Today, I want to focus on a specific type of therapeutic technique, which is emotionally focused therapy, or EFT. While all therapies need to address an individual’s emotions, EFT focuses on how those emotions impact an individual’s relationships and bonding issues.
It is something I first heard about from my therapist. Because of my impostor syndrome, I feel like nothing I do is good enough. And because of my abandonment issues, I fear that those I love will leave me. And together these unfortunate thought patterns generate anxiety and insecurity.
As a result, I often react to criticism with either fear or defensiveness. This is derived from my flight or fight response going awry.
For example, if my boss criticizes something, I immediately fear I am going to be fired, and seek to escape the situation as soon as possible before said firing can happen (i.e. flight). But if it is friends or family who criticize me, that insecurity will likely trigger an assholeish sense of defensiveness that almost always makes the situation worse.
This happens because I am not mindful of my emotions. I may know I am anxious, but because I haven’t identified the source of the anxiety, I am not ready to face the criticism, and thus respond with the fight or flight response I described above.
And it is a disorder of thought processes that feeds on itself, multiplying in the darkness. Mindfulness, which is an important part of what I am working on with my therapist and an important part of EFT, can interrupt those negative thought patterns.
This happens when I identify and de-escalate my emotions. With criticism for example, it is almost never meant as a direct attack, but rather an opportunity for me to grow. As I get better at this, I will become better able to regulate my emotions, which is the second step of EFT. Finally, identifying and regulating my emotions will allow me to transform them. So, going back to the example of criticism, someday I will be welcoming of criticism instead of defensive.
Steps of EFT:
1. Identify the emotion and deescalate
2. Regulate the emotion
3. Transform the emotion
It is a hard process. I am often lacking in the mindfulness practices that I need to make this therapy practice a success. But recovery isn’t a straight line, and when I slip, I have learned to accept such failures, learn from them, and move on. It’d be great if I could apply that acceptance to other areas of my life, but for now that accomplishment is something I can hang my hat on.
I hope you, reader, have found management strategies that work for you, but if not consider taking a look at EFT. While I’ve provided a brief overview along with my experience, everyone is different when it comes to mental health therapies, and there is a lot more to learn about if you are going to decide if EFT techniques are right for you. If any of the things I discuss on this site resonate for you, it might be worth discussing them with a professional who can help.
And as always, thanks for reading.