By Dr. Patricia Carrington
Many of us have known for some time that we can use EFT to increase self esteem by tracing the myriad beliefs that may be corroding that self-esteem and tapping to reduce or eliminate them.
This can be helpful, but were we to try to neutralize every negative belief that most of us hold about ourselves, that would be a lifetime's work.
So, I am going to suggest a new way of improving your self esteem with EFT, one which I find to be much more profound and far reaching in its effects than any I have come across so far. It is easy to do, and uses the principle of “tapping in the positive” that I have recently been talking about. It is effective because self esteem is actually not a single thing but an accumulation of a multitude of appraisals that we make of our selves and our behavior, all day long.
Think about this. Your self-esteem was undoubtedly profoundly influenced by the reactions you obtained from others early in life, especially your family. Later, you undoubtedly internalized these reactions, made them part of your inner self and they became the basis for much of your self talk. If they were positive reactions this was fine, but if they were not (and most people’s childhoods gave them many negative messages) your self talk can be destructive and erode your self esteem. In this case it is as though you had a tape recorder inside your head that played back the messages that were given to you from others when you were a child.
Although your self esteem (or lack of it) was originally created largely from the reactions of others, if you are like most people, today it is based almost totally on your own self-appraisals. Even if others judge you harshly in the outside world today, if you don’t agree with their judgments, then you probably handle their negative appraisals without too much difficulty. It is only when your inner self-appraisal agrees with their outer appraisals that others’ negative comments about you cause distress and sometimes can be devastating. When this happens, their criticism is matched by your own inner critic, which renders you defenseless against it.
The importance of our own self-appraisals in determining how we experience life in general is of course paramount because we are automatically judging ourselves every moment of the day, and unfortunately, roughly 95% of the time our self-appraisals are likely to be negative, expressed as a form of self criticism. What we say to ourselves is apt to consist mostly of self blame, disappointment with ourselves, and anxiety over our actions etc. ─ I’m sure you’re familiar with the list!
When we consider that self-esteem is the summation of all the self appraisals we make in
our minds every day, all day long, you can readily see that to improve your self esteem involves either getting at those reactions and somehow changing them, or else counteracting them by “installing” new positive reactions to take their place.
When I speak about counteracting negative appraisals by creating positive ones, I am not referring to simply verbally changing what we say to ourselves. That can help of course, but it has many limitations because most of our self-talk is created when we are under pressure, in a hurry, trying to meet some deadline or high standard, or otherwise doing something that’s extremely difficult to do. We cannot alter basic attitudes easily under such circumstances, so we need something else to help us. This is where EFT comes in.
Before I share with you the EFT procedure I use for this purpose, I want to point out something important about the human need for appreciation.
Every living creature thrives on receiving positive attention and is in trouble if they don’t get it, and one of the most desirable forms of appreciation for a human being is “THANKS” in any form (you can substitute the words “gratitude” or “appreciation” or even “recognition” for “thanks” if those words feel more comfortable to you). It makes no difference whether this thanks (appreciation, etc.) comes to us in the form of a smile, an approving comment, or a physical gesture such as a hug or a pat on the back, or in some other way. Genuine appreciation literally makes a living creature like us grow and thrive. It makes life worthwhile!
Unfortunately though, appreciation for all the myriad little things that we do for ourselves each day (or for others) is a scarce commodity. In fact, the small acts that literally make up most of our lives are usually not even recognized when they occur.
Here’s an example. Let’s suppose that this morning you prepared your own breakfast, or if you didn’t take part in preparing it, that you at least chewed the food put in front of you and swallowed it. Did you do that?
If you prepared and/or ate breakfast, in one way or another you put effort into doing this. While you may never have looked at it this way before, actually you performed a service to yourself by doing this, and what I am going to suggest is that you use EFT to “tap in” thanks (gratitude, appreciation, use your own words) to yourself for performing a simple but essential act on your own behalf. Here is how to do this:
Without bothering to use any negative (“Even though…”) statement at the beginning of your sentence, simply tap on each EFT point in turn while repeating:
“I’m grateful to myself for making my breakfast (or making the effort to eat this food, etc.).” …. “I’m grateful to myself for making my breakfast (or making the effort to eat this food, etc.).” …. “, tapping in this phrase at each acupoint.
Or you might say, “I appreciate the fact that I made myself breakfast”, etc.
Or, “Thank you (your name) for making me breakfast (using the effort to eat) etc.”
Then sit back and notice what happens.
At first this EFT exercise may seem somewhat confusing to you. After all, this is a very tiny self-service to have performed in the great scheme of things, something you wouldn’t ordinarily notice or give any importance to, so why should you thank yourself for it?
Actually, that’s the whole point of the exercise! It works because a staggeringly high percentage (I would guess that it’s well over 99%) of the thousands of acts we perform each day, go unnoticed by ourselves, or by anyone else. They go unheralded and un-thanked. We ourselves don’t recognize or give any value to the continual services we perform for our own selves in daily living, or to the expenditure of effort and thought they represent.
However, we are keenly aware of the services we do NOT perform, the things we don’t do, or that we do in a way we don’t approve of. How do you think this continual attention to the negative, and unawareness of the positive, may be affecting your self esteem?
As you do this exercise by “tapping in” your gratitude and recognition for any little taken-for-granted service that you perform today, you will begin to notice that thoughts may come to your mind that go something like this:
“It really is nice that I prepared that breakfast for myself –– I appreciate it (or, Thank you (your name) or whatever way you want to express your appreciation.” Or you might think,
“It really did take effort on my part to chew that food and swallow it, and I kept everything neat and clean at the same time –that’s pretty amazing when you come to think of it! I really appreciate it (your name) (or you may prefer to say “I’m grateful to myself for…”) etc. And so forth….
What happens when I do this is that I start noticing more and more occasions when I can thank myself for little things, and when I tap these in, the habit of recognizing and thanking myself for very small things I do becomes even stronger and I appreciate myself more and more frequently. As I tap in my gratitude to myself for very small acts, I get an amazing sense of being noticed at last. This feeling might be described in words like:
“Finally, someone has noticed! They (really myself!) are noticing how much effort I put in every day of my life to do the things I’m supposed to do, or the things I’ve set my mind to do, and they (that’s me!) appreciate and love me for this!”
The great thing about doing this exercise is that, after only a few repetitions of it, during which you’ve recognized and appreciated yourself for a few simple acts, you may well have a lovely feeling inside– a “warm fuzzy” feeling as the saying goes. You will sense that you now have someone in your corner so to speak, someone who knows and loves you in an alert and sensitive way. This someone is like a genuinely loving parent who gently encourages you at all times, and is always at your side. This someone is you!
Do you know what doing this will do for your self esteem? Have you any idea how it will affect the rest of your day, and the rest of your life, if you do it often?
You will only know when you try it!
EFT Master, Dr. Patricia Carrington