Taming the Mind

“You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”
~Albert Einstein~

That quote of Einstein’s has always rung a bell with me. It just makes sense that whatever my mindset was that led me to make certain choices would need to be changed if I wanted to make a different choice. Or, which is more to the point, to clean up a problem that the choice had created.

The problem is that HOW to change your mind to see your way clearly to a better solution isn’t often easy.  The real difficulty becomes apparent when the unconscious mind with its old (sometimes self-defeating or limiting beliefs) teams up with the emotions and creates a real uproar. Imagine a toddler screaming at the top of his lungs while you are trying to make a decision. He may be saying:

Don’t try to get that job! You don’t know enough!
You’d better not ask her/him out!  They won’t like you!
Don’t even try to quit smoking! You’ll never be able to stick it out!
People in our family have never been able to make much money!

Especially when it comes to making life changes, our emotions, particularly FEAR, gets into high gear. And when you consider that different parts of the brain are responsible for different functions, and in a way, “speak different languages,” it seems like a miracle when we pull off meeting our goals.

No matter how stuck in a rut we are, there is comfort in repeating the familiar patterns. In some ways part of our brain functions like any other animal brain. Your dog knows what it means when you reach for the tennis ball on the closet shelf.  He knows just where his food dish is, and where he sleeps and what time of day you come home.

Although you may hate your job, you know how to handle it. Or you may be unhappy in a relationship, but it’s familiar and you know how to negotiate it. And although you are afraid of the consequences of smoking, the thought of going through the discomfort of quitting keeps you lighting up.

The more engrained the limiting belief and the more potent your fear or anger, etc. the more difficult it is to use that part of your brain which is great at imagining a new outcome or solving the problem. Fortunately we all have that rational pre-frontal cortex…the creative, conscious mind. But we have to calm the amygdale, center of emotions, in order to change the limiting beliefs and get to new solutions.

Fortunately there is a method you can use to calm your emotions, change your limiting beliefs and access creative solutions that will serve you. I have been using EFT or tapping for a number of years, and teach it to my coaching and psychotherapy clients. EFT is a scientifically proven acupressure technique that is self administered. It’s simple to do and calms the emotions and reduces stress. In other words, it’s a great way to tame the mind!

Here are some times you may want to consider using tapping:

When feeling very angry or disappointed in someone’s behavior.
When feeling overwhelmed with a big job or something new.
When procrastinating with any task.
When preparing to make a speech or presentation or public performance.
When you are having trouble forgiving yourself or someone else.

You may access information about EFT by clicking on the “Tapping Solutions” widget in the right column on this blog. You may also want to download the free eBook on the website, or order the movie that is featured there. If coaching for EFT interests you, you may contact me through the page at the top of the blog.  I also recommend a  Tapping Into Ultimate Success by Jack Canfield and Pamela Brunner.

I hope you will be empowered in finding solutions to tame your mind and to reach whatever goals you have in your life.

 

 

 

 

The Bitter Bank

“You can’t have a better tomorrow if you’re thinking about yesterday all the time.”
~Charles F. Kettering~

Joan was described by her family members as someone who never forgot a thing that was ever done to her.  If harsh words were spoken during an argument, Joan could recite what offended her years later.  Her brother argued with her during the last election, and Joan still wasn’t speaking to him. Joan was certain that her mother had disliked her and treated her siblings much better, and she admitted that she experienced frequent bouts of depression as she replayed scenes that had been particularly painful to her.  Her husband had forgotten her birthday one year and she would berate him for it when they argued, which was getting to be more frequent. He had sincerely apologized to Joan, but even though she said she accepted it, she still brought the incident up.

Joan has a Bitter Bank, and her account is quite full.

Do you? Many people have a large catalogue of past hurts and painful experiences that they drag around with them. Some are more than willing to tell you about them. Some wear them like a badge of identity. And then some are very quiet about their “Bitter Bank balance,” even though they are preoccupied by it. You may recognize these folks for their chronically unhappy or angry demeanor.

Some other signs of a full Bitter Bank may be a frequent use of sarcasm, hiding behind humor while delivering a verbal knife through the ribs to someone else; frequent sighing; passive aggressive behavior such as “forgetting” appointments  or agreements with others; frequent and inappropriate references to the painful past; arguments about the same themes that never get resolved; self destructive habits or relationships that repeat the same patterns over and over again; repeated “hobby horse” rants that go on and on about the same theme. As you may guess, it is common for Bitter Bank account holders to suffer from depression, or anxiety as well as strained and broken relationships.

If you recognize yourself as a Bitter Bank owner, please read on.  This is not just unpleasant for you and for the relationships in your life. Holding onto bitterness is hazardous to your health!

Have you noticed how much time and attention you are giving to these resentful thoughts and scenarios?  If you’re waking up in the night and recounting your grudges and grievances, then it’s too much. If you hear yourself complaining frequently about being treated badly or of past abuses, it is taking up a lot of space in your head!  If you have emotional replays in your mind of “what I SHOULD have said or done, then it’s too much.

Once I was approached by a salesperson that was representing a rehab facility and introduced himself as a childhood sex abuse survivor.  I was shocked that such a personal and painful disclosure was the first thing he told me about himself.

And recently on a social media site I was contacted by a woman whose entire online identity is build around the experience of her husband cheating on her. Nothing like making your wounds into a name tag.

The danger of all this negative focus is that it keeps reinforcing to yourself and to others that you are a helpless victim.  Victims have no power, no responsibility and no real impetus to change anything. What happened to them is someone else’s fault, and the more we hammer the point and relive the painful occurrences and repeat our beliefs that this SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED, the more solidly we believe ourselves to be victims. This practice will fill your Bitter Bank, and harm your life.

What to do? Denying your pain is not the answer. You do need to acknowledge what happened and to allow yourself to feel the emotion connected with it.  In other words you need to let the feelings be as big as they are. Notice in the front of your body (not your head and extremities) where the emotion registers.  Is your throat tight? Is there a lump? Is your chest heavy or tight? Does your stomach have a knot? Or does your abdomen feel tight?

Focus on that spot, and breathe in through your mouth.  As you exhale allow your body to relax if you can. Continue breathing and give yourself permission to feel it fully by asking “Can I feel this fully?”  You may find yourself thinking, “Hell no!” which is okay.  Don’t resist it or “try to get rid of it.” Acknowledge the feeling and continue to breathe. Ask “Could I release it?” If your answer to that is NO, that’s okay. Just continue to breathe and let it be.

As you repeat the exercise, the answer to “Can I release it?” will be followed by “If not now, then when?”  Sooner or later, you will give yourself permission to release it. That does not mean that you are denying what happened.  It just means that you are willing to release your tension and stress about what happened. This is a variation on a well-known program called The Sedona Method.

Another approach, which I frequently reference, is The Tapping Solution.  It is very effective in releasing negative emotions and clearing the way for positive change in your life.

You are ready to shift your focus from what has wounded you to something else.  I suggest a second practice that will aid you in improving your health and happiness. And that is to focus on gratitude by writing a gratitude list, at least one time a day.  It sounds simple, and it is.  Nevertheless, naming the things that you appreciate and are grateful for has been shown to have great benefits. Don’t forget to include yourself on that list!

Emptying your Bitter Bank is the first step in the process of forgiveness, about which we will be writing future blog posts. Often forgiveness is considered a spiritual matter, and it is. But in a holistic sense, it also concerns us psychologically and physically. When we learn to practice it, our health and happiness take a big turn for the better!

 

Facing the Lion

“Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.”
~Anais Nin~

The events of the past week have provided an opportunity for me, as well as several million other people, to face fear and to observe how we deal with it. Hurricane Sandy, combined with a low flowing jet stream, created what some dubbed a “Frankenstorm” of gigantic and devastating proportions.

I must confess to being somewhat of a cynic about weather reports that are full of drama. It seems that even something as usually mundane as the weather has to bring in advertising dollars.  And on the local level, nothing very exciting has happened for months.

So when news of this threatening weather system began to build, I was not giving it much credence. It wasn’t until a friend suggested that I look at NOAA, the website for the National Weather Service, that I took notice.

After seeing that something certainly was brewing, and heading directly toward the mid-Atlantic, I turned on network news.  As I watched, I noticed that I was becoming increasingly anxious and alarmed.  Predictions of flooding and high winds brought back memories of hurricanes past, and some that really were devastating in terms of lives lost and property and environmental damage.

Talking with friends and family convinced me that I wasn’t the only one listening to the predictions, declarations of states of emergency, instructions for storm preparation, and making plans for coping with the worst. As I ran errands to buy supplies “just in case,” I found that many other people were on similar missions. Before the first drop of rain fell, shelves holding bread, water, batteries and flashlights looked like they had been raided by a proverbial horde of locusts.

When the wind and rain arrived, I was as prepared as I could be.  And I was also feeling pretty anxious. As it turned out, the worst thing that happened here was that I was without power throughout the evening until mid-morning the next day. The house was very quiet. Talk about being unplugged! I read my library book by flashlight (batteries had been on my list) and the place looked much warmer than it felt by candlelight.

Although some parts of the coast were hard hit and have sustained serious damage, my neighbors and I dodged the bullet. There will be some cleaning up to do, and some areas are still without power. Our lives will soon return to normal.

In thinking about fear and the power that it sometimes has in our lives, it’s easier to identify it when forces outside of us are threatening.  What I realized is that really it’s the thoughts that we have about those forces or circumstances that either build up the intensity of emotion, or dispel it.  Thinking of all the “what-ifs” sounds the alarm!  Imagining the worst causes stress hormones to course through your veins, even when the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

In facing fear, whether it is being evoked by weather reports or our own frequently visiting “inner demons” (usually habitual thoughts from the past), we need to face them squarely.  Ask yourself if there are concrete steps to take in order to ensure the best care possible for you and those you love. If so, make a list and do them immediately.  If not, then chances are you have a bad habit of negative thinking that has stirred up fear.

Give yourself what I call “Emotional First Aid” by taking 5 deep breaths and relaxing your muscles as you exhale.  Repeat throughout the day, as many times as you can think of it. Do a reality check with someone you trust and try to reframe your thoughts, or see them in a different light. You can also use EFT, a proven, effective method for releasing stressful emotions.

What really matters most in facing the Lion of Fear is that you are not avoiding it. Taking action will build your strength and resolve as you move forward through the challenges of life.

Photo: “Hurricane” by Victor Habbick

Tip for Building Self Esteem: Appreciate Yourself

 

“There is that part of ourselves that feels ugly, deformed, unacceptable.
That part, above all, we must learn to cherish, embrace, and call by name.”
~Macrina Wieder Rehr~

 

In other blog posts I have written about the power of gratitude and how practicing gratitude by writing a daily list of those things that have occurred or that you noticed that evoke appreciation, will help build optimism.  There is a solid body of research that indicates that when we practice gratitude, our health improves.  People suffering chronic disease feel less pain and show improvement in their symptoms when they are able to see what they have to be grateful for instead of staying focused on pain and fear.

Many of those who are experiencing depression or anxiety will find that as simple as it may sound, developing a habit of recognizing what is going right is a great antidote to their unhappiness. 

Recently I had occasion to reflect on how much low self esteem and a lack of confidence seems as prevalent as the common cold when it comes to human emotional ailments.  Sometimes we are clearly aware of this condition that is underlying another problem.  Getting over the loss of a relationship, for example, is made more difficult because our self esteem usually takes a hit, no matter what the circumstances of the breakup might be.

In fact our failures or our fear of failure may keep us paralyzed because what is hurting is our self esteem.   Really it isn’t failure that is the problem.  Failure can be a great teacher, and if we care to ask ourselves the hard questions, we learn much more from failure than we do from success.  But no one enjoys failing.  And children often hear negative messages at home and school when they fail a test or task.  This is unfortunate, especially when self esteem suffers for the long term.

So many of us may be in recovery from an injured or hurting self esteem.  The good news is that we can change this and become more effective and confident human beings. The key to building your self esteem is to take note of every good thing that occurs, and most importantly, those positive things that you make happen during the day.  It is perverse that we tend to remember the negative, frustrating or difficult things that happen, more than the good ones.

I often remind clients to write a daily gratitude list and to be sure to put their action steps or positive qualities on it.  For instance when someone gives you a compliment, be gracious in accepting it (a simple thank you will suffice!) and make note of it.  Take time to relish and appreciate it. 

Any action step, no matter how small, needs to be acknowledged by you.  Often we want recognition of our hard work or accomplishments by someone else, whether it is a spouse, boss or parents. We are often disappointed because no one seems to be paying attention, or the acknowledgement doesn’t come in the way we would like it.  Rather than putting your self esteem eggs in someone else’s basket, so to speak, take care of them yourself.  Write it in your gratitude list and share it with someone you care about. 

Take some time to develop a healthy sense of pride in you and your accomplishment.  This is an effective antidote to theshame of not feeling good enough or acceptable.  Remind yourself daily of your goals and express confidence in your ability to reach them.  Acknowledging those small steps will build your self esteem faster than you might imagine. 

 

A Day of Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Several folks have told me this week that they woke up feeling awful or anxious or something else negative.  And that it was downhill from there for the rest of the day.  Not that unusual a conversation starter in my line of work.  And then I had a day like that myself…first time in a long time.

By 10AM I was well mired in doom and gloom, and then by 10:15 asked myself what was up with this?  Several things occurred to me.  Asking that question pushed me into Observer Mode rather than Reactor Mode.  One thing was for sure:  I was in the midst of doing some stinkin’ thinkin’ which was responsible for my glum mood and low energy.

This is how it works; it’s a big chain reaction in which one event gives rise to the next, and on and on, over and over again throughout the day.  Or a few minutes if we are paying attention and intercede.  Or a week, month, year or lifetime if we don’t.

  • The Trigger Event is something that occurs outside of us; something that we generally have no control over.
  • The Trigger Event in turn brings up a Thought.  There are times when an emotion is instantly triggered, but it’s usually a thought.
  • Emotion is then shaped by the thought.  And these two factors, thought and emotion can go back and forth either strengthening the emotion or bringing up different emotions.
  • Behavior comes next.  We choose a behavior and this is the point where we have all the choice in the world, as well as the responsibility for whatever we do.
  • Consequence is the last link in the chain.  There is always some kind of consequence to the behavior that we do, and while we may predict it, the full consequence is out of our hands or control.

Here is an example of how this chain works.  Robert is getting ready for work and half watching and listening to a morning television show while he dresses.  He hears some bad news about the national economy (Trigger Event).  His immediate thought is something like, “Things are just getting worse everywhere!  What’s the use?” (Thought).  This in turn evokes feelings of fear and helplessness (Emotion).  He goes on for awhile thinking more along these lines until his emotions are amplified.  By now he is taking this personally and wondering when his own job might be terminated, probably without notice.  When his wife comes into the room to ask about when she should ask for time off the vacation they have planned, he curtly replies that she should forgot about a vacation this year; they can’t afford it!  (Behavior).  His bewildered wife asks why on earth he is saying this since they have saved for the vacation, and all their expenses are already covered.  An argument ensues and as they both drive off to work, they both feel angry and frustrated. (Consequence).

If you were to ask Robert what was wrong, he would likely tell you about the news event, how it “made him feel”  and go on a rant about how bad things are and how he wouldn’t be at all surprised if his employer would lay him off at any time.  As he sees it the bad news is responsible for his bad mood and it doesn’t help that his wife “just doesn’t get it.”  Her head is obviously stuck in the sand or she would be ready to cancel their vacation too because it is a frivolous waste of money, in light of how bad things are.

If Robert were aware of his own thought-emotion chain, he could see that he is reacting to the news story and that he has other options.  There are no doubt many other people who saw the same news story and had very different reactions to it.  It isn’t the trigger event itself that causes Robert’s misery; it is his thoughts about it that are responsible.  If he becomes aware and challenges his thoughts, beliefs and assumptions, it is possible to have a perfectly fine day, be in a good mood and continue planning the vacation with his wife.

When you hear yourself make comments such as, “You make me really mad!” or “You make me really happy!” or “So-and-so is driving me crazy!” or “Such and such made me worry all day,” pay attention because you have just zipped down the Trigger Event-Thought-Emotion-Behavior-Consequence chain of events.

The truth is that no one and nothing can “make” you feel anything.  Each of us is responsible for the emotions we feel and what we do with them.  If the responsibility seems daunting, when you challenge yourself to pay attention and change them, you will feel much more empowered.  And isn’t that what we are going for?

 

Dealing with the Nitty-Gritty

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then,
is not an act, but a habit.”  ~Aristotle~

The other day a woman was telling me about her husband, who surprised her by announcing that he was going to clean the house.  Not something that he typically does…or ever does, according to her.  She had errands to run, and when she returned to the “cleaned” house, she saw that he had pushed everything to the perimeter of the living room and vacuumed the middle of the floor.  And he called the job done.

We chuckled about this novel approach to house cleaning, but it occurred to me that it serves as a metaphor for life.  And that probably if we care to take a peek into our own dark corners, we will likely find something akin to the husband’s method.

This morning I was looking around the office that I occupy, and when hunting for a file I need, was amazed to find all sorts of things that I jammed into folders thinking I would use it someday.  Needless to say, I haven’t.  There is a pile of paper in my “in basket” as well as in my “out basket.”  (Would someone please remind me of how this organizational tool is supposed to work?)  And I have to admit that I am behind in posting financial information that I will need for tax time.

But the middle of the floor is clean!

We do this in the figurative sense as well as the literal.  “The devil is in the details,” as the saying goes.  Those things you are procrastinating about have a way of piling up.  How long have you thought about increasing the vegetables in your diet?  Or making an appointment with the dentist?  Or taking courage in hand and joining a meeting or group that you think would be interesting?  Or meeting with a financial planner?  Or having a conversation with someone that you are afraid might be touchy?

You can go on about the daily round of your life (the middle of the floor, so to speak) and not think too much about what you are pushing to the perimeters of your life.  But those nitty-gritty details seem to speak to us.  Sometimes in dream time, and sometimes in vague mounting anxiety or dread.  Or sometimes someone else will bring it up, or a deadline is looming and you know it’s time to pay the piper.

Know this:  some sort of resistance is at work here.  And we all have to contend with our resistance.  Perhaps it is an outdated negative belief that you hold.  Perhaps it may be some shame or embarrassment that you haven’t tended to it before this.  Or maybe the energy required to overcome inertia seems too much.

When you face it squarely and ask yourself what is up with this? (and take the time to listen to the answers) you will discover the root of your resistance.  And when you do that, you are on the way to rooting it out and overcoming it.  Use your journal to clarify your insight.  Use Meridian Tapping or EFT to resolve and release the emotion and limiting belief that is stopping you.

You really don’t have to limit your success or happiness by hanging onto the burdens of negative belief.  Affirm the kind of human being you want to be; clarify your intentions and then with courage take the baby steps every day to love your life fully.

 

Releasing Pain

Do you have any physical pain in your body on a regular basis?
If so, how do you think it limits your enjoyment of life and what would it be
like if it were gone?
I want to share a great resource with you today, something that if you’re in
any kind of pain right now, can dramatically change the quality of your life for the
better.
It’s a video on how you can use EFT Tapping right now to eliminate physical
pain.
If you experience any kind of pain in your body whether if be long term chronic
pain, pain from a recurring sports injury, or just a pain that popped up yesterday
then you need to watch this video.
It can give you rapid results in a way that you likely don’t even think is
possible right now.
Check it out, tap along, and see how your pain improves.  You’ll be glad
you did. :)     http://tinyurl.com3jzv52n

I know that if you’re in pain you’re likely willing to do anything to get out
of it and gain your freedom back.
The good news about tapping is that it’s easy to do and you can do it yourself
and see immediate results.
The results you’ll get from tapping along with this video will speak for themselves.
Enjoy the video and let me know what results you get. :)

If you know of anybody that is in physical pain please pass this resource on.
Having to deal with physical pain on a daily basis can be absolutely debilitating.
Finding a solution that eliminates it can give a person back their freedom to live
their life the way they want.
Just by passing this email along you may be giving somebody that freedom.
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