.

The ‘I’ in I’m not good enough is not having a good time.

The ‘me’ in ‘Nobody loves me’ feels distress.

The ‘I’ and ‘myself’ in ‘I hate myself’ are both feeling stressed.

These parts of ourselves are often formed in childhood at times of stress. They carry what they felt, thought and did at that time through life in a capsule of that stress and distress.

You may also remember times when it felt as if a younger part of yourself took control of your adult self. It’s as if you had been hijacked by a terrified child or angry teenager. If you’ve had this experience you have felt the presence of a sub-personality.

It’s bad enough that we can carry these pockets of stress and distress within ourselves, but it gets worse.

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How to use EFT to get beyond “I’m right and you’re wrong”

I'm right and you're wrong
Image courtesy of jon collier

When I was a teenager I always wanted to be right and for everyone to know that I was right.

I would argue my point of view ‘seven ways till Sunday’ to prove that I was right and even if it didn’t start as an argument it frequently became one.

Now when I look back on it I see an anxious teenager desperate to be taken seriously. Back then, I put a lot of effort into what must have been very tiresome for everyone I was attempting to prove ‘wrong’.

I like to think that I am over that teenage phase but from time to time I seem to find myself needing to be right.

Of course if you need to be right the other person needs to be wrong, you can’t both be right.

If you have ever been treated as the person who is wrong then you’ll know that it’s not a fun position to be in. Your own needs to be heard and respected can be pushed to one side.

If I need to be right then it can cause a lot of stress and lead to conflict. From the point of view of the person who thinks they are right:

  • If I am right then the other person is wrong.
  • If they disagree with my point of view then I need to defend it, to make stronger arguments, speak more forcefully to convince them.
  • If they still disagree then their point of view becomes an assault on me and what I hold dear. The other person is not only wrong they are hostile towards me. They are obviously both stupid and bad and must be defeated.

For the other person, the one who is ‘in the wrong’ it’s even worse. They might think like this:

  • There they go again, they only think that they are right, but I know that they are wrong and that I am right!
  • When I tell them what they think is the ‘wrong’ side of the story they get defensive, arguing their side more loudly and more forcibly. They are trying to bully me into agreeing with them, but, in fact, I am right and they are wrong (not that they would ever admit it).
  • They can’t handle the truth, every attempt I make to show them that I am right, and they are wrong, makes them more aggressive and intransigent. They are obviously both stupid and bad and must be defeated.

On a personal level this kind of thing is not good for our relationships. On a political and geopolitical scale this escalation can have terrible consequences.

Even though I thought I’d mostly given up the “I need to be right” attitude, it still crops up from time to time (I have it on good authority that it is because I am a man!). It’s depressing and distressing to find how easily I can slip into the destructive ping-pong game of I’m right and you’re wrong.

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Training – Special Offer Just For ‘Tappers’ Who Want To Heal The ‘Inner Child’

Identity Healing
Image courtesy of Divya Vibha Sharma

As you may know I’ve been developing a collection of processes I call Identity Healing since 2010 as a way of working with entrenched patterns of emotion and behaviour that are often installed during childhood.

These patterns are like younger versions of ourselves that come to the fore in stressful situations. If you’ve been in a challenging situation and felt as if you were a helpless child again then you know what this is like.

These younger parts of ourselves, sometimes called sub-personalities, usually formed in stressful childhood situations, are responsible for a lot of our unresourceful emotional responses and patterns of behaviour, even when we are trying hard to be a capable adult.

In standard EFT you would work with these patterns by looking for the memories of when they were formed, then neutralising them with tapping.

Since these patterns are often formed at a very early age it can be difficult to identify and process the relevant memories.

The Identity Healing processes sidestep that problem by working directly with the sub-personality that is trapped in this pattern. You don’t need to identify or work with the memories, everything that needs soothing and changing is easily available and amenable to tapping.

When I started working on these processes I was cautiously hopeful that they would be effective for healing these kind of hard to work with issues, they turned out to be much more powerful and helpful than I had imagined.

I have used this process with many clients to resolve chronic patterns of thought / feeling and behaviour that I would have found difficult to process using standard EFT approaches.

My clients have found that what used to be almost intolerably difficult situations and responses have changed completely. Katie’s story is a short but representative example of someone shifting from a ‘frightened child state’ to become a more resourceful adult.

It’s taken a long time for me to be confident enough about the effectiveness and safety of the process to want to train other people in the process.

The first training was last September, the next is in less than two weeks in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The few EFT Practitioners (so far) that I have trained in this method have also reported dramatic shifts in their clients

“I have found Andy Hunt’s training in Identity Healing a highly valuable, inspiring and enlightening learning experience, delivered by Andy with integrity, compassion, wisdom and gentle humour.

Having used this process with many clients since completing the course a few weeks ago, I am very impressed with the simplicity, elegance and effectiveness of Identity Healing approach, even with the most complex and challenging issues. I saw some surprising and significant shifts for a number of people with whom we had achieved only limited progress in previous weeks and months using psychotherapy, classic EFT, EMDR and Matrix Reimprinting.

I found Identity Healing especially useful with clients who are burdened by shame and guilt and are struggling to feel any compassion for themselves, and for those in a chronic state of self-sabotage or stuckness.”

Masha Bennett, Psychotherapist

Naturally, I want to get this process out into the world where it can do some good, but if you’ve ever tried to get something new off the ground that’s a challenge.

So far, few people have heard of it or experienced it and they only have my word for it that it’s worth using. So it can be a bit of a challenge filling training places at the start of a process’s career.

Which brings me to the purpose of this email.

There are still some places available on the next Identity Healing training on February 7th & 8th in Newcastle upon Tyne and I’d like fill the available places to give the best experience possible to the trainees and to have more good people out in the world using these techniques for themselves and their clients.

So if you are interested in learning this powerful tapping technique and since you are a reader of my newsletter I’d like to offer you a special deal.

If you sign up for the training using this link you can sign up and bring a friend for free (which is equivalent to £85 each for a full weekend’s training).

Remember this is an advanced and experiential training so both of you must have attended an EFT Level 2 training or above.

I realise this is very short notice and you may have to travel to Newcastle upon Tyne, but I will do what I can to facilitate your travel, training and accommodation.

Thanks for taking the time to read this far, if this training is the right thing for you I look forward to seeing you there.

Use this contact form if you need any more information.


Compassionate EFT

Image courtesy of Kirsten Stiles
Image courtesy of Kirsten Stiles

In every painful situation, there are two sorts of suffering.

The pain of the circumstances and our resistance to the situation (including our lack of compassion to ourselves).

The pain of the situation is easy to understand.

Our grief, disappointment, anger, guilt, shame and all those other challenging emotions are easy to see and feel.

However, our resistance to the situation and lack of compassion for ourselves can be harder to see, although their effects are just as debilitating.

Although EFT/Tapping makes good use of our body and mind’s natural abilities to quickly soothe painful emotional states, we can easily be caught up in self-criticism and judgement of ourselves for having the problem in the first place. We may be so used to this self-criticism that we barely notice it.

When we are with someone else who is suffering we may feel very accepting and compassionate of them and their distress and have a strong wish to ease their pain.

However, when we have a problem or experience some distress, we might not feel quite so accepting or compassionate of ourselves as we do of others.

Instead of being kind to ourselves we might think that it is wrong for us to have this problem. We might believe that being in this situation proves that we are bad, pathetic or unacceptable as a human being.

Not only do we suffer the problem we can even feel bad about feeling bad: we are a problem having a problem.

Falling off a bike can hurt in more ways than one

Recently I saw a sad demonstration of how this lack of self-compassion starts. When I was walking the dog one afternoon I saw a young schoolgirl fall off her bike, she landed in a heap, stood up and started to cry.

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