Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The "Laundry List" Technique: A Tool for the Completely Overwhelmed

Sometimes tapping is very straightforward. You have a specific issue that's bothering you, you tap on it, get the intensity down to zero, and move on with your day. Sometimes, it's a lot more complicated. Often, I have clients who are in a complete state of overwhelm about many aspects of their lives. There are so many things they "need to tap on" that they don't even know where to begin. While tapping on "even though I feel completely overwhelmed" can be a good place to start, I've come up with a technique that is simple enough that it doesn't add to the overwhelm, and at the same time it's comprehensive enough to assure you that you WILL address all of the issues swirling around in your head. I affectionately refer to it as the "Laundry List Technique"

To do this technique, you'll need:
3 pieces of paper
2 index cards
a pen
about 30 minutes the first day, then a few minutes daily
Optional but highly recommended: hot cup of tea or coffee and some great music - make yourself comfortable!

Step 1: Take one piece of paper and write down as many things as you can think of that are bugging you about your life right now. Everything from "I'm sick of weighing 200 LB" to "I'm totally stressed because my son's flunking algebra". If it's a really long list, that's totally fine. No need to edit anything - get it all down!

Step 2: Take a Deep Breath. It's going to be okay (really).

Step 3: Look back over your list and rate each item you wrote down on an intensity scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the most intense; as in "this is about to drive me right over the edge!")

Step 4: Once you've rated every item, pick *ONE* that you rated near the top (8-10 intensity) and *ONE* that is a low intensity (preferably 1-3). If everything on your list is rated over 7, try to think of a couple of things that are smaller irritations in your life that you'd rate 5 or under and add them to your list (it's important to have a lower intensity item to work on because it will likely get down to zero much quicker and help you feel like you're making progress).

Step 5: Take another sheet of paper and write at the top " What I Want". Then take each item on your original list (which are the things you *don't* want) and turn them around. "I'm sick of weighing 200 LB" becomes something like "I love that it feel effortless to maintain my ideal weight of 130 LB". "I'm totally stressed that my son's flunking algebra" could become "I'm totally at peace about my son's academic performance".

Step 6: Take your third piece of paper and write an afformation for each of the items you DO want. An afformation is phrased as a "why" question, and encourages your brain to look for the answers to a positive question. So, for the two examples above, the afformations would be "Why is it so effortless to maintain my ideal weight of 130 LB?" and "Why do I feel so totally at peace about my son's academic performance?"

Step 7. Take another deep breath. We're almost done!

Step 8. On one index card, write down the two issues you picked to start working on, along with their corresponding afformations. You are going to tap on these two issues daily, until they are a zero intensity. I suggest tapping one round using the traditional "negative" EFT phrasing (i.e. "even though I'm sick of weighing 200 LB"), one round of your afformation, then a third round alternating the two phrases, ending with the afformation. You'll probably find your lower-intensity issue will get to zero intensity first, so once that happens, go ahead and pick another lower intensity issue while you continue with the high intensity one (so you've always got two issues you're tapping on daily). With the higher intensity issues, you will probably need to take some time to work on specific events related to them as well.

Step 9: On the second index card, write out your entire list of afformations, then put it in a place where you can see it regularly (I have mine propped up on my computer monitor). Read it through several times a day (I read mine while I'm waiting for my computer to boot up, load a website, etc). You can tap while you read each item aloud if you want to make this even more effective.

Step 10: Rinse and repeat! Tap on your two issues daily, and read your afformations list several times per day. You should find that within a couple of weeks (if not sooner) you're feeling a lot more positive and less out-of-control. Every time you get an item down to zero, go back and cross it off your original list (and notice how much lighter you feel!)

If you decide to give the "Laundry List Technique" a try, I'd love to hear how it works for you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"This Shouldn't Be Happening!"

At the beginning of the month, I was just getting started on an inspiring little post to help everyone kick off the new year on a positive note, when my personal world got rocked BIGTIME. A Huge Personal Crisis arrived at my door, seemingly out of nowhere, and knocked me flat on my butt. The kind of thing that makes you feel like you're coming apart at the seams. The kind of thing that makes you want to go to bed for 6 months and hope it'll all be gone when you wake up. The kind of thing that makes you wonder if anything in your life will ever be the same again.

And of course my first reaction to this crisis was "This should NOT be happening!" Not to *me*, and certainly not right now! I did NOT want to accept this big mess as part of my life. But like John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Just when we think we know where we're headed, we're handed a big, unpleasant "surprise". Often, our bodies are involved in some way. Like when we get a frightening diagnosis. Or a chronic illness gets worse instead of better, even after we "did everything right". You'll have to excuse the Star Trek reference, but the Borg do have a point when they say "Resistance is futile." When this really big stuff hits, there's not much else you can do but surrender to it, accept that it's part of your life journey, and move forward with as much grace as you can muster (even if that's not a whole lot).

Of course, EFT is a powerful tool for helping you to release that resistance and move forward. Here's a tapping script to help you find more peace when life throws you a giant curveball:

Setup (karate chop):
Even though I'm absolutely sure that this should not be happening to me, I love and accept myself
Even though I can't believe this is happening, and I don't know what did I do to deserve this, I accept who I am and how I feel
Even though I'm terrified right now, and I don't know if I can handle this, I love and accept myself, and I'm open to receiving support in any way it wants to come to me

Eyebrow: This should NOT be happening to me!
Side of Eye: I can't handle this right now
Under Eye: This isn't fair, I've done everything right
Under Nose: I'm so scared
Chin: How could this happen to ME?
Collarbone: I don't know what to do
Under Arm: Nothing is ever going to be the same again
Top of Head: I wish someone else could fix this for me

Eyebrow: I just want this to go away!
Side of Eye: What did I do wrong?
Under Eye: This isn't the life I ordered
Under Nose: I would NOT have chosen this!
Chin: Maybe on some level I did choose this
Collarbone: Maybe there's a gift in here somewhere
Under Arm: I don't know why this happened
Top of Head: But I can choose to trust that it's part of my journey

Eyebrow: I can choose to trust
Side of Eye: That I'm going to learn more about Who I Really Am
Under Eye: I'm open to the idea
Under Nose: That I can release my resistance to this experience
Chin: I can choose to relax and surrender
Collarbone: I can trust that the Universe is always supporting me
Under Arm: I'm open to feeling fully supported
Top of Head: I choose to move forward with grace & ease

As always, make sure to tap on any specific events that come up, too!

More resources for helping you deal with The Really Tough Stuff:

The Work (also see any of Byron Katie's books, especially Loving What Is)

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
by Elizabeth Lesser

Image by Salvatore Vuono, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, December 21, 2009

Presence Amidst the Presents

"If you think you're enlightened, go spend a week with your family" ~Ram Dass

If your holiday schedule is anything like mine, over the next week or so you'll be spending a lot of time visiting with extended family. For many of us, emotions and stress levels are already running high, and then we get to throw some challenging extended-family dynamics into the mix. We all want to be able to relax and enjoy our time with our families, but sometimes it can seem like a really tall order to fill! Here are a few strategies to help make that a real possibility:

1. Release expectations
We often enter into a gathering with a lot of expectations (both positive and negative): "I hope everyone loves the dessert I made"; "I just know Grandma's going to get in a few digs about my divorce, so I better brace myself now"; "I know no-one's going to appreciate the gifts I bought." No wonder we're already stressed by the time we even arrive on the scene! Try to release feeling attached to any particular outcome and just let whatever happens, happen.

2. Assume positive intent
It's easy to assume that Aunt Jane meant to make us feel terrible by that offhand remark she made. In truth, we don't have any way of knowing what other people's intentions are. Words and actions only have the meanings *we* give to them. So why not assume that everyone's intentions are good? We are all doing the best we can at any given moment.

3. Find something to appreciate
Even when things aren't going quite the way we planned or wished for, there are always plenty of things to appreciate. Choose to look for them. The cozy warmth of a fire, the kids playing happily with their cousins, a warm hug from a distant relative you haven't seen in years are all worth celebrating, so take the time to really notice them.

4. Reclaim a state of wonder
Remember when you were a kid and everything about the holiday season seemed totally magical? All the same magical stuff is still all around us, we've just misplaced our "wonder" glasses. Take a cue from the kids - go outside and make some snow angels, catch snow on your tongue, or have a tickle-fight with your nieces and nephews (they will probably remember it for years).

5. Stay open to joy
Once you drop your expectations of what "should" be happening, it's a lot easier to see the joy that is everywhere around you. A willingness to "let it in" is all it takes. You may experience joy in the most unexpected places, so be on the lookout and I know you'll find it!

Image by Danilo Rizzuti, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It Really *IS* a Wonderful Life!

The holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life" is one of my favourite movies. It's a perfect illustration of the power the stories we tell about our life have to shape that life. The main character, George Bailey, is filled with despair when his uncle loses a huge chunk of money from their business on the way to deposit it at the bank. Nothing seems to have gone right for him for a very long time: while he's always dreamed of having big adventures traveling the world, he's been trapped in the sleepy town of Bedford Falls struggling to hold together the business his father started. He believes he's wasted his entire life and now the wealthy and powerful Mr. Potter (who's been trying to bring the Bailey family down for years) will finally win, seize control of the Bailey business, and get George arrested for embezzlement. George sees nothing but a bleak future ahead and decides his life's not worth living anymore. He's just about to end it all when the angel Clarence appears and gives George the gift of seeing what the world would be like if he'd never been born. As Clarence takes him on a trip through the events that would have occurred during his "lifetime" if George hadn't been there, George finally comes to understand that his existence has blessed many people, and that he has many things to be thankful for as well. He really *has* had a great life! It's just that he was focusing on all the things that hadn't worked out the way he planned.

All of us have the power to choose the stories we tell about our lives. Many of us are so convinced we've had it so bad for so long that we can't possibly begin to tell a happier story. Just like George Bailey, we have a tendency to remember all the things that went wrong - all the disappointments and heartbreaks - rather than all of the many ways we've been blessed throughout our lives. And yet we know that if we want anything in our life to change, we need to be able to begin to "tell it the way we want it to be" and *expect* it to be that way!

In my experience, being able to tell a different story about our past allows us to shift our thoughts about the present and what we can reasonably "expect" in the future.

For example, take a look at these two life stories:

Person A's story:
-experienced many health challenges throughout her life (including urinary tract infections, fibromyalgia, severe acid reflux, panic attacks and depression)
-didn't have many friends growing up and had trouble "fitting in" at school
-felt lonely, misunderstood and unsupported to be herself
-struggled to support herself financially in university while friends were out drinking and partying with their parents' money
-worked at a high-stress and much hated job for a decade to support her family

Person B's story:
-had lots of freedom as a kid and spent hours happily reading books and climbing trees
-got the opportunity to do all kinds of cool things, like competitive gymnastics, horseback riding camp, and water skiing, throughout childhood
-was a straight-A student and won lots of awards and scholarships, including a prestigious national scholarship for graduate school
-met a fantastic life partner at age 16 and has enjoyed a fun and fulfilling nearly 22 year relationship with him
-was blessed with two amazing, healthy, happy kids
-found a job she feels totally passionate about

Which life would YOU rather have?

They are both the same life (mine).

I can choose to tell the Person A story, be filled with bitterness and resentment, and expect life to continue to be difficult and unfair "just like it's always been", or I can choose to tell the Person B story, and be filled with appreciation for all the blessings that have come my way, and expect life to continue to be easy and fun, "just like it's always been".

What story are you going to choose to tell? I hope you will choose to have a Wonderful Life - I know I'm glad I did!

Image by Daniel St. Pierre, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

14 Self-Supportive Ways To Soothe Yourself

I've talked to quite a few people in the last few weeks who are feeling kind of funky (ranging anywhere from "got a bit of the blues" to "completely overwhelmed".) With the holiday season on its way, and daily reminders of swine flu and "the economy" still dominating the papers and internet, it can be a challenge to trust that All Is Well. If you're dealing with a chronic health condition on top of all this "background noise", some days it can seem like feeling good (emotionally OR physically) is next to impossible! It's during times like these that many of us are tempted to turn to self-destructive behaviours (like drinking too much alcohol, overeating, or picking fights with loved ones) as ways to cope with everything life has thrown our way. While these actions may make you feel better for a short while, in the end you're likely to end up regretting these choices. The good news is there are a lot of other ways to soothe yourself that will help you start to feel better immediately, and will continue to support your mental, emotional, and physical health over the long term.

If you're anything like me, part of the problem is that once you get into a funk, the more creative part of your brain seems to shut down, and it's difficult to think of anything useful to do to help yourself. That's why I keep a handy list of ideas around to pull out when I need a boost! Here (in no particular order) are some of my favourite self-supportive soothing activities:

Music: Music is such a powerful mood booster. It's so easy to put some on and it's an almost instant soother. Make a playlist of your favourite musical soothers on your Ipod or computer (I like playlist.com) for some "touch of a button" relief!

Hobbies: When you're feeling down is probably not the time to go looking for a new hobby; I've found a lot of comfort in engaging in a familiar one. Knitting, playing a musical instrument, making bread, painting, or building models are all examples of hobbies that can be extremely soothing to the spirit. As an added bonus, you get the satisfaction of creating something!

Nature: Connecting with the natural world seems to have magical restorative powers for most people. Watch the birds at the feeder or birdbath, dig around in the garden, or go for a hike in the woods.

Find something to laugh about: We've all heard the saying "laughter is the best medicine", and for good reason! I have a stash of go-to movies to pull out when I need a good dose of silliness (50 First Dates, When Harry Met Sally, Just Like Heaven, School of Rock, and the Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin classic, All of Me). Humorous books and stand-up comedy DVDs by comedians who tickle your funny bone are other excellent choices for some "laughter therapy".

Water: A good long hot bath or shower is at the top of my list when I need a pick-me-up!

Hot beverages: Curling up with a hot cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa is something you can take a few minutes to do even in the midst of one of those "crazy" days. If you tend to overdo it with caffeine, an herbal tea might be the best option for you.

Soothing scents: Light some scented candles, or fill your house with a seasonal spicy scent by simmering some cinnamon sticks and orange rind on the stove. If you enjoy using essential oils, lavender, lemon, ylang ylang and rose are all calming scents (putting them in a diffuser is great if you have one). There are some creative "recipes" for using essential oils to soothe yourself here.

Move Your Body: When you're feeling blue or overwhelmed, you're less likely to feel like moving your body; ironically this is probably the time when it would benefit you the most! Try a short walk or a few minutes on the yoga mat. You may find that once you start moving you find yourself enjoying it, and end up doing more than you planned.

Inspirational videos or CDs: I have a stack of Abraham-Hicks CDs that I keep around to put on when I feel like I'm starting to "lose it". If I'm working on the computer, I may jump over to YouTube and watch one of their videos for a quick pick-me-up. This works great for me, but for my husband would be a form of self-torture (grin). If Abe's not your thing, find something else that inspires you and remember to pull it out when you need it!

Reading: Getting lost in a good book is a self-soothing strategy I've used since early childhood. Fortunately there are so many books coming out these days that there will always be something new and exciting to check out, no matter what your favourite genre.

Take a nap: Sometimes a little extra rest is all you really need to feel well-balanced again. If you know you've been pushing yourself too hard, tuck yourself into bed for a mid-afternoon nap. If you can't do this during the work week, treat yourself on the weekend. I guarantee you life will seem rosier when you wake up!

Snuggle someone: Go find a kid or a pet to cuddle up with.

Be a kid: Remember all those fun games you used to play as a kid? They're still fun now. If you're all alone, try pattern puzzle games like Rush Hour, or a game of solitaire (play it with real cards, not on the computer; learn dozens of new solitaire games here). If you've got a playing partner or two handy, break out the Yahtzee, Backgammon, Sorry and Clue.

Keep up the daily tapping! You knew I had to mention it eventually...I just had to include tapping on a list of self-supportive soothing activities! If you missed my last post, go check it out for a list of fun and easy daily tapping suggestions.

For a maximum dose of self-soothing, pull out all the stops and combine a few of these into an Ultimate Self-Soothing Experience. Take a hot bath with essential oils while listening to music and reading a funny book, take a walk on a nature trail while listening to an inspirational talk on your Ipod, or snuggle up on the couch with a kid and a dog while watching a funny movie and sipping hot cocoa.

I hope this list inspires you to find some new and creative ways to find your "feel good" again. If you have a favourite self-soothing activity I haven't mentioned, please share it with us!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Do Apples and Tapping Have in Common?

We've all heard the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." A similar sentiment would be appropriate for tapping! I encourage all of my clients to make tapping a part of their daily life and I am committed to tapping every day myself.

I know it can feel like a daily tapping practice is just one more thing to do when you already have a long list of "things I should do every day, but never seem to make the time for." The great thing about tapping is that you can do it in really small windows of time - as little as 1-2 minutes - making it a relatively easy commitment. Whether or not you're working with an EFT practitioner, a daily tapping habit is an empowering way to support yourself. If you are dealing with a chronic health issue such as physical pain or trying to lose weight, a daily tapping practice is one of the best ways I know to enhance your feelings of emotional AND physical well-being.

Daily tapping doesn't have to be complicated OR time-consuming. In fact, I think it should definitely be FUN and EASY- that way you are much more likely to do it. Here are a few easy ways to make tapping part of your daily life:

1. Tap to music
One of the great things about tapping to music is that it can help you "tap into" a desired state. If you want to feel more relaxed, put on some relaxing music and tap. If you want to feel energized, choose a song that makes you feel like dancing in the streets! Simply choose an appropriate tune and tap through the points while listening.

This is one of my personal favourites; it's a beautiful, uplifting song with a rhythm that's perfect for tapping along to!



2. Tap along to a video or script
If you are one of the many people I know who feel like they "don't know what to say" when tapping, scripts and videos can be a great way to do some tapping that's a bit more structured without having to worry about coming up with "the right words."

One of the most popular EFT videos on YouTube (and one that I've enjoyed using myself) is Brad Yates' Tap O' the Mornin'. It's an inspiring way to start your day!



Many EFT practitioners offer free e-books that include tapping scripts. My own Tapping into Body Joy e-book contains several scripts that are specifically for people working on physical health and body issues. If you don't have a copy yet, you can download it by clicking on the cover photo in the sidebar.

3. Combine tapping with your gratitude or appreciation practice

A daily gratitude practice -whether writing in a gratitude journal or sitting and focusing on appreciating the good things in your life - has become a popular ritual. You can easily combine this practice with tapping. Tap on the points while you state each item on your list for which you're thankful.

4. Walk n' tap
You can easily tap while out walking - whether it's an exercise walk or a stroll with the dog, walking and tapping is a great combination. If you're walking in a remote area, you can tap through all the points as usual. If you're in a busier area and want to be more discreet, simply use the finger points instead.

Most of these techniques are not designed to address core issues or clear deep blocks, but rather to "prime" the energy system and keep the body's subtle energies moving freely. As you tap while accessing states of relaxation, appreciation or exhilaration, it will help to reinforce these states within your energy system.

You may also find that some of the "deeper" issues may surface while using these simple techniques. If you don't feel comfortable tapping on them right away, making note of them in a tapping journal is a great way to make sure these issues don't get forgotten. After using some of these fun and easy approaches to daily tapping, you may be surprised to find that soon you'll be whizzing through several rounds of more traditional EFT all on your own without giving it a second thought!

Do you have a favourite fun & easy tapping ritual? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is an "Either/Or" Standing Between You and Perfect Health?

Recently, my friend and fellow EFTer Paul Zelizer discussed in one of his blog posts how he worked through an issue he had about choosing integrity over money. These types of "either/or" beliefs (in this case, "I can have integrity OR money, but not both) are prevalent in our thinking, even though a lot of the time we're not even aware of it. This is just as true when it comes to health issues as it is with our finances. For one reason or another, at some point in our lives, we managed to convince ourselves that we had to choose between two things we really want (often this is at a subconscious level). After all, most of us have been told repeatedly that we can't have our cake and eat it, too! So, we believe we have to choose one need over the other, and in the end, whichever need feels safer and more comfortable wins.

Spotting an "Either/Or" Belief
Unearthing an "either/or" may require you to be uncomfortably honest with yourself. Ask yourself what the drawbacks would be to attaining your perfect weight or recovering completely from your illness. You may hear yourself saying something like:

"If I lose the weight, my mom will be too jealous of me"

"As long as I'm fat, I can be sure people really like me for who I am and not how I look"

"As long as I'm sick, I have a convenient excuse for getting out of doing work I dislike"

"My chronic pain gives me permission not to live up to other people's (or my own) expectations"

"My illness guarantees that I'll get lots of attention from my family and friends"

In each case, there is an unconscious "either/or" lurking behind these statements.

-Either I can be thin, or I can feel loved and supported

-Either I can be fat, or I will feel insecure about whether I am being accepted for who I really am

-Either I can be sick, or I will have to do work I dislike

-Either I can be in pain, or I will be expected to be perfect

-Either I can be sick, or I can be lonely and unloved

Once you've detected an "either/or" belief, I highly recommend using Dr Pat Carrington's "Choices" method to deal with it. This is a wonderful technique that will allow you to affirm that you can choose BOTH of the things you desire. Some examples of setups using the choices method would be:

"Even though I'm scared mom will be too jealous if I lose the weight, I choose to be at my ideal weight and feel completely loved and supported"

"Even though I'm afraid I will have to go back to a job I hate if I get over this illness, I choose to be completely healthy and do work I love"

Once you have put together a Choices statement that feels really good to you, I suggest tapping on it several times per day. A more detailed explanation of how to use the Choices method can be found here.

Remember, as one of my favourite teachers, Abraham, says: "You are supposed to get EVERYTHING you want!" You don't need to settle for either/or - choose BOTH.

Image by Andy Newson, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net