One of the biggest blocks for beginning tappers is using the setup phrase, “Even though…I love and accept myself.” Sometimes we just don’t believe it. Sometimes it is painful to think of how we don’t love and accept ourselves, and because of this we don’t spend time tapping.
In this interview I chat with Steve Wells about the idea of self acceptance. During our conversation I quickly came to realize that Steve and I see acceptance and resistance in the same way. We talk about Steve’s own (continuing) journey to self acceptance, how he made significant progress using a simple 30-day process, and how moving towards self acceptance heals many other issues in our lives.
(Full transcript below)
Guest: Steve Wells
Contact: web @ EFTDownunder.com
About Steve: Steve Wells is an international leadership coach and peak performance consultant based in Perth, Western Australia. He helps people to overcome the hidden blocks to achieving their goals and getting what they really want from life.
Steve was one of the first to apply tapping to performance enhancement work with elite athletes and to take tapping to the corporate environment. He regularly teaches and consults worldwide with elite sport and business achievers to improve their performance and enhance the performance of their teams.
Steve is co-creator (with Dr David Lake) of the user-friendly tapping approach Simple Energy Techniques (SET) and the unique advanced Energy-based approach Provocative Energy Techniques (PET). He has helped thousands of people through his worldwide personal development and professional training workshops.
Steve is on the faculty of the Curtin University Centre for Entrepreneurship, where he presents to business owners and senior leaders on peak performance and resilience. He is also on the faculty of the Emotional Intelligence Institute. He is co-author of 4 books, including Enjoy Emotional Freedom.
Steve’s programs and presentations are always inspiring, engaging and filled with powerful practical strategies you can use immediately to get better results – with less stress. More information on Steve and his programs can be found at eftdownunder.com and stevewells.com.au.
In this interview Steve talks about a 4 part series on how he moved towards self acceptance. Here are all four parts Self Accptance Series
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH STEVE
Gene: What’s your definition of self-acceptance and why is it significant in the work you do with your clients?
Steve: It’s a big topic. It’s something which we got lead into through our work with doing EFT. In EFT, everybody says the self-accepting statement but as it turns out, we find out that actually helped a lot of people to tune in to non-self-acceptance. It’s kind of this thing that a lot of people are carrying which is the sense of not being good enough in some way. In fact there’s one negative self-belief I would say that if I’m not good enough, that’s kind of like a universal belief that everybody seems to have on some level – that I would call lack of self-acceptance. That lack of self-acceptance comes out in all kind of ways, not just in terms of what we do to ourselves and in terms of how we treat ourselves but also how we treat other people. The old saying what we don’t like in ourselves we can’t project on to others, what we see in others that we don’t like is the disowned part of ourselves. I think ultimately self-acceptance and accepting all the parts of yourself is necessary before you can accept other people. Ultimately, it’s something that’s necessary before you have any kind of world peace. The peace actually starts within our own hearts. I see that that’s a process of opening ourselves up to loving ourselves so that we can love other people. It’s a necessary step for us to have any kind of inner peace as well as outer peace.
Gene: You defined really clearly there what’s it like to not have self-acceptance, so what’s the opposite of that? What does self-acceptance look like then?
Steve: Well, I can tell you what it feels like.
Gene: That would be great! That’s perfect!
Steve: A lot of people know I had a journey with self-acceptance. In fact it’s an ongoing journey. There are always more bits and pieces to this because we seem to have so much stuff that’s hot-wired into us, from childhood and so on. But when I started with EFT myself, I remembered sitting in my office one day. I was not feeling happy with myself and my life and the way things are going. I was sitting in front of the computer and as I would often do, I was typing out the issues. I was kind of putting them, as you do in EFT, into the set-up statement. In the set-up statement in EFT, you say “even though I have this problem, I deeply and completely accept myself”. I took one look at that statement I thought I do not accept myself at all because of having this problem. In fact the problem that I was having which was I was wasting a lot of time, that I should have been doing profound things in the world, I was just playing internet games. I was playing chess against people in India and places like that, and just getting frustrated with myself for wasting my time doing it. Also, I spent so much time in front of the computer I get a sore neck and a sore back and all kinds of stuff. Anyway, I started working on that issue. I thought the issue is not the issue. The issue is my lack of acceptance of my self. That was the first realization. I thought, okay, I started applying the tapping process to the real problem which was my not accepting myself because of having this problem. I set myself an intention to do a 30-day trial of accepting myself no matter what. Right now, I kind of accept myself because of this problem, in fact at the time I was kind of putting these things. As I did the tapping and as I fought them and as I felt them, I would try to put that response in the computer and I could see that in front of me. The first moment I thought okay, I’m going to accept myself even though I have this problem. The reaction was no, I can not accept myself because I’ve got this problem. This problem makes me a bad person. It makes me wrong in all kinds of ways and so on.
Gene: When you say you created a 30-day intention, did you mean that you were going to tap on it for 30 days?
Steve: I was actually going to work on getting to the state where I could accept myself even though I had that problem, the stuff that we say in EFT which doesn’t happen just because we say it. A lot of people seem to think that there’s some magic in the words. It’s not, I can tell you. We don’t actually use those statements anymore. We found that unless we want people to tune in to that particular issue, we found that the set-up statement tunes them into their non-self-acceptance. We would have people saying “I deeply and completely reject myself” which is more true to them than “I deeply and completely accept myself”.
Gene: I’m seeing the exact same thing for sure.
Steve: Yeah. In fact anyone who believes there’s magic in the words can try doing those opposites, and people actually take them quite quickly. They get shifts on their issues much more quickly in some cases, most cases; especially if you do it with humor.
Gene: How over those 30 days did you specifically tap on this idea of self-acceptance?
Steve: I started with whatever was bugging me or whatever I was doing, and I would tap on “I accept myself even though I’m doing it”, then I would have the negative reaction to that. Then, I would take it further. For example, I’m playing chess on the computer and think “Okay, I accept myself even though I’m playing chess on the computer and I shouldn’t be”. The reaction comes “No, I can’t accept myself for that”. So that then, I’m tapping, “I accept myself even if I never want to accept myself for this”. You can keep taking it further and further. Eventually ultimately it blows out. Every problem I had and every encounter I had I actually tapped with the intention to accept myself even if that happened, even if that was true, even if that continued to be true forever, even if I’m still playing on the computer in 10 years time, I’m going to accept myself even if I never give this up kind of thing. That’s kind of counterintuitive because we have this concept “you’ve got to not accept that, you’ve got to fight that” but what you resist persists. You end up setting up a fight between parts of yourself because there’s part of you that wants that. And so if part of you has to be made wrong to make a part of you right, then you still lose.
Gene: One of the things that I find really useful when we’re starting is to tap on the emotional charge that we have about the issue at hand, whatever that emotion is (frustration, overwhelm). And you’re talking about being able to accept myself in that state and starting there before we go to the issue itself.
Steve: Yeah! Now what we end up doing is basically we do the tapping with whatever people are aware of. We don’t try to change it. We are just putting our attention on it. The funny thing is when you put your attention on it and you’re doing the tapping, it transforms. But if you form the intentions that you have to shift it, now you’re setting up this internal fight. It often ends up being this win-lose kind of thing. I didn’t answer your ultimate question because you asked me what does self-acceptance looks like, and during that time, I got some good understanding and some good shifts and I was feeling a bit better but it wasn’t really a profound shift. Three days later I went into the bedroom a bit early, sometimes I do this, I lie there and I’m just tapping. I’m tapping and I’m tapping on issues. I can’t remember now what exactly the things were but it was again, continuing to think of my 30-day trial. When I came up with the idea I’m going to do this every day and I’m going to focus on accepting myself no matter what, my first reaction was I’ll never do that. I wouldn’t lie, tomorrow I will forget or whatever. Then, I did the tapping on “Even though I’ll forget, I accept myself; and even if I forget, I accept myself; even if I don’t follow through, I’d still accept myself”. Anyway, three days later as I was laying there on the bed doing the tapping and holding the intention to accept myself no matter what, every thought and every feeling that came, I held the intention to accept myself even if I was having this thought or having that feeling. I felt this incredible warmth and this incredible life that flowed through me. I have now seen this with clients and experienced it myself more. This is when we release these blockages, we are opening up for energy, I may call it love – it’s the love of the universe. It’s life energy itself that flows through us that’s been blocked from being able to flow because of this resistance that’s been set up inside us. I think there’s one word for all of our problems, it would be resistance. When you release that resistance, then the energy flows through you.
Gene: What’s really interesting there as you described that, I think back to my own personal journey and my work with my clients. It’s almost as if in some cases the issues that we perceive as being big issues that we need to be taking care of and the issues that are in the front of our mind, in some way are almost serving in a distraction away from looking at that self-acceptance issue, the exact same way that I might use chocolate to distract me from my anger or my loneliness or whatever. By creating this big complicated problem and throwing myself into it, I never have to bump into that really deep resistance of “Oh my gosh, this is who I really am, and I need to accept myself in order to be able to work with that and transform it and be it”.
Steve: Exactly, because what we would see happen if someone did the tapping, and I would get over a phobia or an issue or problem, you kind of have a surge of self-acceptance for a little while. Then a little later, there would be another issue for not to accept themselves over.
Gene: Yeah, but the issues are the symptoms of a deeper problem which is the issue of being able to recognize ourselves for who we are. I can also see as you say that, the sense of the resistance exists because it sees that as functional and it’s trying to protect it. I can see how it would be very difficult and distracting for us to be able to tune in to that because the system so preciously wants to protect that point of view.
Steve: Oh yeah! This is ego or the different theories around it but it’s ultimately as we go through life, we create mini identities. Those identities can get triggered and for a while and rule us during that time. Another way of looking at it: every problem has a trance. You get entranced into a problem. You get triggered to go into the trance of the problem. Willem Lammers in Switzerland would say it’s interjected. It’s kind of a split-off. You actually have to split off part of your energy and he said that’s held in three-dimensional space. I really like his theory. He has an approach called Logosynthesis. He uses words, very powerful words that he discovered that help people bring the energy back that they have invested in these identities. We do the same with tapping. Ultimately when we’re not accepting a part of our self, this is a part of our self that was set up to help us deal with something that was overwhelming such as a trauma or whatever in our lives. It was functional at that time. It might not be functional right here, right now but it has a life-saving purpose. Ultimately, it has to be integrated and accepted within us, then it doesn’t need to be a split off part of ourselves, it could be a part of the whole of us. We can accept all parts of ourselves.
Gene: I can almost see that also being in a case where it might not necessarily be coming from a specific trauma but it could just simply be misinformed because of information that we’ve gathered from our loved ones or from the culture at large, where it’s trying to protect us from a perceived danger that isn’t necessarily a real and actual danger.
Steve: Absolutely! It’s at any point and time in our life when we don’t have awareness. The biggest problem of people is actually narrow-mindedness. It’s that we don’t have a wider view. When we bring the tapping to this, it helps us to see things more clearly. I remember my very first client that I used in tapping with, it was such a profound thing because I saw the problem leave her body. I saw, it’s kind of like this ghost lifted off her. The energy came surging back in. She says “Boy that worked didn’t it?” What happened to that lady, she’d had a trauma because her son was threatening to kill her. He’s been very violent with her. The incident we were working on, he’d cut himself and then he wiped the blade off on her arm and threatened to stab her with his knife. She was shaking like a leaf. What was profound about this experience was that when I saw her a week later, she not only stood up to her son and got him to come to heel, she said to him “Look we’re going to live together; we’ve got to work things out”. She says she became relieved that a certain part of her self comes into play, which was needed. She also apologized to him for the parts that she could see that she had contributed to the problem. I thought what a fantastic, wide perspective she now has where she sees the whole thing – her contribution to the problem and his contribution to the problem. She now wants to resolve it.
Gene: When we get clear of resistance, it does that. It helps us to see things clearer. And the thing I think I found is it also helps us to more easily respond from that sense of inspiration that’s inside of us because we can clearly see who we are and what it is. It’s not like “I have to choose towards inspiration”. It’s a natural choice that I’m sure that as she did that and she recognized her own part of that, it wasn’t like she sat down and said “Hmm, I wonder what my part is” but as that clearing came, it came to an “oh, this is what I own in this and I need to take responsibility for it”.
Steve: Yeah! When we’re in a clearer space and we’re not kind of reactive, we’ve cleared a lot of our reactiveness, then we’re free to manifest whatever parts of ourselves that are needed right here, right now.
Gene: It’s interesting as you talked about that, as you’re explaining, I’m thinking back to something that I already do and I haven’t thought about it in these terms, that when I’m working with clients and we bump into an issue, the first thing I have a client do is I have them thank it for being there because it’s functional. It may not be working properly but it’s certainly motivated by something that’s functional, and it’s this idea of acceptance going “I appreciate the fact that I’m angry right now because it’s trying to keep me safe from attack. It might not be a real attack, but I appreciate the fact that it’s trying and I appreciate the fact that it has my best interest involved, even though I don’t necessarily love the outcome that I’m getting in this moment”.
Steve: Yeah! A lot of people are like “No, we’re supposed to be treating this as the enemy. It has to be the problem.” We’re kind of inclined because as you probably know Dr. Lake and I are using a provocative style for certain times. We’re inclined to go with the energy that’s there which might be a negative energy. But then we exaggerate it and then blow it up and enhance it. People are able to see it. It’s outside of them rather than inside them. It’s kind of you have to exaggerate things so people can see the truth.
Gene: You drag it into the light of day. You turn it into a cartoon and discuss it “Oh, that’s what it is, never mind”. Okay, so let’s say that someone who’s listening right now decides “Okay, I want to do what Steve did. I want to take 30 days and I’m going to move towards self-acceptance”. If I’m going to start something like that, how do I go about it looking at positive things, negative things… how do I use tapping to try something like this on my own?
Steve: First of all, I put that into a four-part series which I wrote back in the old days when we were riding on Gary Craig’s newsletter that he had (his EFT newsletter). It’s still on the site which is now being maintained by Dawson Church but we also have it up on our website www.eftdownunder.com. We’re not meant to be doing a plug but if someone wants to go there they can have that as a starting point and they can follow the process. I have mapped out some specific steps but we’ll also talk about those now. Essentially, you set the intention to do some tapping for 30 days on accepting yourself even though you have whatever problem it is. You’re tapping on the problem but you have to tap with focus not on the problem itself and not trying to fix that problem, you’re actually tapping on “I accept myself even if I have this problem”. That’s the same words in the set-up statement in EFT but when you’re tapping with the intention of “I accept myself” then you’re going to have a reaction to the “I accept myself” part which is either yes or no, then you go with whatever comes. Does that make sense?
Gene: Absolutely! Basically what you’re doing is you’re switching the emphasis of the place that we’re focusing.
Steve: Exactly! The focus is actually on the acceptance, not on the problem itself. When I had that experience myself where I kind of had that rush of energy and love and life and everything through my body, I had this realization, a blinding flash of the bleeding obvious they call it, that I wasn’t the problem. In every problem that I have had in my life up until that point, I had made myself the problem. I blamed myself for having the problem. There was a problem and then there was my reaction to the problem, and part of my reaction to the problem was I shouldn’t have this problem. It’s my fault for having this problem. I’m a bad person for having this problem. Now I started to see the problem was outside of me. It wasn’t me. I had been making the problem me, as if that was part of my identity or something like that. Though my problems were still there but they were all out there, not me. I wasn’t the problem. This is another point that people can do some tapping on. It’s almost inevitable when you have a problem that you’re going to blame yourself for having that problem. You can do some tapping on “It’s my fault for having this problem” then you can add the “I shouldn’t have this problem. I’m to blame for causing this problem, etc”. Then you can do some tapping on “I accept myself even if it’s my fault that I have this problem. I accept myself even if I’m to blame, even if I caused it I’m going to accept myself” and do tapping on that. When you do this tapping, the resistance will come up and it gets tuned in for more tapping.
Gene: We’ve taken the basic set-up phrase and we flipped it around. We’ve looked at “Even though I’ve created this, even though it’s my fault I love and accept myself”, and as we work our way through that, each time we do that, emotional charges are going to come forward around that acceptance space, and we tune in to that and we tap.
Steve: You can also identify where you learned that you’re not acceptable, and where you learned that you’re not good enough, and where you learned that you’re responsible for every problem in the universe and so on. And you can do tapping on those events using the basic tell-a-story process or run-the-movie if you’re more visually minded. Then you go through what happened and doing tapping on not just what happened but also your reactions to what happened and the beliefs that you’ve taken from what happened, and the emotions that you have about what happened. Again, you’re tapping with the focus on accepting yourself even if that happened.
Gene: I found a question that’s very similar to that that’s really helpful that that’s really helpful is what proof do I have that this is actually true?
Steve: Yeah! Like how do I know this, who taught me this, where did I learn this; Gary Craig’s brilliant question, where have I felt this before in my life? These are really good ways of identifying things that you can bring up to do the tapping on. The only real value in a specific event is actually if it tunes you into that effect on your energy.
Gene: Right! We need the emotional charge. We need something that’s there. If it’s just a fact of a story that we’re telling from the past, then it’s no different from reading the newspaper. It’s not helpful at that point.
Steve: This is the one area where we would use the set-up statement because it’s about tuning in the issue of non-self-acceptance.
Gene: So as you look at these senses of these parts where we don’t accept ourselves, we’re struggling to accept ourselves, we’re looking for the proof, is it useful or helpful to tune into the flipside of it? Because typically I found in my own life, it’s not that I completely acceptance myself and I completely don’t accept myself. But there are areas of my life where I can look at professionally and go, “I’m really comfortable inside of my own skin” and yeah, I accept myself here. And in my personal relationships, no, I’m not capable and deserving. Is there any value of tuning into the places where that sense of self-acceptance is positive, is something that’s activated, that’s really being lived out?
Steve: Absolutely! You can always tap on positive or negative. You’re always treating the negative, you’re always treating the resistance, but it doesn’t matter which way you go. One of the ways of getting into tapping on allowing acceptance of your positive side, which is our darkest part if you like, the unwillingness to accept our light and to allow that to flow and be in the world. That’s the challenge for all of us, it’s to get over our resistance to accepting that. One of the things that we like to do is for example is to identify somebody that you admire that has all these wonderful traits that you love and do some tapping on that. You’re starting with “They’re all wonderful, they have these wonderful traits. I wish I was like them” to try on tapping on “Okay, maybe I have a little bit of that but not as much as them”, then tapping on “I have that quality as well”. A lot of people have a lot of resistance to that but if you break it down and work through the steps, it can be a real process of realizing the strengths that you do have and that you can manifest because we have all of this.
Gene: It sounds like when you were talking a little bit about your own journey and the initial commitment to do this for 30 days, you talked about the fact that it’s something that’s still in process. I have a feeling that you’re like me, you’re not done yet. You’re still finding places where these things pop up and there’s still opportunity for us to tap on this.
Steve: Of course! People come and say you must be so centred and this and so whatever because of all the tapping. Yeah, if I look back at my life as it was, I was in a lot of prisons that I didn’t even realize I was in. However, there’s always another level. There’s always more. We’re not fully developed. We haven’t realized ourselves yet.
Gene: With all that being said, with those different approaches, if they’re going to hear one thing about self-acceptance and I was going to give it a go, what’s the one thing that you’d want to pass along to someone as they start this journey and trying to use this as a tool?
Steve: Wow, good question. The advice I would give would be the same as Eckhart Tolle. You begin with your non-acceptance. He’s got a statement in his book Stillness Speaks. This person’s coming to him saying “Oh! I can’t accept this” and he says “Well, start there.” “What, accept that I’m irritated and upset?” “Yes!” Bring acceptance to your non-acceptance. That’s where you start. You start with “I can accept that I don’t accept myself”, “I won’t accept that I don’t accept myself”. Go with that. Add the tapping to that and you’ll go to all kinds of interesting places.
Gene: It’s amazing – the power of honest assessment and recognition of where we are. When we do that, then we can see where the real issues are, then we can see where the healing begins, then we can see where we want to go to because we can see where we are.
Steve: Yup, exactly! When we do the tapping, we’re teaching people to go with whatever comes. Take whatever comes. If you’re working with someone during tapping, you work with what’s there and you follow what comes. When you’re doing it with yourself, you tap on “allow the thoughts and feelings to come” and even though you think this must have nothing to do with it, go with it and see where it goes. It will always go somewhere good.
Gene: Cool! Very good! Steve, thank you very much for your time, I appreciate it.
Steve: Thanks! It’s an absolute pleasure.