Steve Wells 4-part series on EFT and Self-Acceptance
Personal Note from Steve Wells:
No series of articles which I have written has generated as much interest as this 4-part series on Self-Acceptance which I wrote originally for Gary Craig’s EFT newsletter. Many people have written to tell me of their own experience in conducting their own 30-day self-acceptance trial, detailed in the series. I hope this series of articles helps you in your personal journey to self-acceptance and look forward to hearing your story.
Note from Gary Craig regarding the Self-Acceptance Series:
Self-Acceptance is among our most pervasive issues. It relates to Self-Image and “feeling good about oneself” and almost everyone has some concerns about it–at least in some areas of their lives.
It is also a very global issue and, as such, is made up of many individual contributors. In a way, the degree to which we “Self-Accept” is a mirror for the quality of our lives.
We are privileged to have Steve Wells (one of Australia’s premiere EFT’ers), take us through his personal journey along the road to enhanced Self-Acceptance. This four part series starts with a personal and open description of his own dilemma with Self-Acceptance and then launches into a treasure chest of techniques that deserves the applause of every reader.
This series is a keeper. Print it out and study it.
Hugs, Gary Craig
EFT and Self-Acceptance Part 1 of 4
By Steve Wells
Around 3 months ago I set out on a 30-day “Self-Acceptance Trial”. For 30 days I decided to target my own issues of non-acceptance of self as the primary issue – and apply EFT to this. The results have been astounding. In fact, so beneficial has this been that I decided some weeks ago to continue the program indefinitely.
In this series of posts I’d like to summarise the process I went through and some of the gains I have made, and encourage you to start your own 30-day (or life-long) self-acceptance trial. I’ll also discuss some of the distinctions I have made on the issue of self-acceptance and how this can be addressed in therapy.
For many years I suffered through various problems without realising that underneath them all lurked a bigger problem – I didn’t accept myself. Whenever I had a problem, I would be down on myself about the fact that I had it. Or what I was or wasn’t doing to fix it. Or I’d just be upset at ‘me’ in general, for not measuring up. I never realised just how pervasive this underlying lack of self-acceptance was, nor how insidious its effects on my energy, performance, and enjoyment of life… until now that I’ve been freed of much of the weight and pressure of it.
Earlier this year I noticed a lot of my clients were having trouble with self-acceptance. Usually this came to light when I asked them to make the Set-up Statement (“Even though I have this problem I deeply and completely accept myself”). Many clients would become upset and refuse to say the self-accepting part of the statement. How could they say they accept themselves when they very clearly did not?
I have faced this issue many times in the past and my usual approach is to have them emphasise the negative part of their self-belief and tie that in with a self-accepting statement anyway. For example, “Even though I don’t accept myself (because of this problem), I fully and completely accept myself!” “Even though I’m a terrible person (and this problem proves it), I fully and completely accept myself!” Many clients are able to move on at this point, and successfully address the problem in question. There is something very powerful in acknowledging the negative parts of self and bringing them into the light, and Dr David Lake and I have explored this in depth in our workshops and therapy. In fact, we’ve found great value in exaggerating the negative aspects even further – an approach we call Provocative Energy Therapy (More about this in future posts).
For these clients I realised that the underlying issue of non-self-acceptance was THE problem for them while the presenting problem was just a medium through which this was being expressed. In therapy, I asked these clients to list all the things they didn’t like about themselves and apply EFT to these, beginning with the most intense items. I also had them review early parts of their life where they learned that they weren’t acceptable, and we applied EFT to these negative emotional experiences.
At the same time I was going through a period where I wasn’t really accepting myself. Basically I felt I had stalled. I wanted to move forward in my work and my life but seemed to be making little progress. Instead of doing the things I knew I needed – even wanted – to do, I was wasting many hours playing computer games. This was causing neck and shoulder tension, leading to headaches, which affected my performance and my quality of life. I had also stalled in my exercise program. My business wasn’t moving forward in the ways I knew it could. I felt like a terrible father to my children, not able to give them the attention they deserved. And I felt terrible about me.
Funnily enough, although my life was actually going pretty well, I felt miserable.
One night I found myself sitting frustrated in front of the computer, having played too many games of chess when I knew I should have been doing something better and feeling really down on myself. In my frustrated state I began typing and as I did I decided I needed to work on my own issues of self-acceptance starting right now.
My first decision was to apply EFT to all of those things I didn’t accept about myself. I began to list them and apply EFT to them, just as I had advised my clients to do.
I then decided…
“For the next 30 days, I am going to practice being happy with myself the way I am, despite my limitations, and see what happens… Each time I find myself doing something I know I “shouldn’t” be doing, I am going to say “I accept myself even though I am doing X” and conduct EFT on “Doing X” and associated thoughts such as “Doing X makes me inadequate, bad, awful, etc”.
Examples of my Set-up statements back then include:
* “Even though I played chess on the computer tonight and that has stuffed up my neck, shoulders, jaw and back for another evening, I fully and completely accept myself.”
* “Even though I am a bad boy for playing chess when I should have been working, I fully and completely accept myself.”
* “Even though I am never going to be successful if I keep taking myself backwards like this, I fully and completely accept myself.”
I followed the thread of my thoughts as other underlying, irrational and related negative self-defeating beliefs came up, and then proceeded to tap on these.
* “Even though I am probably not going to keep this (30-day trial) up, I fully and completely accept myself.”
* “Even though I will just have another mediocre year and not achieve real, lasting success, wealth and happiness and joy I fully and completely accept myself”
* “Even though I will end up losing my family if I become too successful I fully and completely accept myself”
As I did the EFT on these irrational thoughts I noticed my thinking actually becoming more and more rational – It was not a case of denying problems but instead being empowered to address them head on.
I continued on, addressing other negative and limiting beliefs that have blocked my success, including beliefs about confidence (“I’m not confident enough”), spirituality (“If I become really successful I might lose my soul”), money and self worth (“How much I charge is a reflection of my self-worth”; “I can’t charge more because I’m not worth it”)…
I realised it wasn’t the truth of these beliefs but the intensity they provoked in me that was the problem. Some beliefs still registered as true even after tapping, however, what had changed was that I no longer evaluated myself negatively for them. Instead, I understood how I had come to be that way, and had an increased sense that this could and would change. I wouldn’t say I became determined in the sense of will power, it was more a knowing that it is OK the way it has been, OK the way it is AND it will be OK for me to change things.
I found the same for several other emotionally laden thoughts that had been bugging me for many months.
Another interesting experience during this experiment was that in most cases when I tapped on the fact that I was putting things off or doing things other than what I “should” be doing, I became more willing and able to do the things I had been putting off. Hmmm. This could be the cure for procrastination – Self-acceptance!
Despite my initial success however, I still had an underlying sense of inadequacy, I couldn’t seem to shake. Then I made one change in approach that let me to a major breakthrough…This is detailed in my next post.
Steve Wells’ series on EFT and Self-Acceptance: Part 2 of 4
For 30 days I had committed myself to tapping on “Accepting myself despite my limitations”. I’d had some initial success, but on Day 5 I achieved a breakthrough…
I was sitting in front of my computer that evening reviewing the notes I had made. I realised that despite some success, I was still feeling down on myself and didn’t seem to be getting far enough just applying EFT to the presenting issues and related beliefs. I needed to address the issue of self-acceptance more directly.
I typed the following:
I FULLY AND COMPLETELY ACCEPT MYSELF.
As I considered what associations I had to the idea of accepting myself I realised that the truth was I didn’t accept myself at all. I decided this was the issue that needed to be met head-on, not all those things I’d been amassing as reasons not to accept myself.
As I began tapping, I realised that underlying my non-self-acceptance was a fear that accepting myself was bad and would lead me down the path of ego. I also believed that if I accepted myself for all the things I had been doing that were wrong then I might not fix them. I might just continue to procrastinate and do things that weren’t really good for me. At a deeper level I also believed I was unacceptable to God.
So I tapped on these beliefs in both positive and negative form. I applied EFT to each negative belief by putting it into the set-up statement and repeating the full statement at every tapping point. As I tapped on each statement, I paid attention to the thoughts and feelings that came up with it and applied EFT to any negative and related beliefs that were elicited.
* “Even though if I accept myself completely I won’t keep improving, I fully and completely accept myself.”
* “Even IF I fully and completely accept myself, I am still a good person.”
Underneath, I believed I would not be a good person if I accepted myself. This was connected to some deeply held spiritual beliefs from my early (negative) religious programming, so I tapped on:
“Even THOUGH I fully and completely accept myself, I am still acceptable to God.”
This caused a very negative reaction. I thought: “No I am NOT fully and completely acceptable to God! God wants me to be better and to do better…”
So I tapped on: “Even though God couldn’t possibly accept me the way I am, I fully and completely accept myself.” And “Even though I am completely unacceptable to God, I fully and completely accept myself.”
I then began to think: “This (non-self-acceptance) is rubbish! Jesus forgave people their sins. Do I think God will not accept me? Forgive me? Aren’t acceptance and forgiveness just two sides of the same coin?”
I continued to explore my underlying fears. It seemed to me that too much self-acceptance could lead to me being ego-driven and making out that I was superior, like a god.
I applied EFT to this by putting it into the set-up statement and repeating it at every tapping point just as I had done with the previous belief statements (“Even though if I accept myself completely I will be unacceptable to God…” and; “Even though if I accept myself I’m making out that I’m superior…”)
I then thought: “Rubbish! I’m not making myself God by accepting myself. I’m merely revelling in what HE has created. Should not I love myself AND my neighbour AS myself? How can I love my neighbour as myself if I don’t love myself?”
Finally, after several more rounds of tapping, I had an intense realisation: “Accepting myself is NOT the same as ego taking over. God loves and accepts me unconditionally, I just haven’t accepted myself. Accepting myself IS good.”
And then a whole host of positive thoughts and feelings came rushing in. It was as if all the things I wanted to believe and knew were really true finally felt true. I felt I re-connected with my true purpose and all the barriers just melted away.
GC COMMENT: Please notice how Steve’s tapping on these issues brought about new perspectives–new reframes–new belief changes. These shifts in perception happen frequently with EFT. It’s as though the mental barriers to the truth has been lifted.
STEVE CONTINUES: As these positive thoughts flooded my being, they were accompanied by a feeling of peace that is difficult to describe, a feeling that lasted several days and bathed me in its light.
For the first time I realised the true power of self-acceptance, and saw the stupidity of our prevailing belief that we need to put ourselves down in order to get ourselves to do things in order to make ourselves happy. I realised I could be happy no matter what I did, and no matter what was happening around me – and that this would not only not impede me from moving forward, it would help me to do so. I also realised being happy with myself meant I could do so much more for others…
From this point onwards I was able to effortlessly proceed with my work, attacking with relish projects on which I’d been bogged down for months. I didn’t even feel like doing the things I had previously been doing that were distractions. I no longer found myself playing games on computer. I was able to reinstate my exercise program and improve on it. I started to enjoy my work again and felt I was back to working “on-purpose”… To put it simply, my life changed, and so correspondingly did the lives of others with whom I began to share these insights.
Now whenever problems come up, besides addressing the problem itself, I also address the issue of self-acceptance. I encourage you to do the same. I’ve found that whenever I confront a problem I’m now able to see the problem as separate from myself, and even when something I am doing is a problem I don’t usually get down on myself about it, I just focus on the best way forward.
I believe the issue of self-acceptance, an issue that has been staring us in the face every time we do the Set-up statement in EFT, offers a doorway to a new level of being in the world, and a new level of self-growth and happiness.
If you’d like to see how far self-acceptance tapping can take you, here are the first two steps I recommend you take:
- Identify any problem to work on using EFT. Apply EFT to the idea of accepting yourself despite having this problem (and even if you continue to have this problem). Repeat the self-acceptance statement at each tapping point in the same form as you used it in the Set-up: i.e. “Even though I have this problem I fully and completely accept myself” stated as you tap on each point. Meditate on the idea of accepting yourself – as unacceptable as this may feel – while you tap on each point.
- Catch yourself in non-acceptance – then do EFT on the very thing(s) that you are not accepting yourself for… Now focus on two different ideas – one that you accept yourself despite the fact that you are doing, thinking, etc this thing, and second, that even though you do not accept yourself for doing, thinking, etc this thing that you are going to accept yourself anyway even though what you are doing, thinking etc is unacceptable… this treats you for the second wounding – that of picking on yourself for picking on yourself… When you have treated the upset at yourself for your problem then you are free to address the original problem… And sometimes, this feeling about the problem is the main problem. Once this is treated, often no trace of the original problem remains.
Steve Wells’ series on EFT and Self-Acceptance: Part 3 of 4
After my initial breakthroughs on self-acceptance I was interested to explore whether there were additional insights and freedoms to be attained.
Around this time I read an email post by Patricia Carrington entitled Self Acceptance Without Judgment which detailed her findings in adjusting the self-accepting statement to include the phrase “without judgment”. I tried this and found it quite useful, and felt that it definitely added another dimension to the personal work I was doing. I would recommend anyone who is exploring self-acceptance issues also read Pat’s previous post and experiment with adding that phrase to the self-accepting statement.
Each day I also receive several positive quotes in my email inbox from various sources, and one day the following Chinese Proverb arrived:
“Deal with the faults of others as gently as your own.”
When I read this I thought “Wow, I don’t deal with my faults gently at all!” So I tapped on…
* “Even though I am tough on myself…”;
* “Even though I won’t allow myself to have faults or make mistakes…”
I followed my thinking through several associations such as: “Making mistakes is important if I am to learn the right way – Because I have been so upset about making mistakes, and down on myself for them, I have been less prepared to take the risks necessary to achieve big things.”
I realised this was another way of getting down on myself, so I tapped on…
* “I accept myself even though I haven’t been prepared to take risks due to fear of making a mistake…”;
* “I accept myself even though I have not achieved enough yet due to my fear of making mistakes…”
All of a sudden I was transported back in my mind to my Year 6 classroom where the motto was “If you’re going to do something, do it properly”, a guideline which the teacher repeatedly implored us to follow.
GC COMMENT: We all have loads of “writings on our mental walls” like the above “truth” by Steve’s teacher. They tend to guide (and sometimes limit) us through life until we eventually question them. EFT, as you can see, often elevates the quality of our thoughts so that the absurd side of these “truths” becomes obvious.
STEVE CONTINUES: I immediately did a round of tapping on this class motto, “Even though if you’re going to do something you should do it properly, I fully and completely accept myself”.
This brought back memories of the teacher’s exasperation with us when we failed to measure up, it also allowed me to see the parts of the statement that do serve me and how I also took on some meanings that didn’t serve me.
I then recalled a critical incident in that classroom where I had received 49.5 out of 50 for the weekly test – the highest mark anyone had achieved all year – and yet I copped a lot of criticism from both the teacher and my parents for falling short by making a “silly mistake”.
I reviewed this incident in my mind and tapped on the parts that held negative emotional intensity. I also applied tapping to the following thoughts:
* “Even though I made a silly mistake…”;
* “Even though their criticism hurt…”;
* “Even though I must do things properly…or else…”.
After this I was able to go back to my work and became quite productive. As my fear of making mistakes had been relieved, I found myself no longer self-editing or self-critical to the same degree. And over the next few weeks I realised that I was able to achieve more in my work because I was no longer as fearful of making mistakes.
Exercise Number 3 for Self-Acceptance:
To take your own journey to self-acceptance further, locate all the childhood experiences where you learned that you were/are not acceptable and apply EFT to them. Use Gary’s Run the Movie Technique, where you turn the event into a 1-minute movie and play it through frame-by-frame, stopping to tap on any part of it that makes you feel intense, until you can review the whole movie without experiencing the same emotional intensity.
As you play the memories through, try to identify the beliefs you learned or the generalisations you took from the experience that are now limiting you and tap on those too. Put each negative belief statement into the set-up statement and repeat the entire belief statement at each tapping point. Keep tapping on this until the belief statement feels less true. Follow the links to other incidents and the thoughts that come up with them, applying tapping to each in turn. Always finish by doing a round or two of tapping where you repeat the entire self-acceptance phrase (“I accept myself deeply and completely”) at every tapping point.
Steve Wells’ series on EFT and Self-Acceptance: Part 4 of 4
Some Notes on Addressing Self-Acceptance Issues in Therapy
When clients have trouble with the self-accepting part of the EFT set-up statement I now take this is a cue to treat the issue of self-acceptance for that person. Rather than just trying to skirt around the client’s unwillingness to make the self-accepting statement and find some way to proceed with treating the “problem”, I believe it is worthwhile to focus on the non-acceptance as a problem in its own right.
Often when people get relief on a particular problem, say a phobia, they also tend to get a burst of energy and self-acceptance. However, lack of self-acceptance seems such a pervasive thing that it usually isn’t long before their concerns have centred on a different problem. They now have a different reason for not accepting themselves. The fact that we move on to different problems in a constant manner is not the challenge – the challenge is that our lack of self-acceptance underlies them all – it is the one constant. I believe we need to target this directly. In my case, it has been a very fruitful area of self-discovery and personal growth.
Sources of Low Self-Acceptance:
Clients do not accept themselves as they are for many reasons. One reason is because they (we) have conflicting parts inside us jostling for position. Human motivation is always multiple says Frank Farrelly, the creator of Provocative Therapy, and I believe he is right. Winston Churchill called this process “Internal Civil War”!
When I query clients on the reasons why they don’t accept themselves, these are the things they typically come up with:
I do not accept myself because….
* I have this bad problem
* I do not do the things I should do.
* I do things I shouldn’t do / I did something bad in my past
* I think thoughts that are bad and evil
* I have not achieved the level of success I should…
* My performance at some test/task is/was below some standard…
* I don’t know what I want, or the best way to proceed…
Typically, the non-self-acceptance has roots in past childhood experiences where mother/father/teacher/significant adult/significant peer/mentor did not accept them. The generalisation becomes “Since they did not accept me, I cannot be acceptable”. This is a strong common theme. Invariably there are several key incidents where the negative view of self was “learned”.
Since the negative self-assessment is frequently grounded in past experiences where a significant adult (or three) rejected them, or did not acknowledge them in their desired ways, this provides strong justification for the ongoing negative self-evaluation. In other words, it provides the legs holding up the belief table on which lays their self-dissatisfaction. If we detach the legs then the belief table is no longer supported, and therefore the belief is no longer strongly held.
Thus, treating the past experiences that have gone together to create the key belief is one very powerful way of affecting the current evaluation. It is also important to treat the almost God-like status afforded to the adult(s) in question by the child at this time. Reducing their status reduces the power of their pronouncement or the assessment implied by their action or inaction.
Past experiences can be identified and treated as mini-traumas, using Gary Craig’s Run the Movie technique. Treat until the client can relate the event without experiencing any emotional intensity. Also treat the generalisations associated with the experiences by having them state these at each tapping point (eg. “Even though I’m not good enough…”). Have the client make the statement and feel how true it feels. Then apply EFT and consider the new rating. Also check how much emotional intensity the statement provokes, and consider the new rating of intensity following treatment. Typically this will be much less.
Challenges in current time:
Negative self-assessment may be held in the mind in order for self-protection. The fear needs to be addressed that without this the person will be challenged in dealing with life. Many clients believe, as I did, that if they accept themselves as they are they will give up on their quest for self-improvement – they actually see the self-deprecation as useful and self-acceptance as undesirable. One way in which these challenges can be addressed is by having them tap on both sides of the continuum (Self-acceptance is bad vs. self-acceptance is good; I’ll stop achieving vs. I can happily achieve; etc).
I hope these initial notes are useful to those working in this area. I’d love to hear from you regarding your experiences in applying EFT to the issues around self-acceptance, either for yourself or your clients.
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