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Steve Wells' series on EFT and Self-Acceptance
Part 4 of 4

 Hi Everyone,

EFT Contributing Editor Steve Wells from Australia concludes his popular series on EFT and Self-Acceptance.  For those interested, I have posted the entire series on our web site. 

Hugs, Gary


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…

Emotional Roots:

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’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.  Please feel free to email me at the address below.

Steve Wells

EFT Contributing Editor

Note: Workshops with Steve Wells and Dr David Lake in USA, September 2002, and Europe, November 2002.  Steve and David will show you how to use EFT to move beyond removing symptoms to creating new futures and achieving your ultimate goals.  Limited places, allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Pocket Guide to Emotional Freedom” by Steve Wells and Dr David Lake is an accessible guide to getting great results with EFT.  


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