As a part of growing up we create a number of beliefs or ideas about ourselves. If we are fortunate enough to grow up in a loving and supportive environment we will build a constructive identity; we might think or say to ourselves – I am a good person, I am capable, I am confident, I am worthy, etc.
Many of us however, have managed to learn some unhelpful ideas about ourselves into our own thought processes so that we feel badly about ourselves, limit ourselves and give ourselves a hard time. We might think about ourselves: I am a bad person, I am a failure, I am a disappointment, etc
This extract from a client session demonstrates the Identity Relief process that I use as part of my work to help them free themselves from old identities.
During one of our sessions a client said, in passing, “I am a failure”. I am always on the look out for people's identity beliefs which often start with "I am … "
I asked him to say out loud “I am a failure” and give it a score from 0-10 where 0 is false and 10 is as true as it could be.
He told me it scored 8, describing the feeling that went with this belief as dull, and heavy.
Then I asked him: “How old is the 'I' in 'I am a failure?'” This question helps someone identify the time in their life when this identity belief was formed.
He told me that 4 years old popped into his head.
I asked him to imagine that he could see that '4 year old' younger self out in front of him and tell me what he noticed about him.
Putting the younger self on "the outside" makes it easier to identify the feelings and thoughts that are going on in that very young self and allows us to tap for them.
His first impression was that 'this younger self' was upset and crying. So we used that as the first set-up statement and round of tapping.
“Even though he is upset and crying, I accept him and how he feels”, using “he is upset and crying” as the reminder phrase.
As that emotional charge settled he heard his mother's voice saying “he has disgraced himself” which had quite a lot of emotion attached to it.
“Even though 'he has disgraced himself', I accept him and how he feels.”, using “he has disgraced himself” as the reminder phrase.
Then he heard his mother saying “he let me down”
“Even though 'he let me down', I accept myself and how I feel”, and the reminder phrase: “He let me down.”
I only use the words that the client gives me to tap on, no clever reframing is required – just respect for the client's experience and tapping to take care of the emotion.
After a few rounds of tapping I asked about what was going on in that younger self.
He replied that his younger self felt 'bad', as in: he is a bad boy.
“Even though he feels bad, I accept him and how he feels", using “He feels bad.” as the reminder phrase.
After a few rounds of tapping I asked him what was going on now. He told me that his younger self was completely calm.
Now we added the compassionate acceptance to that younger self which was missing when he had those original experiences. Distress not a good state to be in if you want to make accurate assessments of what's going on. Compassionate acceptance at the time would have soothed that stress and allowed a more balanced view of his experience.
I invited my client to remember a time when he felt compassionate acceptance for another person or animal. When he had the memory I invited him to settle into it and tune into the feeling of compassionate acceptance that went with it.
When he had that feeling I invited him to let the feeling flow down his arm into an upturned palm. He opened his right hand palm up.
I asked him to imagine that feeling of compassionate acceptance pooling in the palm of his hand.
I said “If that compassionate acceptance had a colour what would it be?”
I said “Great! Imagine that pool of blue compassionate acceptance grows into and forms a bubble of compassionate acceptance.”
I gave him a few moments to do that.
“When that bubble of blue compassionate acceptance is just the right size allow it to float off your hand and over to that younger you so that it completely covers and surrounds him in blue compassionate acceptance.”
I gave him a few moments to do that.
“Imagine that the blue compassionate acceptance is completely surrounding and bathing that younger you, washing through him and doing what compassionate acceptance does … and even if you don't know what it is doing you will know when it is done … “
After a little while, where he was obviously processing, he told me that his younger self was laughing, smiling and giggling within this blue bubble. A very different picture from when we started.
I invited my client to bring this younger self back into himself. He imagined that younger self moving back into himself and settling in. Since we externalised that younger self for the tapping and compassion bubble we needed to bring that younger self back in.
When he had done that, I said:
Invite that younger you to grow up taking advantage of all the wisdom and experience he has had since he was 4 years old. Since the repertoire of a 4 year old for handling the vicissitudes of life is somewhat limited, we need to give the younger self the opportunity to take advantage of everything they had learned since the age of 4.
He took a few moments to do that.
I then asked him to say out loud “I am a failure” – it had no charge for him at all, it just sounded like a collection of words.