By David Lake
What do you say and do when you use Tapping (EFT and/or SET) for a relationship problem? Where do you start? One of the most misunderstood concepts in relationship therapy is the goal of treatment. You may be surprised to find that in the field, this often remains essentially undefined. Therapists rush off in all directions with whatever feels comfortable to them. In my work as a relationship specialist, and in my contributions to this Forum, I intend to expand on my belief that the simplest goal is friendship; neither love nor happiness lends itself to immediate comprehension or mutual agreement. Essentially, all suffering is loss of love and attachment to fear. My goal in preparing the work of using EFT / SET in treatment is to have this in mind. In future posts I will focus intensely on the practical work in EFT / SET of finding the right words (talking smart), and using your intuitive gifts of feeling to promote harmony for your client (or yourself). I will give you as much as I know about the doing of EFT / SET. Please feel free to use any of my words as long as you acknowledge the source if you go into the public domain.
First let me suggest that it’s futile to rush into treating. It’s like getting out the street directory when you’re driving at speed. I think that before using any technique or therapy, you need to decide on a therapeutic framework that contains your own beliefs and philosophy, and which has application to ordinary people struggling with negative beliefs. As well, this framework should be practical and workable in reality. When you look at the general quality of advice in the relationship marketplace, and in popular media, it’s time to treat yourself for the despairing thought that couples are doomed to live lives of unfulfilled dreams of closeness. Although EFT / SET must be applied in a relational way, with great rapport, and is thus highly client-centred, the way I use it is according to my personal belief about a polarity.
This polarity is the interplay between friendship and criticism. I say friendship because it is a code word for closeness, devotional goodwill and thoughtful acceptance. We would always expect our good friends to respect and approve of us even if we have less than perfect behaviour. Conversely, we would never treat our friends the way we sometimes treat our partner-if we did, they would avoid us. People don’t understand “relationship” because it’s too difficult; only psychologists are fond of the concept. But we do understand friendship from our earliest days. Of course living together with someone implies a more intense and potentially difficult experience but friendship is a good basic standard to aspire to. “Whatever gets in the way of our friendship” is a definition of a problem. If the outcome of trying to change a problem is the deterioration of the friendship, then the strategy is not working (“we had to destroy the village in order to save it”)
When we fail in this way, we enter a world of fault-finding and nit-picking which only confirms the truth that our partner is different, has different standards or values, and doesn’t agree 100% with everything we want or need. Men don’t leave the toilet seat down; women can’t reverse park with confidence. Naturally this is intolerable. In the absence of any feedback or reality-testing, our resultant criticism is rarely constructive, and I consider this process one of the main relationship poisons. It is particularly toxic because it speaks of a process of struggle between two people that is both life-denying and impractical. Other’s problems are far more fascinating than our own, so we feel free to step in with solutions. Criticism produces deep hurt over time, and implies that the criticiser is “one-up” and superior (when in reality we all have significant problems with our partners) and the criticisee is less worthy or valued as a person. We may think that it is OK to indulge, but we rarely have the high moral ground. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Knowing this intellectually is not much help, since when we do fail in our spiritual aspirations to be the good partner it’s too easy to end up feeling wracked with remorse and guilt. Anyway, we prefer to blame and judge as it’s most satisfying in the short-term! The fact that it doesn’t work in the relationship, ruins your credit rating with the partner, and invariably causes resentful and hurt feelings, goes right over our heads in the moment!
This ignorant habit is ideal for self-help with EFT / SET. We see differences where none exist. In the relational sense we are all seekers of the truth, and all want to be loved and accepted for who we are. We have the responsibility to sort out our own reactions to the partner’s behaviour, to negotiate, to apologise. EFT / SET helps you remove the blocks to doing all these things positively. Nothing gives you the right to criticise your friend unless you are already perfect, and even then it is unlikely to achieve much that is positive for a happy life together. So-give this criticising up. This admonition alone will bring up a wealth of material to tap on- at length- if you don’t feel that it applies to you (hint: ask your partner “do you ever feel criticised by me?”).
On a personal note, I had to choose, some years ago, between having a good relationship with one of my daughters, or getting her to pick up her wet towels consistently. I had made having both together impossible by failing to realise that she was not going to change, and criticising her to excess. After biting my lip in silence and the first 100 towels, I discovered EFT. I could have saved myself a lot of self-pity. Now, I am starting to enjoy picking them up, and anyone else’s towels that are lying about (I told you I was a member of the helping profession). Am I doing the wrong thing? I don’t care. The friendship is going fine. I suppose I have a few irritating habits that upset her, but I really don’t know since I haven’t got the courage to disturb the status quo.
Some general comments about relationship therapy. One partner alone can find the responsibility of dealing with a couple problem overwhelming. No two-person problem can be solved by only one. Some relationships have outlived their usefulness, and it is time to move on. Some problems arise at one time to provide the best opportunity you ever had to “break the chain” of dysfunction. In future contributions I hope to outline the specific leverage points where I have found it best to apply EFT / SET in such couple issues, and also to show how practicing acceptance can be fun. For those of you who are managing to stay afloat with their partner without the benefit of all this specialised knowledge, keep doing what you’re doing! You may be on to something. As my mentor Frank Farrelly (originator of Provocative Therapy) says: “people who think they know everything really irritate those of us who do”. I am not the font of all wisdom on these matters, and I would enjoy feedback (which naturally should consist of a large measure of adulation) from others who labour in this vineyard before they come to their rest.
With my best intentions,