The basic recipe in tapping strikes many as truly bizarre!
First, you start off talking about all the mud and muck in your life (for more on that, see this post on ‘what’s with all the negativity?’). Then, you suddenly switch tracks to what sometimes feels like an unattainable goal: complete love and acceptance of your flawed and damaged self.
Are you kidding me? Here I am talking about all my mean thoughts, violent emotions, embarrassing habits. And then I’m supposed to say (and believe) that I completely love and accept myself and all of this baggage? You’re having a laugh!
For many people, this phrase seems the height of fantasy, a pipe dream, something quite ridiculous.
Why love and acceptance?
One part of the theory behind this approach is to counter negatives with positives.
The more you dive into your shadow at the start: ‘Even though I feel like stabbing my boss through the heart…’, the more love and acceptance you need to pull yourself out the other side.
It’s also true that acceptance is a close cousin to both mindfulness and forgiveness.
Through acceptance you acknowledge what is, whether you like it or not. And through acknowledging and accepting it, you can come to terms with it, learn to forgive what is true. Then, perhaps in time, you can learn to love what is true. This is part of the theory behind the relative new-comer to talk therapy: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
From a more research-based perspective, Emily Nagowski, in her seminal work Come As You Are, talks about wisdom being ‘knowing what is true’, and joy being ‘loving what is true’.
Now, it may take time to get there, but the basic recipe in tapping is like a bridge or road map to that destination.
Is this just another affirmation that won’t work?
You might think that, as with affirmations, giving voice to this grand statement of self-acceptance and love is just pie in the sky, which won’t achieve anything. And to an extent you’d be right.
Some people argue that you can ‘fake it till you make it’, and there is some truth in that. If you say something to yourself often enough, you will come to believe it a little more with each repetition.
However, a proviso to that is that if you cannot say those words with even a grain of belief, then it is best not to say them at all.
Your mind might be full of sabotaging thoughts: ‘yeah right!’, ‘come on, no-one believes that!’, ‘are you kidding me!’, ‘I don’t really love myself and there’s no way I’m accepting all this sh*t!’
In that case, say something different!
The world won’t end, and the tapping will still work, I promise.
Toning things down
One approach is to tone down what you say until it reaches believable proportions.
That might look like any of the following statements:
Right here and right now, I can stay present with these emotions.
I’m doing my best under the circumstances.
I accept that this is how I feel at the moment.
I’m basically a good person.
Every day I can accept myself a little more.
Play around with these statements, or think about what the most compassionate thing you could say to yourself right now is, that you can believe. And be open to that changing bit by bit.
A well-known tapping author and teacher, Patricia Carrington suggests a different approach.
She recommends focusing on what you want in your life instead of what you have right now. Once again, make these choices realistic and believable to you.
For example, you might say:
Even though I shouted at my kids this morning, I choose to find better ways to communicate from now on.
Even though I am furious at my partner for laughing at my new haircut, I choose to focus on what I like about them.
Even though fear is making me jumpy and stressed, I choose to think about what is good in my life.
Even though I feel like weeping, I choose to breathe deeply and stay present.
Making choices is empowering, and you can choose a better path than one you know is going to lead you to a dark place. While you might not always succeed in achieving your goal, just the fact of thinking about it and working towards it will move you in the right direction.
The Heart of the Matter
While ‘love’ is often seen as being a bit wishy-washy or unscientific or self-serving, the Heart Math Institute would argue that it is actually vital to your well-being.
There is now a large body of evidence that ‘loving’ emotions like kindness, caring, compassion, and forgiveness are good for your health. Their effect can actually be measured on your heart rate variability, a data point that correlates with an ability to make good decisions, and to have a healthy heart, with less risk of heart disease, stroke and numerous other modern ills.
It is fascinating to see how balancing out your breath can bring your heart rate variability into a smoother, more even pattern. And then how focusing on positive emotions can boost that positive pattern to far higher levels!
With the wonders of modern science, as found in the Inner Balance sensor, the Welltory App, or the HRV data from an Apple Watch, you can witness these changes in your own body, in real time.
Loving acceptance of self (and others) really is a valid and important goal, and one that you can work towards and actually see the effects of. Those effects range from a more positive approach to yourself, your relationships and your life, to an improvement in your overall health.
So, start where you are, use the toned down phrases or the choices approach, and work towards greater love and acceptance in your life.