It was so nice to hear from you guys last week, it sounds like breaking down the Tango resonated with a lot of people. If that worked for you, I would highly recommend signing up for the next EFT Lab. Jennifer Olden and Lillian Buchanan are really who helped make the Tango come alive for me. If anyone lives near Los Angeles, it looks like Jennifer will be doing an in-person EFT Lab on September 16th. Learn more here.
Step 3 - Setting Up The Enactment
OK, so last week we distilled down to the attachment message, and now we are ready for preparing the enactment (Step 3 of the Tango). At this moment, I find it really tempting to rush, because I’m feeling like I’ve just spent a lot of time with Partner A and I want to involve Partner B more. But I’m trying to learn to slow down here and spend just a little more time. I try to pause and assess how Partner A is feeling and how Partner B is feeling, and gauge how intense the emotions are before I decide how I'll support their enactment.
If both partners seem fairly regulated and open, I’ll just ask Partner A to share what they just said with Partner B (with lots of repetition of what Partner A just said). This might sound like:
“Could you turn right now and share that with Jim? That amazing piece you just said about how when you feel lonely and have missed him all day, you do get a little crispy? That that’s when you do that, when you are really missing him and wondering if he misses you too?”
If Partner A is seeming to feel anxious with their vulnerability, I’ll pause and ask, “What would it be like to turn to your partner and share this right now?”
If they say it would be difficult, I’ll unpack that a tiny bit more, but not too long because at this point I’ve spent a long time with Partner A. Then I’ll turn to Partner B and say, “Your lady/guy is feeling pretty nervous about sharing this with you, she’s worried you won’t want to hear this from her. How are you feeling about hearing more about this?” This is where the brilliant Anne Hancock does something I love. She’ll say something like, “Do you even want to hear about this? Are you sure? What if it’s hard to hear?” in a great way, almost like if you were talking to a kid saying, “are you sure you want to try that basketball shot? It looks really tough! I don’t know, it could be tricky!” She really takes her time going slow in these moments and feeling out how the other partner is going to receive the message.
Sometimes the partner will say they are nervous about hearing from the other. And if they do, we can unpack there and go really slow, and find out what makes them anxious about hearing this. I’ve never had it where someone says, “nope, I don’t care what they have to say,” but I’m sure it will happen. Then we could just unpack that feeling if that were to happen (while quietly dying inside and fighting the urge to go create a human shield around Partner A – or is that just me??). There’s actually an awesome clip of this worst case scenario in the EFT Lab where Gail Palmer navigates a really tough situation like the total pro.
If Partner A says they can’t do the original enactment, that’s where we use Sue’s “slice it thinner.” And we ask them to turn to their partner and just tell them that piece, that it’s really hard to tell them this right now. I don’t know about you guys, but I always get a little glee feeling inside when that happens, because it’s one of those moments you watch EFT unfold organically in front of you from the clients. Inside I’m like, “Weeeeee, I’m doing EFT!”
As a newer EFT-er I probably get scared of enactments more so than a master. So my sense of when feelings are high might be overly sensitive. This is definitely a growth edge for me, to see if I can slow down and actually try the Medium Heat enactment. Right now, I just bring over the enactment myself, and don’t have Partner A share. I get scared Partner A will sling a bullet, or go into too much criticism, and totally skip over any vulnerability in the message. Or, I can worry Partner B is still pretty guarded and will not be moved by Partner A’s vulnerability yet. So then I’ll just turn to Partner B and repeat what Partner A said, and ask them how it is to hear that.
I tend to be an over-protector of clients, and maybe miss where they could handle more intensity. Do you all find that you do that, or do you trust your clients more than the average to be able to handle tougher emotions?
The Practice of Emotionally Focused Marital Therapy: Creating Connection (Johnson, Susan M. The Practice of Emotionally Focused Marital Therapy: Creating Connection. New York: Bruner/Routledge, 2004.)
My whole foundation of The Tango and EFT comes from doing the Externship and Core Skills 1-4 with Lorrie Brubacher - you can find her at www.carolinaeft.com
The Tango really came to life for me doing The EFT Lab with Jennifer Olden and Lillian Buchanan - find them at www.theeftlab.com
Much of my learning comes from my awesome supervisor, Felicia Friesen - you can learn about working with her at www.ffriesencounseling.com/couples-therapy/