“Learning too soon our limitations, we never learn our powers.”
— Mignon McLaughlin
If you love books, here’s a funny piece I wrote in the hot summer of 2018, in our tiny hot-as-an-oven flat in London. This story illustrates the point I want to make today: Coming at our problems from a strengths perspective can be profoundly helpful.
I love working with my clients with both EFT and CliftonStrengths
How so, you might ask?
Usually, if we have a problem or challenge, we are usually already so aware of the whole thing. We know allll about the effects, the symptoms and impact, the pain/discomfort we experience, and even how it impacts those around us.
Usually, after living with a problem for a while, we end up with not only that problem but also some layers that we’ve packed around it. And the thing grows and grows…
Here’s an example:
Let’s say a client’s problem is that they have a dream (to have a healing practice helping others, or lose some weight, or start doing some exercise) but they’re not doing anything about it.
This is a very common complaint. “I have this dream, but I’ve turned into a procrastination champion!”
Can you relate?
Let’s call that, in a nutshell, ‘the problem’.
We have, through years of programming, many layers packed around the problem. Some we might be conscious of, and others are under the surface. All of them were acquired somewhere in our life, and we can call them ‘limitations’.
They limit our ability, desire, and motivation to do something about our problems. A problem is usually a symptom of underlying root issues.
Conscious thoughts or beliefs might be:
- I’m a failure because I’m not doing anything about it (noticed how hard it is to start with anything when we feel like a failure?)
- I’ll never succeed anyway so why even try (chopping off our legs before we’ve even started)
Unconscious thoughts or beliefs might be:
- What if I’m judged, criticised or publicly humiliated? I’ll just stay safe and rather not doing anything to risk that painful feeling.
- What if I get into trouble or there’s a legal case against me? It’s far too risky to have a business.
- What if I get unwanted attention again when I lose weight, like that time in the past? It’s not going to work out well, so I’d rather stay the weight I am.
Though we’re mostly not consciously aware of it, the last 3 examples stem from events that did happen to us in the past.
Our brain keeps track of those events that felt unsafe, and warns us in countless ways to not make the same ‘mistake’…. And then moving forward towards our dream becomes virtually impossible. Some people might call this self-sabotage, and I call it protection for good reasons.
EFT for Limitations
All these limitations are exactly what we work with in an EFT session. As we tap, we might suddenly become aware of a memory we had not thought of in years… and we’ll then take the emotional sting out of that memory with some targeted tapping.
That means, we work with the painful bits about that memory in very safe ways — stimulating certain stress-relief points helps to clean out the emotional charge about it. That includes all the meanings they gave the event — which ultimately cause our limitations.
Meanings are things like ‘My mother looked at me with that critical raised eyebrow — and as a 10yr old in my world, it meant that she disapproved of me. That means ultimately, I’m unlovable’.
We do this very much unconsciously at the time.
The meanings we’ve given events are often untrue — yet we live by them as if they’re the gospel truth.
So that’s the one part of the work I do: we use EFT to remove, soften, delete, and change the limitations we’ve acquired all through our lives.
How does knowing our Strengths help?
Where in the world do you ever hear about your strengths and how amazing you already are? (And if that made you cringe, it’s a clear sign you really do need to meet your own strengths!)
Do you realise there are things you do with amazing ease and joy, that are awfully hard for others? Those bits you don’t even have to think about because they’re as easy and natural as breathing… Yet, there are hundreds of thousands who struggle with that exact thing. The challenge is — you may not realise this because it’s so completely normal for you, and you assume it’s easy for everybody.
We usually hear ad nauseam about the things we should improve. Our families, partners, colleagues, we ourselves are quick to point out our flaws and the ‘growth opportunities’. At work, we have those areas we dread to hear about in performance reviews. Or we have yet another argument with a spouse about that thing we do, that we’ve already talked about a hundred times, yet we can’t seem to change our behaviour.
Do you know how life-changing it is to work through the annoying or painful bits of the past while being aware that you also have Strengths and are in fact, already an amazing person?
Here are some benefits I’ve seen when people can name their unique Strengths:
- They stop thinking they have nothing to offer.
- They feel more confident because they know they don’t have to be able to do everything. They’re confident in the areas of their strengths, and that’s enough.
- They stop comparing themselves quite so much with others, and instead, make the most of what they have.
- They move in the direction of liking and respecting themselves (sometimes a lot) more than before.
- They relax into being themselves. They breathe a sigh of relief.
- They start having more compassion and understanding for their own behaviour, and that of others. Relationships can improve.
And yes, a few more…
- They deal with challenges in more resourceful ways, because they understand which strengths they can use in those situations — and get help from others who have strengths they don’t have.
- It’s easier to face and heal the difficult emotions and situations from the past — because they don’t solely see themselves through an “I’m a horrible failure” kind of lens.
- Knowing their strengths gives clients deep insights into their patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.
- They know what they can realistically expect themselves to stop doing. Sometimes, they’ve been trying to ‘tap away’ or stop a behaviour that is, in fact, a strength not yet well-applied (or well-managed). To try and stop a strength from showing up is a futile exercise and will keep leading to feelings of failure.
I’ve been blending EFT and Strengths for 7 years. It is so much easier to work through the limitations if we also know our unique superpowers.
I love being able to remind my clients of that. I might hear a client judging themselves for something they’re doing ‘yet again’. It’s so empowering to remind them it’s actually something that is a natural strength for them — and what needs to happen is to find healthier ways of managing it, rather than eliminate the behaviour altogether.
An example from my own life about Avoiding Conflict
I used to judge myself fiercely for avoiding conflict. I tapped and tapped (with EFT) for my fear of it, and couldn’t understand why the tapping wasn’t turning me into an Activist on the front lines of disagreements. Was tapping not working for me? Was I doing it wrong, or not working deeply enough?
After I discovered my Clifton Strengths, it all made sense. I’d never turn into that Activist.
My strengths love peace and harmony and I’d never enjoy conflict. But what I didn’t know yet, was I had a special ability to create win-win situations. If I added some new skills, I could become a very effective mediator in difficult situations or relationships. My many relational talents lend themselves remarkably to that — but I’d never have thought of that before. I thought I was just a weak girl without a spine, who couldn’t deal with conflict. (Yep, people can say horrible things to us!)
Truly, finding my strengths gave me a completely different perspective of my potential.
And so it has done for every one of my clients… when we discuss their strengths, there are eye-opening moments of insight, relief, and often tears.
I’ve heard so often “You mean I’m not crazy?” or “You mean I’m not a horrible person for being this way?” or “I can’t believe I’m actually a nice person, I feel so good now!”. It brings me deep joy that they can start seeing the beauty and gifts in their strengths, rather than carry the weight of self-judgment.
Yes, EFT and Strengths are a powerful combination.
The truth is we all have limitations that can be cleared away lovingly with EFT tapping. And another truth is that we all have unique and wonderful gifts, talents and strengths. I love that it’s possible to have both.
And that means, the quote where we started:
“Learning too soon our limitations, we never learn our powers.”
“Clearing our limitations and learning our powers!”
And how does the Facebook story of ironing my library books in a hot kitchen relate to limitations and knowing our strengths?
Well — my talents Learner, Input and Intellection care very much about botoks. My talent of Responsibility would never send a book back to the library in a bad state. That darn hot kitchen was easier to navigate with all my talents solidly supporting me!