Would you rather have your problems right in your face or at a more manageable distance?
Most people would prefer to have room to breathe and think about their difficulties.
When we think, or talk, about the challenges in our lives we tend to focus on the story of the problem. We get sucked in to the difficulty caught in the swirl of thoughts and feelings about the problem.
But there are two words that can make the difference between being gripped by our problem or being able to hold it at arm’s length.
These words are so familiar that you probably never even notice them.
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.
If you burnt the toast this morning as you were making breakfast you could say that you blamed yourself for the mistake.
It’s not such a bad mistake, you would probably get over it by lunch time.
But, what if you always blamed yourself for everything.
That would be a very different experience: you might give yourself a hard time about how stupid you are and how you mess everything up. You might find it quite difficult to be happy.
People who are being blamed for things don’t usually enjoy the experience.
It gets worse. At least if you are blamed for something by someone else you could get away from them for a bit of peace and quiet, but if you are blaming yourself then it’s difficult to escape from it.
A client of mine, let’s call him Chris, had a strong tendency to blame himself.
When I had him say out loud “I blame myself” it registered 9 out of 10 as a true statement.
If you wanted to take care of this issue using standard EFT you might start digging around in your client’s past to find the experiences that lead to the formation of this self-critical attitude. That might take a lot of digging and tapping, but there are other ways to work with these issues, one of them is what I call Identity Reconciliation which is a part of Identity Healing.
Some people feel like they are making no progress in their therapy or self-development.
Whatever they do, things seem to stay just as bad as before. It can be both discouraging and frustrating, some people even give up trying.
To understand one of the reasons for making no progress (and some ideas to help get unstuck) we need to take an imaginary trip to the seaside in Victorian England.
In the late 19th century the north of England was strewn with large industrial towns with smoking chimneys, dank factories, stinking rivers, polluted air and blackened buildings.
During the factory holidays the workforce and their families would leave the factory towns and travel to the seaside towns of Blackpool or Scarborough to enjoy the novelty of sun, sea and fresh air.
Let’s imagine two such travellers leaving the grimy city for a well deserved visit to the seaside: Miss Change and Miss Same have known each other for years. They grew up in the city, although they are used to the stink and grime, they both want to get away from it, if only for a little while.
Miss Change and Miss Same although they have lots in common do have a difference in temperament that makes going on the same holiday a very different experience.