By Dr. Patricia Carrington
As we all know, self esteem is a major issue in many problems. It is often so central that the default self acceptance phrase used in EFT (“I deeply and completely accept myself”) or its equivalents, do great service in helping people overcome this core issue. Since I advocate using a “Choices” affirmation in place of this phrase for many issues (See the Choices Manual). I want to make it clear that I almost invariably use the standard self acceptance phrase where issues of self esteem, self blame, guilt etc. are clearly at stake. Because of the value of this phrase and of the concept behind it, I would like to offer a few suggestions on ways that we can, when that is necessary, perhaps make it even more valuable.
There are certain drawbacks to the self acceptance phrase as it stands. If it doesn’t seem to “fit” the issue at hand for example, some people new to the method may be reluctant to try it or feel foolish when doing so and therefore derive less benefit from EFT. Also, a number of experienced EFT’ers have reported that some of the effect goes out of the phrase for them when they’ve used it many hundreds of times over the weeks, months or years — it can become automatic and so unattended to. While the influence of the specific acupoints that are being tapped remains as strong as ever, the effect of the acceptance phrase itself wears thin for some people. I have discovered that one of the reasons why the default self acceptance phrase may go flat, if it does – and remember that it may retain its vitality for many people – is that a number of users simply don’t have a clear concept of what is meant by “self acceptance”.
What we are seeking to achieve by using the default self acceptance phrase is a kind of unconditional self-acceptance by the person, a way of helping them view their own problems without judging themselves at all. This is an attitude which is extremely rare in our society and because of this I have recently begun adding the following two-word phrase to the end of the default self acceptance phrase, and have found that it is very meaningful to many people, particularly to experienced EFT’ers who may be tired out by the repetition of the same words over and over in their practice of EFT. The short phrase that I add is “without judgment”, and the setup phrase now goes, “I deeply and completely accept myself, without judgment.”
To imagine accepting oneself without judgment is a novel idea for many people, so this sentence seems to have an immediate and profound effect on many of them — it drives home the idea of unconditionally. I have found it particularly useful when severe self-blame or self-put-downs are present–or when a person dislikes their self intensely–or figuratively kicking themselves around the block for something they have done or think they have done. The phrase “without judgment”, added on at the end, can be extremely beneficial in such cases. I would urge you to try it if EFT is either going very slowly or where there is a lifetime of self-dislike and contempt to deal with.
Other times, of course, these additional words are simply not necessary and the self acceptance phrase is excellent in its original form. One is advised to leave well enough alone and simply move swiftly through EFT if the default self acceptance phrase is taking hold without these additional words. In other words, if it’s working, leave things as they are!
Another way of increasing the effectiveness of the default self acceptance phrase, which I sometimes use, is to use it in a protocol similar to my Choices Trio one (see Chapter 3 of the Choice Manual). Clearly the name ‘Choices Trio’ is not appropriate in this case for there are no Choices involved, so when using this format with the self acceptance phrase I refer to it simply as the ‘Trio’. Here’s how it works.
The person does one round of EFT using the negative reminder phrase only (the words that follow “even though” in the set-up phrase), or they do two rounds of this negative phrase in succession if the emotion is very strong, to take the edge off the distress (the standard EFT procedure). Then they do ONE COMPLETE ROUND using the self acceptance phrase only (“I deeply and completely accept myself"), repeating it at each acupoint. Doing this seems to install the positive suggestion with regard to their own self-regard in a very solid way for many people. After that, they do one more round in which they ALTERNATE the negative and positive phrases as they go through the acupoints (see description of the Alternate Phrase technique in Chapter 3 of Choices Manual).
Here is an example of how this works out in practice.
“Dena,” a former client of mine, recently made an appointment reporting considerable distress. She is an excellent grade school teacher, creative, compassionate, and innovative, but has always dreaded evaluations where the school authorities observe her behavior in the classroom. After much EFT work on this issue she now does well when she knows that a supervisor is coming to evaluate on a certain date, but if it is a surprise visit it can still throw her. Recently she received some criticism from the principal of her school in response to a surprise visit and was emotionally crushed by it. It triggered off a self-recriminatory response in her which was an all too familiar pattern.
Dena is a highly experienced EFTer who works with the technique frequently at home, but this time she was so down on herself and discouraged that she had to come in for an urgently needed session. Here is how we handled this problem using the two new strategies for the self acceptance phrase which I have outlined above.
It was easy to formulate the negative portion of her setup phrase — “Even though I am run down and goofed up” is a phrase she really liked because it described her confusion and feeling of ineptness at the moment. When we began formulating the positive part of her set-up phrase it seemed obvious to both of us that what was needed here was not a Choice, which she often uses, but the default self acceptance phrase, because she was blaming herself profoundly and ruthlessly for what was actually a mild transgression (which I was certain the school would overlook in the light of her excellent teaching record). We decided to use, “I deeply and completely accept myself” with the addition of the words “without judgment” at the end. She immediately liked this sentence, and we proceeded.
Dena did two rounds using the Reminder Phrase, “I’m run down and goofed up” at each acupoint —the typical EFT protocol. Then she did one complete round using JUST the phrase, “I deeply and completely accept myself without judgment” at each acupoint. She then followed this by a third round using the Alternate Phrase technique, repeating “I’m run down and goofed up” at the first acupoint, and “I deeply and completely accept myself without judgment” at the next — and back and forth for the complete round.
She was at a 10 (on a zero to 10 distress scale) to start with and had been feeling extremely down on herself. But after one set of the Trio she felt much lighter. She then did another Trio using exactly the same wording, and when she had finished this one she said, “I feel totally different about this evaluation.” And she looked totally different. There was lightness in her demeanor which had not been there before. She still had a seeming virus infection to deal with which was depleting her physically, but her mental self-battering had ended.
Dena took home with her what I usually call a Choices Card, but in this case it had no Choice on it but instead the statement “Even though I’m run down and goofed up, I deeply and completely accept myself without judgment”. As usual, her instructions were to read it aloud to herself before she went to bed each night and again when she woke up each morning, and the rest of the time to just “forget about it”. It worked excellently. Dena was relieved of this issue and one more step was taken in increasing her already mounting self esteem.
These are just a few of the ways you can use the default self acceptance phrase in a flexible fashion that can often bring new life and strength to the time-honored phrase. You may decide to use these variations or invent some others for yourself, but the default self acceptance phrase plays a key role in combating low self esteem and the more we can help it along the way, the better!
EFT Master, Dr. Patricia Carrington