Tapping In The 3rd Person For Better Self-Help

In the 3rd person

Image courtesy of Andrea

Tapping/EFT is an excellent self-help tool. It’s a simple way to soothe emotional stress and remove personal difficulties.

All you need to do is notice what is going on in your thoughts and feelings, then direct your tapping to soothe those troublesome memories, emotions or beliefs.

Using EFT on memories, emotions or beliefs can be quite straightforward, especially if you know what to tap on.

But sometimes it can be difficult to use tapping for self-help, because it can be hard to tap for ourselves, while we are in the middle of what we are tapping on.

Working on your own stuff can be difficult because:

  • When you are on the inside of the problem you are affected by the feelings and emotions of that problem. If the problem is upsetting or scary you will be upset or scared. It’s difficult to do good work if you are feeling strong emotions.
  • When you are inside the problem you see the problem through the perspective of the problem, it is as if you are wearing ‘problem goggles’. For example: if the problem is that you think there is nothing you can do to help yourself, that belief will get in the way of working on that belief because you will think there is nothing you can do to help yourself.
  • When you are inside a problem it’s hard to see what’s going on – it’s easier to read the label when you are outside the jar. Being a human is complicated. We are full of contradictory thoughts, feelings and responses, in so much confusion it can be difficult to see what is important. To people on the outside it might be obvious, but when you are on the inside it’s not so clear.

This is why working with another person who can see what you can’t see and guide your tapping accordingly can be so helpful.

A skilled EFT practitioner won’t be feeling what you are feeling, they won’t be wearing your ‘problem goggles’ and from the outside they can sometimes see what is going on in us more clearly.

But, there is never another tapper around when you need one!

What if you could more easily see what needs to be done and more easily work with it?

3rd Person tapping helps you be both on the inside and outside of the problem.

By asking surprisingly simple questions we can work with our stuff as if we were someone else and gain a little extra distance and perspective to help our tapping do the work it needs to do.

So what are these simple questions?

We are used to asking ourselves “How am I feeling?” or “What am I thinking?”.

If we ask ourselves “What am I … ?” or “How am I … ?” we have to be ‘inside’ ourselves to answer them. The linguistic structure of the question obliges us to be ‘inside’ our own experience.

Take a moment to ask yourself: “How am I feeling?” or “What am I thinking?”

What do you notice when you ask yourself these questions?

We can make a simple change to the wording of these questions to force ourselves to adopt a perspective that is slightly ‘outside’ ourselves.

All we have to do is ask our questions in the third person.

Using your own name, take a moment to ask yourself the questions in this format: “How is [your name] feeling?” or “What is [your name] thinking?”

What do you notice? What information is available to you now?

By asking questions in this form you can usually access a more dispassionate view of what is going on.

You can also tap from this perspective using “She feels ‘X'” or “He thinks ‘Y'” as the reminder phrases.

There are three advantages to this approach:

  1. By having the extra distance we will be less impacted by our ‘problem goggles’ and have a clearer view of what is going on.
  2. From the slightly dissociated third person perspective you may not be feeling the feelings as strongly as you do when your are ‘inside’ the problem, thereby making it easier to tap.
  3. From an external perspective you will be more easily able to see what is going on that would be less apparent if you were on the inside of the problem.

Note: You can also use this approach if you are working with someone else to help them gain a deeper understanding to what is going on within themselves.

3rd Person Tapping

There are four basic steps to this tapping approach

  1. Setting the scene
  2. Asking the questions
  3. Tapping on the answers
  4. Testing the results

1. Setting the scene

To get useful information you need to tune into the problem situation so the questions can yield useful information.

If you are working on your own think about the problem situation for a while to get a sense of what is going on. If you are working with someone else describe the troublesome situation to them.

2. Asking the questions

Ask yourself (or your partner) these questions to get a sense of the problem

  • “When [your name] is in this situation what is happening?”
  • “What is [your name] doing?”
  • “What is [your name] feeling?”
  • “What is [your name] thinking?”

Remember to phrase the answers in the third person.

For example:

“When Jane is in this situation what is happening?”

  • “Jane feels uncomfortable when she’s talking to her boss.”
  • “She is reluctant to speak openly.”
  • “She feels embarrassed.”
  • “She thinks he doesn’t value her.”

If it helps, write the answers to these questions down so you can evaluate the charge on them more accurately.

3. Tapping

Ask yourself (or your partner) which of these statements carries the greatest emotional charge.

Then tap for that statement in the third person.

  • “Even though s/he is thinking ‘X’, I deeply and completely accept her/him” as the setup statement followed by “S/he is thinking ‘X'” as the reminder statement.
  • “Even though s/he is feeling ‘Y’, I deeply and completely accept her/him” as the setup statement followed by “S/he is feeling ‘Y'” as the reminder statement.
  • “Even though s/he is doing ‘Z’, I deeply and completely accept her/him” as the setup statement followed by “S/he is thinking ‘Z'” as the reminder statement.

For example:

“Even though she feels embarrassed, I deeply and completely accept her” followed by a round of “She feels embarrassed”.

Continue the tapping process by asking:

  • “What is going on for [your name] now?”
  • “What do you notice about her/him?”
  • “How is s/he feeling?”
  • etc.

Tap on the answers to these questions until there is no more emotional charge.

4. Testing

As part of the testing we need to invite ourselves (our partners) back into the situation to check.

Ask yourself (your partner): “When I put myself back in that situation what is it like now?” or “When you put yourself back in that situation what is it like now?”

If there are still aspects to work on continue using the process to clear them.

I hope you find this process as useful as I have for uncovering hidden and unsuspected avenues for tapping.

Please let me know how you get on in the comments section below.

† I first learned about this way of asking questions from my good friend Harry Knox, NLP Trainer and creator of the Brief Grief Therapy process.

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