By Alina Frank
Marla wanted to work on her extreme self-loathing. She told me it affected every part of her life from being unable to feel comfortable in social situations to her ability to ask for a raise to her insecurities around her sexuality.
She knew that she didn’t like herself and whenever she came across a new age/self-development tenet on loving yourself as the key to happiness it only made her angry.
We all think of these concepts as lofty and amorphous, but they can be quite literal. This is how I started my work with her: I asked her how she felt when looking in the mirror.
I often ask that question of my clients.
They describe the feeling of not loving themselves and the usual answer is about their butt, or their thighs, or their stomachs. What I got from Marla was the worst case of this problem I’d ever heard. “I hate every part of myself when I look in the mirror,” she replied. Just to confirm her answer, I asked, “Isn’t there one thing that you like or love about yourself?” She said, “I don’t love anything,” and after a moment of deep thought. she continued, “Well there is one small dimple on my right check that I like.”
We had our work cut out for us.
Over the following months, we worked on how she hated her face, on how she hated her body clothed, and finally on how she hated her body undressed.
I can’t stress enough the importance of being specific.
In EFT trainings, we ask the students to ask themselves if they are indeed being specific. Is there a who, what, when, and where? When working on disliking the body the “when” is now, the “where” is there when the client is doing the tapping in my office or at home, the “what” is the exact body part, and the “who” is the client.
Luckily, generalization (a process in EFT when many aspects collapse at once) took place and we did not have to tap on every single area Marla disliked.
She went from avoiding the mirror to being neutral about looking at herself to finding that there were parts of herself she really could enjoy. This simple yet profound process transformed Marla’s life. As a side note, Marla lost weight in the process, but for her the greatest change was her ability to go confidently into the world as herself with her head held high.