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By Steve Wells

When using EFT, the first step is to design a set-up statement, which includes a self-acceptance statement combined with a description of the problem. Something along the lines of “I accept myself even though I have this (problem)”. Or “Even though I have this (problem), I deeply and completely accept myself.”

The set-up in EFT involves repeating the abovementioned statement whilst tapping on the karate chop point or rubbing a sore spot on the chest and is presumed necessary in order to deal with psychological reversal, or subconscious blocking beliefs that can get in the way of your getting over the problem…

Now as an aside you probably know that we have shown with
SET that it isn’t necessary to use a set-up statement in order to do this, or to get progress on your problem. But I digress…

When we were using EFT (before developing SET) we noticed an incredible number of people coming to us with self-acceptance issues such as, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not worthy”; “I’m not smart enough”, and so on…”. Everyone seemed to be dealing with self-acceptance challenges.

Why was this? Was it just because self-acceptance IS such a universal issue? Well yes it is but why was self-acceptance coming up into the open so often when it hadn’t normally come up to this degree in our respective practices prior to using EFT?

The reason is obvious in hindsight. It was because the set-up statement we were using in EFT was helping them to “tune into” their self-acceptance problem! Far from helping clients to accept themselves, which many in the EFT world falsely believe, the use of the set-up statement was actually provoking out their lack of self-acceptance. They were being forced to say, “I deeply and completely accept myself” and their internal reaction was “Hang on, that’s not true, I don’t accept myself at all!”

A positive side to this is that we, along with maybe thousands of other EFT practitioners worldwide would then go off into working with them on their self-acceptance issues … which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. Except that it might not be the issue they came in expecting to treat…

Some clients, particularly those with the biggest self-acceptance issues (meaning that they didn’t accept themselves at all, or were even downright hostile towards themselves), were so upset by the self-accepting part of the EFT set-up statement that they refused to say it. Over the years, many EFT practitioners have grappled with this issue, and there have been numerous alternatives to the standard set-up statement proposed – such as having them state that even though they don’t accept themselves they want to accept themselves, or other variations…

In fact, there have now been so many different set-up statements that have been proposed and used, presumably all with great effect, and so many of these bear almost no resemblance to the originally proposed format, that it seems difficult to justify the insistence that such a standard set-up format is really necessary…

And here's something even more interesting…

Because our tendency in using Provocative Energy Techniques (PET) is to join with and exaggerate the energy and position that is given to us by our clients, we would often go along with the negative thinking of those clients who balked at the positive version of the self-accepting statement and have them instead repeat a statement such as the following:

“Even though I have this (problem) I deeply and completely reject myself!”

Many of our clients would very willingly repeat such a statement, often smiling or nodding with agreement as they did so! And here’s the thing: They would then typically go on and have a significant shift on the presenting issue!

In fact, we found using this so-called “negative” statement in the EFT set-up could have as much potential for shifting clients’ issues, sometimes more so, than using the regular “positive” self-acceptance set-up statement. So much for the assumption that the set-up statement must have a positive, self-accepting component to be effective.

How can this be?

In the world of duality, in the presence of everything is it’s opposite. Whenever you tune into the issue of self-acceptance, you tune into a belief system which includes both sides, the part of you that does accept yourself, and the part of you that is down on yourself. Try telling yourself that you accept yourself when you really don’t and up will come the other side, or your own internal resistance to this idea.

This is what we found would happen when we used the “positive” EFT self-acceptance set-up statement. If you hold a negative view of yourself, particularly if these beliefs are very strong, repeating a positive, self-accepting statement can in fact provoke many people to think and feel more negatively. The strange paradox is that also, for many people, repeating a negative, self-rejecting statement can provoke an internal reaction that “I’m not that bad!”

What’s our real aim here?

Is our aim in treating self-acceptance issues to end up in a position where we always think positively about ourselves? Or is it to accept all of ourselves, including the parts that currently disturb us? I contend that it is the latter.

The challenge of course is that we don’t want to accept our dark parts, we fear that if we do that they will overwhelm us. This is why Carl Jung says that "The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely." Actually, with SET and PET accepting oneself doesn’t have to be so terrifying after all.

Now there’s another question:

Is it really the positive self-accepting statement in EFT that causes the result, or is it that by pairing a positive and a negative statement you have a version of yin and yang together, that you are stating both sides of something? That is a more truthful position. If that is so, then any variation of this could work. Even though I shouldn’t have this problem, I do have it. Try that, and I’m sure you will find it will work just as well as the originally proposed format…

Here’s another alternative: 

Eliminate the set-up altogether, and go straight for the problem, accepting whatever “is” for you, and just apply tapping to its presence, as in SET, without trying to change anything. Then follow whatever comes up, accepting each aspect of the problem as legitimate and real, and just adding tapping, as you move through different levels and layers of the problem…

Some people worry that accepting the problem as it really is will lead to passivity, like giving in. Or they fear that the problem will rise up and overwhelm them. But this doesn’t tend to happen.

Sometimes when tapping and going with whatever comes, there can be an initial spike of negative emotion, but then the problem often rapidly settles down (If it doesn’t after persistent tapping, consider consulting with a trained therapist or physician).

Ultimately, acceptance frees up massive energy for change, energy that has previously been wasted in resistance (where what you resist, persists). 

As Carl Rogers says, "The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change." Acceptance is not passive at all. It is a doorway through which all change happens.

There is so much more that can be said however I hope these few ideas have provoked some thought.

What do you think? I look forward to reading your comments.

Best wishes,

Steve Wells

PS: Come to a workshop and learn how self-acceptance using SET and PET can be a doorway to profound personal peace. Here’s an example of feedback we’ve received:

“Dearest Steve

I am resting and relaxing in a pleasant, peaceful place on my self-acceptance journey. I have never been to this place before. I need no-one's permission, and I need no-one's approval. I really like this new way of being. (It) is a totally new and foreign space but I love it. Thank you always”

Gail Bayly

For details of upcoming workshops see:

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