Enactments – pt.1
Have you been doing enactments with your couples? Having any questions about how, why and when to do them? You’re not alone. Read on…
Enactments are the face-to-face sharing of primary emotions – such as fear or shame. Or needs, like being accepted, loved or seen as ‘enough’; and they’re used throughout the course of EFT. In stage one, when partners begin to access vulnerable emotions, often for the first time, they help facilitate de-escalation. The listening partner sees the sharing partner in new ways, not just demanding or defensive, but hurting.
Enactments prime the pump for moving into stage two, when enactments are not just helpful – they’re the lifeblood of change. Here, partners have broken the negative cycle and share more deeply, and in the moment, their poignant, tender emotions and underlying needs. For instance, a pursuing partner expresses core doubts that she is lovable. With heightening and well-attuned empathic conjectures she is able to talk fromher fear, “As long as I can remember, I’ve felt alone, unseen… unworthy of love. I’ve told myself ‘don’t ask for love, it’s not for you and you’ll just be disappointed all over again’”. The fear? If she shows her need for love, her partner will not respond or may see her as too demanding and difficult to love. She would be devastated. She has a negative view of other – ‘I won’t get a response’ – mixed with a negative of her self – ‘I’m unworthy and unlovable’.
Taking in her fears, the listening partner may struggle at first with this new way of hearing her, “This is so new to me, I’ve never heard you talk this way”, but is drawn in by her vulnerability. The partner is accessible, responsive and engaged – A.R.E. And hearing her in this previously unknown and surprising way, the listening partner responds with acceptance and support to her underlying need to feel worthy of love, and to be loved. She has taken the risk to reach out and share from a place of profound vulnerability and receives assurance and emotional support in return. The bids for connection are clear and the call and response begin to redefine the relationship as emotionally safe, creating a lasting bond. They feel the connection in their hearts and it builds trust and security.
This is the ‘why’ of using enactments. Next time, we’ll look at the ‘how’, including making your enactments powerful and transformative.
Jeff Hickey LCSW Director, Chicago Center for EFT