The 3-2-1 process

Untangling yourself from others

By Roushan Martens

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I've been using a technique lately that I'd like to share.  It's just a slightly different angle on work that others are already doing, but I found it helpful, and thought others might also.

I was listening to a podcast some months ago, and was intrigued by a technique used by Zen Teacher Diane Musho Hamilton. She called it the 'three-two-one of shadow' technique.  This, as I understand it (and this is very brief and inelegant summary!), is a technique based on the idea that what drives you crazy in other people is something denied or causing intensity in yourself.  And that if we can embrace that something, it not only stops irritating us so much in others, but brings us more compassion.
In the technique, you take the person who's driving you crazy or irritating you in some way, and you speak about them in the third person (she/he).  Then you speak about them in the second person (you).  Then you speak about them in the first person (I).

This sounded to me like a powerful technique to shift some stuff, especially with EFT added into the mix, and an opportunity soon occurred when I was able to try it.  I was going to take part in a training session with a local community group, and looking at the leaflet, I thought I recognised the name of one of the trainers.  I thought this was a person with whom I'd had an unfortunate incident over ten years ago.  I thought I'd forgotten it, but when the name came up, surprise surprise, so did a 'whoosh' of emotion.  I tapped for quite some time on all the emotions, and the specifics of the incident, and didn't seem to be getting anywhere.  So, I thought I'd try the 3-2-1 technique.

I tapped around the points in the short cut sequence (without the hand points), adding the liver point (BN), which I find really helpful if there's any anger in the situation, and the top of the head.  I didn't use a set-up statement, just allowing the tapping to enhance the effect of what I was doing.  I began with the '3' part, the third person:

She did this terrible thing to me
And she didn't even care!
She thought it was funny
But it really hurt me
Maybe it was my fault
I did something pretty stupid
But I didn't deserve that
Maybe I was silly to get so upset over it
It really hurt me
And I'm so angry with her
She denied she'd done it
But I knew it was her for a fact
And I'm so angry I couldn't prove it

... and so on, until I felt I'd said all I wanted to say.

And then I tapped around the points whilst I spoke about it in the second person (the '2' part):

You did this horrible thing
It really hurt me
And I know it was you
And I'm so angry that I couldn't prove it
And make you say sorry
You were probably angry too
I'd been pretty stupid and thoughtless
But I didn't mean any harm
And you did, you really hurt me

and then I let rip with some choice expletives, and really began to let my anger out!  I'll spare you the specifics, but I didn't hold back.  It felt extremely good to let myself do this!

And when I felt I'd said all I needed to say there, I tapped around the points whilst speaking about the incident in the first person (the '1' part).  And I really struggled.  I tried to think of what she might say in response, how she might defend her actions, saying things like: 'I didn't know you'd be so upset, I was in a really bad place, I didn't think about others too much around that time, I had a lot of bad stuff going on.'  All guesses, and none of them feeling quite right.  And then, I wondered if I was trying to control the process too much, having this expectation that it would bring me more understanding of this person, and trying to force that to happen.  So I tried something else.  I tried just saying all the same stuff I'd previously said with 'you', but using 'I' – not worrying about trying to get inside this person's head, just changing that one word:

I'm a selfish *****
I really upset you, and I don't care
I do this sh*t all the time
And it makes me laugh
Who cares if you're upset
I hurt your feelings, and I don't give a sh*t

... and so on.
And something really unexpected happened.
I suddenly felt released from all my anger and hurt over this situation – I felt a distance from the situation, and it didn't matter any more.  I realised I didn't feel the need any longer to understand this person – she had her issues, and by acting in a not-entirely-thoughtful-way (I was also accepting responsibility for, and at the same time full of forgiveness for, my own behaviour in the matter), I came into contact with her anger.  It wasn't really about me, it wasn't personal, and finally, I could stop taking it personally. It was just bad luck (and a lesson learned!).
Not what I was expecting to feel at all, but that familiar diminished intensity had finally arrived – success! (Incidentally, it turned out the trainer was not this person at all – I wonder if I would have had more tapping to do if it was her – I suspect so!)

I then tried the technique in practice with a fellow practitioner, who was struggling with her parents (and particularly her father) not valuing her EFT work.  She said what she had to say in the third person – 'he makes me feel small, he's so obsessed with science and not interested in emotions, he doesn't value my work...'.

Then she said what she had to say in the second person. This was for my friend, as for myself, and for most of the people I have introduced to the technique, something quite challenging, and a shift in itself – to vocalise the concerns to the other person, saying 'you', as though they were there. Often we have been too afraid or inhibited in some way to do this, and allowing ourselves to do it as though the person were there can be quite powerful.
And then she spoke in the first person.  She spoke as though she were her father, and knowing him so closely, as I did not the person I'd done the exercise with myself, she was able to say quite a lot.  She found herself saying: 'I love my children and I'm proud of them,' among other things.  Her realisation was that, although it was important to her that he value EFT, the fact that he didn't did not mean he didn't value her.  Suddenly the issue seemed smaller and more manageable.

And this is what has happened each time I have used the technique – the shift into the first person brings a powerful shift in the person's relationship to the other person, and releases them from the issue.  This always seems to happen most powerfully when the speaker gets to the 'I' part of the process.
So, you could use the technique for resolution on sticky issues with people.  There are a couple of other uses I can think of:

1) Use the process to explore your relationship with a client with whom you're 'stuck': speak about them as 'she/he', then as 'you', and then as 'I', whilst tapping.  I plan to try this next time I'm stuck, and I think it will work quite well to help me get a new perspective on the client and our relationship, and have new ideas about how to work with them.

2) Think of someone you really can't stand.  It could be someone you know, someone famous, a character in a film, anyone.  It could also be a group of people.  Speak about them, their behaviour, their opinions, whatever it is about them that really gets to you – as 'she/he (or they)', then as 'you', then as 'I'.  I have experienced quite profound insights about parts of myself that I have been ignoring or suppressing whilst working this way, along with increased compassion for the people who are getting to me, and for people in general.

I've learned (and learned it again, and again, and again!) that the shift you get, as so often when using EFT, is not the shift you anticipated when you were just thinking about it.  So suspend your expectations and see where it takes you!

(This article first appeared on www.emofree.com)


Author's Bio:

Roushan Martens


Roushan Martens is an AAMET Level 3 EFT practitioner, and works in Edinburgh, Scotland.  She uses EFT in her work with Employees of the Scottish Government, clients of a community organisation, and survivors of rape and sexual abuse at a local support centre, as well as with private clients.  She also runs group workshops in emotional eating and public speaking nerves.  She also practices Bach Flower Remedies and massage, and offers approved training in the Bach Flower Remedies.


1 Comment


Marwa A.
Posted February 12, 2012 08:45 AM


This is a great technique. I just came across your article and tried the technique with a situation that came up while I was reading it, and I love the result I got!

I especially love the last part, where you don't try to force yourself to understand or say good things about the person .. this can really be heavy when you're triggered. You do get there eventually, but you don't force it or even say it, you just get there energetically...where you just don't care.

I will definitely try this again for myself, and probably for my clients as well.

Thanks a lot Roushan for sharing this.

Marwa A.


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