There is someone at work who drives me crazy, always picking fights and causing lots of disharmony in the office. Changing jobs isn’t really an option for me. Is it possible for me to tap to change their behavior?
photo by Dave Appleby
If you read most EFT websites (especially Gary’s site) you will find a number of accounts of how surrogate tapping has been successful. (To surrogately tap for someone else means to tap on your own body for someone else’s issues and that other person receives healing or relief.) You can even find a few articles on this site which reference situations where patents have tapped on themselves and seen healing benefits in their children.
BUT (and this is a big but) just because we are tapping on ourselves while tuning into someone else’s issue and the other person has a change, it doesn’t necessarily mean that tapping on ourselves is causing a change in another person. Most people who talk about surrogate tapping assume that is the case, but I don’t think the cause and effect relationship is as clear as it might appear on the surface.
I’m not saying they’re wrong, but I recognize another possibility. The alternative theory I’m suggesting links directly to the example that is cited in this question.
I believe the only thing we truly control is ourselves. We can control our thoughts and our actions. Everything else is out of our control. We might act in a certain way expecting or hoping others will act in a predictable way. But these are nothing more than hopes and expectation. There is no certainty.
If we can only control ourselves, and therefore only be able to change ourselves, then how do we explain evidence that surrogate tapping seems to be successful? I believe the answer lies in the fact that we are co-creating our experience with everyone else. To illustrate this let’s look at the example in the question of a person at work who is causing problems.
We Co-Created the Situation
Every relationship we are a part of we are a co-creator of. Relationships aren’t static; over time people – and their thoughts, feelings and actions – change. These strengthen, weaken, or otherwise change the relationships between the individuals.
For example, think of old friends you just aren’t as close to today as you once were. We often say, “We just grew apart.” We mean that one or both of us have changed and therefore the nature of the relationship changed.
This is simply a fact of life, neither bad nor good. Hopefully, we will continue to grow and change throughout our lifetimes. Because of this we are going to have different levels of relationships with specific people at different points in our lives. Even life-long friendships change in nature as the participants in that friendship grow and change over time.
When we recognize this fact we can use it to our advantage. We always have the chance to change our actions and our beliefs. In the process we change our relationships.
This includes relationships we find unpleasant.
Let’s take the person at work who always starts an argument with you. Once we accept that you are a co-creator of this relationship, then you have to accept some responsibility for the argumentative nature of that relationship.
Let’s look at this from your co-worker’s point of view. For this example, your co-worker Joe is very insecure. He starts arguments with people so he can win the arguments and show that he’s smarter than his opponent. He might not be consciously starting arguments with this outcome in mind, but he’s learned from life experience that he always feels better after putting someone down in an argument.
For Joe starting an argument is completely functional because he feels better with every argument he wins. But the only way he can get the outcome he desires is if someone else is willing to argue with him.
If you are arguing with Joe regularly, obviously you are co-creating the situation. Joe knows, on some level, you are game for a fight.
There is nothing you can do to change Joe’s behavior, but you can take control of the situation. You can change the part of the situation you are creating. If you refuse to argue with Joe, an argument can’t happen. If the argument can’t happen then Joe no longer gets what he’s seeking out of the interaction (e.g., the opportunity to feel superior). Because Joe is no longer getting what he wants from the relationship, the interaction is no longer functional for him. Therefore, he will find someone else to argue with.
In the beginning Joe has his need (to feel superior) and the environment (your willingness to push back) in place to meet his needs. When you change your behavior (no longer willing to engage in the argument), you have completely changed the environment. You’re not changing Joe’s actions, but since he can no longer get what he needs in this environment he moves to a new environment (another person) to have his needs fulfilled.
The beauty of this is you have not had to change someone else’s behavior, you have simply changed the one thing you have control over: yourself. When we work from this point of view we are no longer a victim of a situation/circumstance; instead we are taking charge of ourselves – the one thing we CAN control.
Knowing What To Change In Ourselves
Most of our relationships won’t be as cut and dried as the example I ‘ve just given. Most of the time we won’t know other people’s motives and what they are getting functionally out of our relationships. The only thing we are going to know is that we have relationships and interactions that are less than fulfilling and often draining or painful.
The good news is we don’t have to know why others are acting the way they are or what they’re getting out of the interaction. The only thing we need to know is what we find uncomfortable and what we would like to see changed.
This is where EFT enters into the equation. Even if we don’t know what part of ourselves is allowing the situation to be co-created we are going to be able to tap to change ourselves. Either the relationship will become more as we want it to be, or the other person will seek out another person who will accept the old style of relationship.
The first thing we tap on is the emotions we feel. In this case there are a whole host of emotions that you could be feeling from the interaction with Joe. You could feel angry, overwhelmed, or annoyed whenever Joe comes around because an argument is inevitable. You might also be frustrated that you can’t get your job done, that you are being picked on, that you are not in control, and so on. All of these are tappable issues.
The second thing we can do is tap on the fact that we are co-creating this relationship and on some level this interaction must be feeding us as well. Now it might sound silly to say we are creating such a painful situation for ourselves, but I think it’s true. For example, you may feel insecure at work and afraid that if you take on too much responsibility you are going to become overwhelmed and fail. So you allow the fight to happen because it will keep you where you’re comfortable with your responsibilities. In this example the argument is functional for you as well because it is serving this need.
Usually it is very hard to see how difficult relationships that we co-create are serving us. In those cases we can simply tap on the fact that even though part of us is being served, we want to change whatever benefits from our difficult relationships.
The tapping could look something like this:
I am in a relationship that I don’t like…Joe finds a way to start an argument with me every day…I really don’t enjoy it…I wish he would stop…at the same time I am willing to admit that I’m co-creating this relationship on some level…I must be willing to accept my responsibility for the part of the relationship I’m creating…this is hard to admit…but I know the only way I can heal past this is if I admit this fact…I forgive myself for co-creating this relationship…I forgive myself for believing this is serving me on some level … whatever part of me that feels this is serving me can now let this go…I choose to heal the part of me that feels it needs this relationship…I give myself permission to change the way I approach this relationship…I give myself permission to think different thoughts about this relationship…I take back the power to choose a different action in this relationship…I know I can’t change anyone but myself…I know that if I change myself I will change the landscape of this relationship, and then by its very nature the relationship will have to change…I know I can make this change…because all I need to change is myself. [How to use these tapping phrases]
A number of my clients have reported radical changes in their relationships in a very short period of time by doing this two-step approach to tapping on their relationships. I believe the reason this approach is so effective and powerful is because we are taking back control over ourselves instead of hoping factors in the world would change.
So to that end, we have not truly done surrogating tapping for someone else. Even though we are tuning in to someone else, really what we are doing is tuning in to someone else and seeing what is arising in us — that is, our stuff — and we are tapping on our own stuff.
What more info on surrogate tapping: