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.
The first thing to notice is that I blame myself is a puzzling statement.
If I told you that Barney blames Fred, you probably imagine somebody called Barney blaming somebody called Fred. You might even be able to imagine their expressions, words and body language. Even if you didn’t know exactly what was going on you would be able to see Barney and Fred weren’t getting along.
If I told you that I blame myself who exactly am I talking about?
It’s confusing because I and myself are both to be found in me – superficially just one person with one passport and one driver’s licence.
What if there’s more to me (and you) than meets the eye?
What if behind the eyes and beneath the skin of all of us there were a community of parts of ourselves that occasionally get called ‘I’ and ‘myself’?
We’ve probably all experienced something like this. In a moment of enthusiasm ‘I’ decide that tomorrow morning ‘I’ am going to get up and go for an early morning run, ‘I’ am excited and looking forward to starting off the day.
In the morning when the alarm clock goes off that enthusiastic ‘I’ is nowhere to be found. The early morning ‘I’ wants to turn over and go back to sleep. Nothing could be worse than going for a run, this ‘I’ loves his bed and wants to stay in it.
There appear to be two ‘I’s inhabiting the same body, one is a wannabe athlete and the other is a wannabe sloth each taking turns to call the shots.
In different situations different facets of ourselves take on the role of ‘I’ in our lives.
There may be an ‘I’ that is confident in groups and gatherings, another ‘I’ that gets tongue-tied when speaking to the boss. An ‘I’ that can cope with difficulties another I that falls apart at the first sign of trouble.
All these ‘I’s learned who, and how, to be in early life, as a response to your experiences at that time. These I’s learn how to handle situations (however badly) then get the job of handling them thereafter. We have lots of internal ‘I’s, sometimes called sub-personalities, all doing their jobs, called into the limelight under their own specific circumstances.
It gets even more complicated, along with our ‘I’s we probably have some ‘myself’s and some ‘me’s all at work within our skin, helping or hindering us as we live our lives.
In an ideal world all these ‘I’s, ‘myself’s and ‘me’s would work together in harmony to reach our goals and enjoy a satisfying life. Sometimes it’s not like that. Like Barney and Fred these parts of ourselves can struggle to get on, or even be at war with one another. If that’s the case, life can be uncomfortable.
Let’s get back to Chris.
When he says ‘I blame myself’ I understand that to mean that a part of him (currently called ‘I’) blames another part of him (currently called ‘myself’), this conflict between these sub-personalities causes him (the whole person) distress.
If that’s the case how can we help him reconcile those conflicting parts?
Identity Reconciliation is a five part process designed to identify those parts, soothe their negative emotional states (these parts are often created at times of emotional distress), resolve their disputes, give each part the resources they need to move on and finally to re-integrate them back into the greater whole.
1. Identifying the parts
Identifying the parts, making the ‘I’ and ‘myself’ apparent and workable can usually be achieved by asking two simple questions about the original statement ‘I blame myself’.
In Chris’s case the ‘I’ part of ‘I blame myself’ was seven years old, the ‘myself’ part was four years old.
I asked him to imagine that these two parts of himself were out in front of him where he could ‘see’ them and how they got on.
On the left he imagined the ‘I’ parts as an angry seven-year old who was furious at the younger ‘myself’ part on the right. The ‘myself’ part was crying and upset.
2. Soothing the negative emotional states
As we tapped for these two sub-personalities it became clear to Chris that this younger ‘I’ was also ashamed and blamed the younger part, he felt helpless and thought he was going to get into trouble because of what the younger ‘myself’ was doing. The ‘myself’ part was upset, he didn’t know what he had done wrong.
We tapped through all their distressing emotional states, using the visualisations to guide us where to tap next.
3. Resolving the dispute
As well as tapping on the sub-personality’s individual distress it was possible to tap on the challenging relationship between these two parts.
The seven-year old ‘I’ didn’t know what to do or how to handle that younger self. The four-year old ‘myself’ part felt angry at ‘I’ and wanted to fight back, he was also scared of him.
Tapping on the various aspects of the conflict calmed down both sides of the dispute.
Even doing this much would soothe the inner conflict but there is more we can do to help these parts of ourselves heal and develop.
4. Resourcing the parts
Typically each part of these inner conflicts are struggling because they do not have, or did not have at the time they were formed, the resources they need to do what they want to do with ease.
Finding out what these parts of ourselves need is quite easy, you just know or you can ‘ask’ them.
In Chris’s case the ‘I’ part needed to be accepted and the ‘myself’ part needed to be comforted.
Although denied to these younger parts, these resources are readily available to our adult selves and can be accessed through simple visualisation techniques.
I asked Chris to ‘send’ the seven-year old ‘I’ some acceptance then send the four-year old ‘myself’ some comfort (which he visualised as a pink and red blanket wrapping around that younger self).
Allowing a few moments for those younger selves to experience the benefits of acceptance and being comforted, I asked Chris what he noticed now about these two parts of himself.
He said the seven year old part now loved the four-year old ‘myself’ like a little brother, the four year old myself ‘said’ of the seven-year old ‘I’ ‘he’s my big brother’.
The final part of the process was for Chris to bring these two younger parts back into himself .
I invited him to bring back each part in turn into himself, which he did. After allowing them to ‘settle in’ I asked Chris to invite them to grow up to be his current age so they could take advantage of all his wisdom and experience so far.
One of the difficulties for these younger parts is they only have the resources and wisdom to do what they need to do based on the experience they had when they were much younger. Unfortunately this is like putting a child in charge of managing challenging situations. By inviting these parts to grow up they can take advantage of all the wisdom and experience you have had since and become integrated into the adult whole, rather than being split off in their original un-resourceful and childish states.
After giving Chris a little time to continue this integration (which may take several hours or days to complete) I tested the results by asking him to say ‘I blame myself’. After a brief, puzzled pause he told me that the phrase had no emotional charge, it was just a collection of words.
Without blaming himself for everything and anything Chris felt less inner conflict and greater self acceptance and comfort.
The Advantages of Identity Reconciliation
There are many advantages to using this approach to work with identity conflicts:
- It’s easy to find out what work needs to be done because the client’s original statement tells you where to go and what to look for. You don’t have to dig around for distant memories or core events, they are not necessary.
You don’t need to tap through lots of painful memories to clear the issue.
- This process takes full advantage of the client’s inner wisdom and capabilities, using unconscious processes, visualisation and metaphor.
- It gives the client a way to step back from the internal conflict and bring a compassionate perspective to themselves and what’s going on.
- Everything you and the client need to resolve the inner conflict is available in the client and is easy to access
- You don’t need to use any clever reframes or setup statements, the processes lets you know what to do next.
- You can radically and gently change the relationships between the conflicting parts of ourselves fostering inner acceptance rather than inner civil war.
- You can give these younger parts of your clients what they need and help them integrate into the adult whole, bringing with them all the benefits of being that younger age and being able to take advantage of all the other wisdom and experience that the client has as the adult.
- Because you are working at the level of identity the results can be profound and pervasive.
Identity Healing Training
For the first time I will be running an Identity Healing training in Newcastle upon Tyne for EFT Level 2 (or above) practitioners that will explain and show how to the Identity Healing processes that I have developed to resolve troublesome identity beliefs (such as: I am a failure, there is something wrong with me, etc), identity conflicts (such as: I hate myself, I have to punish myself, etc) and to heal the other parts of ourselves that are troubled or troubling.
The Identity Healing training will take place on September 27th & 28th in Newcastle upon Tyne, click on the link to find out more.