Heart Break

An article, reported in the BBC hit a little too close to home a few years ago.  Spoiler Alert – the answer is yes! The question was Can you die of a broken heart? The problem they were talking about is a physiological change in the heart as the result of psychological or emotional stress. In the 1990s Japanese researchers began calling this Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.  This name resulted from the left ventricle of the heart ballooning out to resemble a takotsubo, a fishing pot used to trap octopuses.

The article went on to talk about the different kinds of stress that can cause this, including bombs, war, and other life-threatening events. I am here to tell you that it doesn’t take anything that bad to induce takotsubo cardiomyopathy.  How do I know? It happened to me a few years ago.  I was sitting at my desk at the end of a very stressful, but not catastrophic day and BAM!, crushing chest pain. After a trip to the local hospital (another horror story) and many tests, takotsubo cardiomyopathy  was diagnosed.

Very little is really known about this disorder, and even less is known about treatment. It does occur more frequently in women, particularly post-menopausal women, than it does in men. For most people, all the signs point to a heart attack. Initial symptoms, EKG, and lab tests all look like an MI.  In fact, going into my cardiac catheterization the cardiologist told me to expect that I would be coming out of there with at least one stint.  Imagine my relief when he told me there was no clot or muscle damage and that my coronary arteries looked good. It wasn’t until later when I started reading about this that I found out it can still be lethal.

So ladies….and gentlemen, if you have chest pain go to the hospital.  Don’t dismiss your symptoms (or the symptoms of others) simply as stress.  As I’ve said before — Stress Kills.

Tao Te Ching – Verse 8

river flowing gently

Take a look at this translation from Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition by Jonathan Star.

The best way to live is to be like water for water benefits all things and goes against none of them. It provides for all people and even cleanses those places a man is loath to go. In this way it is just like the Tao.

Live in accordance with the nature of things: Build your house on solid ground. Keep your mind still. When giving, be kind. When speaking, be truthful. When ruling, be just. When working, be one-pointed. When acting, remember – timing is everything.

One who lives in accordance with nature does not go against the way of things. He moves in harmony with the present moment always knowing the truth of just what to do.

In Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao he offers this translation of the same verse:

The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It flows to low places loathed by all men. Therefore it is like the Tao.

Live in accordance with the nature of things. In dwelling, be close to the land. In meditation, go deep in the heart. In dealing with others, be gentle and kind. Stand by your word. Govern with equity. Be timely in choosing the right moment.

One who lives in accordance with nture does not go against the way of things. He moves in harmony with the present moment, always knowing the truth of just what to do.

A few things stood out for me when reading these two translations.

  • Let it be easy
  • Good things are for everyone, not just the people I like or the people who are like me
  • Your word, what you say, is a representation of who you are
  • Some things may be right, but this may not be the right time
  • Stop trying to force things to happen
  • Be who you are. Don’t try to be somebody else
  • I have an inner knowing and I need to follow it

These are not necessarily things that are easy to grasp, easy to implement, or comfortable to contemplate. That is where tapping can be a big benefit.  We can tap to minimize resistance. We can tap on feeling uncomfortable. We can tap about specific incidents in which we failed miserably in these lofty goals. We can tap about our uncertaintly about whether we could every achieve such a state of enlightenment.

One of my favorite ways to get started when reading spiritual texts of any kind is to start tapping while I am reading it. I believe that it helps with understanding and begins to melt away resistance. When I tap while reading I also seem to be more alert to changes in my body that can signal that a particular passage requires a deeper investigation or has particular applicability for my life.

Try it.  Pick one or both of the translations about and just start your tapping. Switch to a different tapping spot whenever you feel like it. Notice what you are feeling. If you want, you can stop to jot down some notes any time you feel moved to do so. Then, resume your tapping when you are done.

As always, tapping that includes your own words, thoughts, and experiences will be the most beneficial.

Happy Tapping.

Book Review – The Song of Annie Moses

I loved this book. I already was in love with the Annie Moses Band, having attended one of their concerts in Ohio. I knew a little of their story before, but this book made me fall in love with them all over again. The writing is captivating, the story compelling, and the wisdom is priceless. I believe this book deserves a spot on the top shelf of all parenting books.

Robin Donica Wolaver is the author. She writes books with the same mastery and clarity as her song lyrics. By the end I felt as though I really knew these strong and inspired women through the generations. I was impressed by the congruence between their beliefs and their actions.  I felt challenged by the depth of their spiritual lives. As the book ended, I wanted more.

Lack of Success Does Not = Failure

If you perceive all instances where you were not successful as failure, you are probably pretty miserable. Most people do not get something right the first time.  Most people do not evey get it all right the second time.  Do you think that Edison invented the light bulb on his first try? If he had decided not to try to second, third, and hundredth time because he had “failed” we would all still be living in the dark.

It is not true that not trying protects you from failure either.  Not trying could be perceived as failure.  Further, there is no truth to the belief that failure leads to embarrassment. It is time to challenge that automatic thought.

Tapping is a great tool to use to change this type of thinking.

Say the following statement aloud. “If I don’t try, I don’t risk the embarrassment of failure.” Rate how true you believe this statement is on a 0-10 scale where 10 = completely true, and write it down.

Repeat this statement three times while tapping gently on the karate chop point. “Even though I believe I can avoid the embarrassment of failure by not trying anything – I choose to love, forgive, and accept myself and all of my limiting beliefs.”

Start tapping:

Eyebrow – I don’t want to feel embarrassed

Side of Eye – And I will feel embarrassed if I fail

Under the Eye – So I keep myself safe by not trying at all

Nose – But it doesn’t really keep me safe

Chin – And it doesn’t avoid failure

Collarbone – And I am embarrassed anyway

Under the Arm – I believe I will fail

Top of Head – I know I will fail

Eyebrow – I can predict the future

Side of Eye – My failure is certain

Under the Eye – My failure is absolute

Nose – No it’s not!

Chin – Not trying is failure too

Collarbone – It is safe to try

Under the Arm – I can be successful

Top of Head – I KNOW I can take risks and succeed

Take a deep breath and check the intensity of your original statement. “If I don’t try, I don’t risk the embarrassment of failure.” Rate the truth of the statement again on the 0-10 scale.  Continue tapping with these or similar statements until your rating is quite low (below 3).

What happens inside you when you think about the number of times you have “failed” at something before? Is it a negative feeling? Is it a positive feeling? Is it neutral? My hope for you is that it is either neutral or positive, but I suspect you will really feel more negative.  I know that my response is usually negative.

So you have “failed”. I say GOOD!  That means you have tried something.  Do you have a number in your head for how many times it is okay to fail at something before you should give up?  Is that number the same as the number of times that you think it is okay for other people to try something before they give up?  If there is a difference, try to understand why.  It will likely be another belief that you will want to tap on in the future.  Be sure to write it down in your tapping journal for later if you don’t have time right now.

Happy Tapping.

Tapping: Changing Problems into Possibilities

falling tree bramchesI like tapping. No, I love tapping. It often baffles me that people are so resistant to trying it. Excuses are numerous, but one that used to ring true to me was “Tapping can’t change anything. The problem is still there.”  Maybe yes, but maybe no.

Let’s say that you are traveling along the road when you come upon a tree that is down and blocking yor path.  You are right that tapping is not going to make the tree go away for you.  It will still be there after you are done tapping. So what is the point of doing tapping in this situation?

Most people experience some degree of upset or frustration when their plans must be altered suddenly. The word “detour” often has negative emotions attached to it.  Tapping could be used immediately to decrease the frustration or negative feelings that arose when you first saw that the path was blocked.  Tapping could also be used for the automatic negative thoughts that because evident such as “Now, I’ll be late” or “I’ll never get there”, or “I’ll be stranded out here forever.”  This type of negative thinking is seldom productive and, in fact, blocks our ability to creatively problem-solve and move forward.

There may be enough room to go around the tree. You might be able to back up, turn around, or go another route. The blocked path could be a gift because an even bigger obstacle or danger is around the next turn. If your energy system is all messed up you might miss the opportunity to feel thankful that you didn’t end up in an even bigger disaster.

Bottom line….you are absolutely right.  The tree is still there. But your perception of the tree and the total situation can change dramatically with the use of tapping.  The relief will be obvious.  Happy tapping.

Book Review: Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl

This was a surprising read for me. Why? Because I had preconceived ideas about the content of the book.  I expected to find a story of severe allergies (I did) and a belief that everyone should chage their lives to accommodate the person with allergies (I didn’t).  This book had balance.

Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an allergice life by Sandra Beasley expanded my knowledge of allergy research and gave me food for thought (pun intended).  I haven’t always known that I had food allergies and mine are generally not as life-threatening as Sandra’s.  It seems that mind have had a more subtle and cumulative effect on my health.  Nonetheless, my food allergies significantly impact the way I live.

Her writing style is engaging, even in the more technical descriptions of allergy and medicine.  I found myself laughing at the descriptions I recognized all too well and deeply pondering the more challenging viewpoints.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that even thinks they may have food sensitivities and it is a must-read for anyone that loves or lives with someone with life threatening allergies.

Global vs Local

If you search the internet using the terms local and global you will find articles on almost every topic imaginable. Within the realm of psychology, the terms are commonly used in perception and information processing. I have found benefit in using these terms to understand problems and solutions as well as pairing solutions with the problems people report in therapy. It might be helpful to think of local problems as things that are fairly limited in time and frequency. Local problems aren’t always small or minor. They can be quite intense. Global problems are best thought of as patterns or trends. Again, severity isn’t the real issue.

Mary, usually a great student, gets a low score on a math test. Is this a local problem or a global problem? Based on the available information this is a local problem. There is no evidence that this problem involves any factors outside of the specific incident. Jared has received low grades in his math classes for the past several years. The existence of the difficulty over time suggests that this is more likely global. Judy is having trouble getting along with her coworkers, family, and friends. She has been generally irritable for several months. This is another example that is more global than local because the problem exists in more than one situation.

Mary, having a local problem, will likely be able to resolve the issue with a fairly local solution. Local solutions might include things like reviewing the test material, talking with the teacher, or doing some extra work with the specific concepts that were covered by the test. Global solutions such as dropping the math class, enrolling in a tutoring program, or changing her major would likely be excessive or overreactions to the problem. For Jared the opposite is really true. His problems are not likely to resolve by focusing on only the current topic in mathematics. The solution will need to be much more global. Since Judy’s problems occur within several relationships and settings, resolution focusing on broader concepts such as mood, intimacy, communication, or boundaries will probably be necessary.

When an individual has a local problem there is not likely going to be a serious consequence when a global solution is launched; however, the problem resolution could actually take a much longer time and will use more resources than in necessary. Conversely, if an individual has a global problem, as noted previously there is very little chance of resolution with a local solution.

Misperception is an important factor to consider. Susan’s son spilled soda on the living room carpet. Ellen recognized this as a local problem and had him clean up his mess. This was a logical consequence of his spilling. This scene could have played out a different way if Susan had perceived this as a global problem. Instead of focusing on how to resolve the mess, she could have focused on the event as an act of disrespect, disobedience, or incompetence. Then she would have searched for solutions that would correct those larger issues. The event would likely not have ended with just a towel or a mop.

Here are some questions to ask when considering whether a problem or solution is truly local or global.

  • How often does this problem occur (time)?
  • Does this happen in more than one situation (scope)?
  • Does this happen with more than one person?
  • Does this solution address the facts or the feelings?
  • Does this solution have an immediate impact or will it take time?
  • Does this solution change what is happening in one situation or many?

Remember, the goal is to use local solutions for local problems and global solutions for global problems.  The more accurate your perception, the easier it will be.

Using Tapping for Sleep

Cat SleepYou would think that I would immediately think of tapping whenever I have a challenge.  I really wish that were true. I would suffer so much less that way. But, like many people, I go about trying to solve my problems in the “usual” way first.  I have had some trouble sleeping at night. The way I was thinking about the problem suggested at least three things were interfering with my sleep. First there was a temperature problem. My bedroom was way too hot.  In fact, my house was too hot. Temperatres during the day had started getting into the 90s and my house was turning into a little oven. I don’t sleep well if I’m not in a cool room.

A second issue was a frequen cough and plugged up sinuses. I have been sick recenty and my respiratory system doesn’t particularly like the climate here in New Mexico. Open windows and doors, heat, and blowing fans weren’t helping my dryness problem. I would start to fall asleep and then awaken when I started coughing.

The third issue that I identified was emotional. I was angry and frustrated about the swamp cooler, the dryness, and the illness. Thoughts like “if people were just competent I wouldn’t have to suffer” (waiting on repairs for the swamp cooler), “I wouldn’t have to deal with this if I were back in Ohio”, and “if I don’t get some sleep soon it is really going to get ugly” were prominent.  To add insult to injury, at the time I was spending a majority of my day helping other people overcome their insomnia. I was angry that I might have to resort to using those techniques for myself and I didn’t want to. (My inner 2-year-old was definitely in control.)

So there I was…awake, miserable, and angry. It was almost like one of those cartoon lightbulbs lit up over my head.  So I started tapping.  At first I wasn’t sure what I was tapping about.  I just knew that I was miserable and that I wanted it to stop. Then I focused on feeling hot.  After I had tapped a few rounds about that I started tapping about my lungs settling down.  I tapped while I focused on my rising panic about not sleeping.  I also tapped about how angry and frustrated I was with the whole situation. I even threw in some tapping about feeling stupid because I didn’t think of tapping sooner.

All of that tapping souncds like a lot, but in reality it probably only took about 10 minutes until I was calm, relaxed, and comfortable enough to fall asleep. There are a few lessons here that I feel are important to highlight,

1.  I just started tapping.  I didn’t need clarity about what I was tapping for in order to get started.

2.  I didn’t do any real setup statements or formal reminder phrases. I didn’t need them.  My body, mind, and spirit knew exactly what I needed in the moment.

3.  I had to stick with it for a little while in order to get results.

4.  It worked.


Happy Tapping.