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Articles & Ideas


Paradoxes in validating one's Self

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

David Lake, MD from Australia both educates and entertains us with this thought provoking article aimed at the paradoxes involved in validating one's self.

He begins by acknowledging the difficulty many people have with the "I accept myself" part of the EFT set up phrase and proceeds to add insights as to why this happens. He says, "We mistakenly conclude that our mistakes and faults should never exist. That they could never be part of wholeness."

Then Dave provides some steps for dealing with this problem...including some clever language. You may want to write down some of his phrases.

Hugs, Gary

By David Lake, MD....

"We do not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." (C.G.Jung)

This post is about accepting our 'dark side' using paradoxical methods.

Validate means to confirm or corroborate. [Valid: having some foundation, based on truth. The archaic meaning is robust, well (Collins English Dictionary)]. It means affirming a sense of self--personally, and for others.

It is our work on ourselves that makes the difference in relationship with another. This work is the only area in which we have the healthy illusion of control.

We have huge problems in relationship accepting all the human qualities of another but these are insignificant to the struggle in accepting ourselves as we truly are.

Are you accusing your close friends of having poor judgement in liking you?

How can we extend compassion to others if we blame ourselves?

"Nothing human is foreign to me" (Oscar Wilde)

EFT is for connection: "I accept myself..." Yet I have noticed very consistently that people hesitate when saying the reminder phrase for the first time when this word appears. Obviously a part of them does not accept themselves, as Steve Wells has recently explored in his posts on self-acceptance. They cannot validate their self and being--it would not seem to be real or true--if it includes all the disowned and awful stuff.

This moment of awareness in the EFT session calls for a balanced and practical approach, because I think it represents the problem of human suffering--the underlying contracted, disconnected, life-denying state.

"Well, on the day I was born, God was sick" (poet Cesar Vallejo)

This "dark side" is a paradox. It has its own weird logic. If you say that you do accept--then because this includes the unacceptable parts of you, you are a must have poor standards and don't try hard enough. If you say that you don't accept --then you are stuck with the hopelessness of being your fault-ridden self, and closing the door to change. It is a double bind of monstrous proportions.

Of course the mind thinks about this in black/white and good/bad terms, but I feel certain that a dark truth is waiting for healing in this situation. Right at the start of learning EFT people encounter their own invalidation. And it fits! In this "relationship" with ourselves we are not together--we are separated.

The resistance is not logical, or rational, or intellectual--it is emotional and part of a negative belief.

Of course we were trained and conditioned over years to think and feel that something was wrong with us--because of our behaviour. "You're a bad boy!" instead of "What you did was bad!"

This is the essential invalidation. "Familiar" comes from the word for family. We hold on to these learnings (and often generalise significant ones to all people) for life in some cases. These are our good and bad "rules". Psychotherapy books written on this subject are a 2-man lift.

Getting rapport with your disowned part

Why are therapists and friends in such a hurry with us to validate the positive, and sidestep or deny the negative? I think the great challenge is in validating the "dark side": recognising what it means, and acknowledging its legitimate presence and linked suffering.

Few people consider that their mistakes are what they can truly call their own! And these are not necessarily "learning experiences" either--just mistakes. A friend of mine says wryly: "I don't know how many more of these learning experiences I can handle..."

We mistakenly conclude that our mistakes and faults should never exist. That they could never be part of wholeness.

When a couple fights in the counselling room, I don't stop them! I merely enquire after a lull if this is the nature of their relationship. I tell them I don't want to interfere with a finely-tuned system that might be working just fine in a way I can't understand. Usually they are evenly matched. Of course the each partner blames other and finds them impossible to live with. This is the relationship! So, "What's the problem?"

I accept their "fault" while I tacitly encourage them to change. But if they don't or won't--that's life. [Who am I to impose my beliefs about friendship and companionship on a couple who so obviously are saving two other people from such relationship misery?]

The first key to change is awareness.

"The FOCUSING approach with it's total acceptance of everything, no judgment, no fixing, but BEING PRESENT to everything that comes is the crucial factor for me, and that's what I try to bring to my clients" (Christel Kraft)

Most suffering in relationship is caused by the triggering of toxic feelings of disconnection. Where is it written that those we love will never hurt us? It happens. We cause it to others too.

People hate being criticized--especially in relationship-- because this intrudes into their existing self-doubt at once.

The second key is allowing the awareness to be.

We can say "yes" to this part of our being instead of "no" to the trauma it represents (thanks to Tapas Fleming for the beginning of this idea). This does not mean agreement, or capitulation.

We bring it out into this light--the front of the thought field--where it withers. Only secrecy, fear, shame and hurt will feed it. There is the universal fear that our dark side will prevail--will drown us. With the thoughtful and persistent use of EFT I have never seen this happen.


The third key is using EFT to sneak up on your dark side

This is like using psychological aikido. Fancy being cheerful with all those faults...

"I'm not OK and you're not OK--but, hey, that's OK!" (Mafia Self-Help Manual)

In the clinical work Steve Wells and I have been doing, to "stimulate" negative beliefs with humour and paradox (while assiduously using EFT), we have noticed disproportionate benefits and results, particularly the relief from a subtle pressure to think in only one way (i.e. positive) about the world, and a delightful irony in attitude--the very opposite of cynicism--which manifests as a healthy respect for personal faults and limitations. This leads toward self-reconciliation and wholeness.

"I'm a work in progress", said one bemused workshopper.

General EFT

Sometimes you can approach the main event directly, using EFT (with the reminder phrase IN CAPITALS):

"I accept myself with ALL MY FAULTS AND FAILINGS" "I accept myself even though I DON'T ACCEPT MYSELF"
"I accept myself even though NOTHING WORKS OUT"
"I KNOW I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH even if others say I am"

Reworking The Problem

I use the set-up in EFT for the creative reworking of the problem, followed by interweaving paradoxical suggestions--as variations on a theme--while tapping the points.

"Even if I AM A SLOW LEARNER...looking through rose-coloured glasses...stumbling down the road of life..."
"It wasn't me--it was my evil identical twin who did it"


Exaggeration & Irony

In a light-hearted way I use the words awful, terrible and horrible as adjectives to 'pile up the problem' and seemingly turn a molehill into a mountain.

"Although I have such an awful partner...really terrible to me...I'm doing my best"
"It's probably too hard for me to get over this...
"This could be worse than I thought..."
"The first 40 years is the hardest..."

The paradoxical approach to the paradoxical problem

"Even though I can't accept myself, I accept that I cannot accept myself, and at least I can accept I can't accept myself." Dr Alexander Lees (EFT Contributing Editor) [D.L. This is brilliant phrasing--I wish I had thought of this.]

This statement shows the truth and validation of allowing the negative and the positive to co-exist. There is a difference between being balanced and being perfect.

"I blame myself for wanting to blame myself--which I'm not doing" "I'm the only one allowed to talk to me like that!"

Re husbands: "He may not be much--but he's mine!" (Frank Farrelly)

Polarity phrasing

I suggest you take advantage of the way the mind works by stating the negative ideas you perceive, and adding in the positive opposite, when using EFT paradoxically:

Reminder Phrase: " I don't accept myself at all...for lots of reasons...but I do!"

Or the other way round (positive to negative):

Reminder Phrase: "I'm a really good person...kind to animals...but not myself!"


Alternate tapping on opposites

First point: "I'm a good person" Second Point: " Not all the time" Third Point: "I do my best" Fourth Point: "Which isn't really good enough" Fifth Point " But I keep going" etc

The negative

This phrasing consistently brings up the negative directly, or the positive you wish for (and can't seem to have) and I find gives "leverage" in EFT. I place a large emphasis on the negative statements in the context of working with someone, and doing a great deal of tapping on the associations and experiences that arise. For the client I "speak the unspeakable" and "think the unthinkable" (from the tenets of Provocative Therapy) if I have excellent rapport. The effect of stimulating the negative is intense and constructive--the paradoxical miracle of the energy therapies. I prefer continual tapping on several accessible points when working in this way.

So often there are no words, but much hurt feeling, from lack of validation in the past. Work with this in the body (e.g. "this stomach emotion") if you can discover it ("Where do you imagine this might be in your body if you had to name a place?"), and if it is easier that way.

Memories, experiences and impressions are linked to these core beliefs: use EFT persistently with them all to be thorough. Healing the effects of certain incidents can be life-changing! Although I think the effects of the life-denying part of any person can never be completely eliminated, with the right approach they shall not dominate. It's lonely being your own therapist, so if you find you are climbing a personal Mt Everest--get some help.

Larry Nims says that, according to our training, conditioning and early life experiences, we are "doing the best we can". EFT and the energy therapies have the potential to distort and shatter our invalidating perceptions permanently.

EFT is for discovering your true self.

David Lake, MD


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