As a therapist using EFT, a lot of what’s going through my mind in any given session is what do I catch and stay with, and what do I let pass by me? A lot of content is easy to let pass by, but sometimes I find myself brushing past places I need to slow down and really unpack.
Sometimes when I’ve been with clients for a long time, I can get muddled about this, because I’ve heard so many things repeatedly. Sometimes a bullet and View of Other and the Action Tendency are all mushed together in a comment, and I can brush by when I’ve heard that bullet 100 times. Also, I can get caught in assumption land, where I’m thinking to myself, “of course they can’t believe their partner, it’s still too early in the work …” and I don’t stay and understand what is actually blocking the important message from their partner that deep down they longing to hear.
My supervisor helped me understand the importance of slowing down, and really processing The Block. When someone isn’t able to take in what their partner is saying, what is happening in that block? And here is where going into detail about what words mean for clients, instead of me assuming, is invaluable. I might try to say things like:
Let’s stay here a moment, when he tells you how much he wants to be helping you with this, what happens?
What about this is so hard to take in, or believe?
That makes so much sense, right now it feels impossible to believe those words (validating is key so the client doesn’t feel like you’re questioning them about what’s wrong with them that they don’t just believe their partner)
Reflecting attachment: It’s so hard to believe that they really do want to be in this with you, after all the other messages you’ve received?
Is it hard to trust you are that important to them, that they want to be working on this with you?
So happens inside when you don’t believe them, what is the feeling right now when you can’t believe what they say?
What does that feeling make you do, then?
And that’s how I’d set up the enactment, linking the action tendency to all of this:
Can you share with them, it is so hard, right now I can’t trust that I’m really that important to you. It’s really hard to believe that, and so I do put my shields up and block you out, because I don’t think you really mean it.
And with this, we’re making it more explicit and more clear – here is the impasse right now. It is too hard to trust right now, and that’s totally ok. We’re just sending a clearer message than what happens in the cycle at home, which is probably more like, “Why won’t you talk to me?” “Because you’re a jackass!”
Can you imagine how impactful it would be in de-escalating the cycle, if in that moment at home someone could say, even from secondary emotion: “I can’t talk to you, I can’t trust that you care about me at all. It’s too hard right now.” Their partner would actually understand what they are feeling so much clearer in that moment.
So much of what I’m learning now involves just making things clearer. That really, we have much more emotional bandwidth to stay in certain tough places with our partners when those places are clear.