Don’t Try – Do! Another Lesson from the Tao Te Ching

circles in waterWhile the message Don’t Try – Do! may be more recently associated with my little green guru Yoda, it is also a lesson from the Tao Te Ching.  It is also a lesson I have struggled with, although intellectually whole-heartedly support.

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping on the karate chop point): I have a tendency to say I’ll try things.  I was taught that I should always be open to trying.  That was supposed to help me find the courage to do things that I might think I could to.  Unfortunately, saying I’m going to try seems to also set me up for failure at times.  I am open to just doing things to whatever level or ability I can at that time and accepting the result – whatever it is.  Even though I tend to think in terms of success and failure, I am open to learning a new way of being.  Even though trying feels more comfortable to me than doing, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.  Even though I am aware that this is a lesson I haven’t quite mastered in the past, I love and accept myself fully.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…The words I use may be holding me back

Side of Eye…It seems like saying that I’ll try something should be a good thing

Under the Eye…But that attitude may be limiting me in some ways

Under the Nose…When I say I’ll try, I instantly insert the possibility for failure in my life

Chin…I am open to learning a new way to choose the events of my life

Collarbone…I wonder how things could be different if I just do things instead of trying

Under the Arm…I choose to use words that open up possibilities

Top of Head…The attitude of trying can sometimes help me avoid commitment

Eyebrow…The attitude of trying can sometimes help me avoid responsibility

Side of  Eye…The attitude of trying can sometimes help me avoid the possibility of failure

Under the Eye…Well — not really

Under the Nose…I am open to redefining failure

Chin…I am open to redefining responsibility

Collarbone…I am open to redefining commitment

Under the Arm…These are all constructs that I have previously accepted as real

Top of Head…Perhaps there is another way to view the world

Eyebrow…I am open to clarity

Side of Eye…I am open to being less tentative about things I choose to do

Under the Eye…I am open to doing

Under the Nose…When I wake up in the morning – I am doing

Chin…When I eat – I am doing

Collarbone…When I go to bed — I am doing

Under the Arm…In all that I face today – I want to do

Top of Head…Trying is in the past.  Now I will do.

There May Not Be a Right or Wrong

questions answers signThere may not be a right or wrong. I’ve been exposed to this concept before and have certainly used it in psychotherapy more than once when encountering someone’s rigid beliefs.  Honestly, this is a concept that I often struggle with and I have a marked tendency to see things in terms of right and wrong.  It requires a conscious decision to see things any other way.

The second verse of the Tao Te Ching addresses the duality of the world.  I understand that I can see beauty because I see ugly and that there is no old without also knowing the existence of young.  I have trouble handling things when what seems  to be polar opposites exist side by side.  I have even more trouble handling it when directly pertains to me.  If I do something that I label as wrong, I’m all bad.  If I do something that I label as great, I lose sight of other parts of me that might not be as great.

I am trying to embrace the duality of life more often.  I’ve been wrestling with the inadequacy of the labels “right” and “wrong” for a long time now.  Below is a tapping exercise to help better understand my struggle.  I hope you tap along.

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping on the karate chop point): Even though I tend to think in terms of right and wrong, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.  Even though I struggle with dichotomous interpretations of the world, I am open to having an easier time with this.  Even though I have blocks to really accepting the new way of seeing the world in my life, I choose to embrace my willingness to change and accept all of me along the journey.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…Life without sadness means life without joy

Side of Eye…Life without illness means life without health

Under the Eye…Life without tragedy means life without victory

Under the Nose…Life without frustration means life without satisfaction

Chin…I’m afraid to embrace the entire human experience

Collarbone…I really prefer only the thing that I label as good

Under the Arm…The rest really scares me

Top of Head…I can’t quite wrap my head around the whole thing

Eyebrow…A part of me wants to get it

Side of Eye…And another part of me doesn’t

Under the Eye…That is just another example of the duality of the world

Under the Nose…I guess I can’t fully understand the concept of approach

Chin…If I don’t also recognize my own feeling of avoid

Collarbone…I’m not sure how this really plays out in my daily life

Under the Arm…I look forward to those moments when I feel like I really get it

Top of Head…And I guess I need to look forward to the moments where I don’t too.  That is the duality of life.

Emotions Are High

angry tigerIt seems that emotions are high (intense) everywhere I go.  That makes me uncomfortable.  When emotions are high it seems harder for me to predict what is going to happen and therefore, harder to feel safe.  I prefer things to be calm and peaceful.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy a good debate, but even then I prefer it to be more intellectual than emotional.

The following tapping exercise is one that I used to begin my journey toward understanding and managing my discomfort.  Feel free to tap along.

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (tapping on karate chop point): Even though emotions are high and that makes me very uncomfortable, I choose to remain calm and confident.  Even though emotions are high and I don’t feel safe with that, I choose to remain calm and confident.  Even though emotions are high and I don’t like that feeling, I choose to remain calm and confident.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…Emotions are high

Side of Eye…And I don’t like dealing with emotions

Under the Eye…They are too unpredictable for me

Nose…I like things that can be measured

Chin…I like things that can be anticipated

Collarbone…I like things that can’t be controlled

Under the Arm…On some level I don’t believe that emotions can be controlled

Top of Head…At least not mine

Eyebrow…And I can’t control the emotions of other people

Side of Eye…That scares me

Under the Eye…So the higher the emotions

Nose…The less I feel in control

Chin…I’m not sure where I learned to fear emotions

Collarbone…But I am open to some clarity about this issue

Under the Arm…I am open to learning more about my emotions

Top of Head…And I am open to learning more about the emotions of others

Eyebrow…I can go slow with it

Side of Eye…I can learn about one emotion at a time

Under the Eye…If it gets to be too much

Nose…I can go back to what I’ve always done before

Chin…I can shut it off

Collarbone…That means I will still be in control

Under the Arm…I can let in as much emotion as I can handle

Top of Head…And I can block the rest if I want to

Eyebrow…I am looking forward to feeling safe with my own emotions

Side of Eye…I believe the day will come when I can feel safe with other people’s emotions too

Under the Eye…Then I will look back and be amazed at my progress

Nose…I am pretty sure that I am safe

Chin…Even when emotions are high

Collarbone…The first step is recognizing the emotions

Under the Arm…I can do that

Top of Head…I can do that

While I was doing this tapping I became aware of specific instances from my childhood that involved high or intense emotions and bad things really did happen.  The way I managed to staff safe was to be aware of everything going on around me and to be hyperalert to the intensity of other people’s emotions.  When viewed from that perspective it is no wonder that I developed this discomfort and feeling of being out of control.   The next step is to tap while remembering those specific situations.  Whenever you can get really specific and use personal experiences the result is so much greater.

I Am Uptight, Anxious, and Overwhelmed

girl on log relaxingThe words uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed describe me all too often.  Life can be going well most of the time, but when something happens that is unexpected (good or bad) it can throw me off my game.  Tapping helps me to recover.

Say that statement out loud, “I am uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed.”  Rate the intensity or truth of that statement on a 0-10 scale (10=very intense or very true). Write down your rating.

illustration for karate chop pointBegin tapping on the karate chop point.  Even though I am uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. Even though I can do uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed better than almost anybody I know, I choose to substitute calm and confidence whenever possible.  Even though uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed come very easily to me, I choose to manifest other feelings that are more comfortable and will help me to reach my goals.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…I am uptight

Side of Eye…And I choose to release it now

Under the Eye…Bit by bit

Under the Nose…Until I am no longer feeling uptight

Chin…I am anxious

Collarbone…And I choose to release it now

Under the Arm…Bit by bit

Top of Head…Until I am no longer feeling anxious

Eyebrow…I am overwhelmed

Side of Eye…And I choose to release it now

Under the Eye…Bit by bit

Under the Nose…Until I am no longer overwhelmed

Chin…Even though I was feeling uptight before

Collarbone…I released it

Under the Arm…Bit by bit

Top of Head…And I choose to feel calm instead

Eyebrow…Even though I was feeling anxious before

Side of Eye…I released it

Under the Eye…Bit by bit

Nose…And I choose to feel confident instead

Chin…Even though I was feeling overwhelmed before

Collarbone…I released it

Under the Arm…Bit by bit

Top of Head…And I choose to feel calm and confident instead

Eyebrow…I used to feel uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed

Side of Eye…I choose to feel calm and confident instead

Under the Eye…I relase the uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed feeling from every cell in my body

Under the Nose…I release the uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed feeling from every muscle in my body

Chin…I release the uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed feeling from every fluid in my body

Collarbone…I choose to accept calmness

Under the Arm…I choose to acknowledge confidence

Top of Head…I choose to accept health and wellness into my body

Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Say the original statement again,  “I am uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed.”  Rate the intensity or truth of that statement now on the 0-10 scale.  Continue tapping with these or other more personal statements until your rating is very low.  If other thoughts popped up, or specific circumstances came to mind, be sure to tap on those at some point to help you maintain the calm and confident feeling.

Prior Programming

computer program codePrior programming is the collection of ideas, concepts, views, and beliefs that we use as our “operating system” in daily life. These programs come from our parents, religious institutions, schools, families, peer group, media, and society. Sometimes the programs are valid. Sometimes they are not. When the programs are not valid they definitely work against the positive changes we may be trying to make in our lives.

One aspect of prior programming may be the expectation that we should be content with what we have.  Do you remember an experience as a child when you wanted something but you were told it was wrong to want it? I do. I also remember being told to consider all of the poor unfortunate people who had even less than I had. There is a lot of programming that goes on to convince us to not want more or not want something different (except in TV commercials which do the opposite.)

Say this statement aloud, “I should be content with what I’ve got.”  Rate the truth of the statement on a 0-10 scale. Remember that 10 is very intense or very true for you.  Write down your rating.

illustration for karate chop pointRepeat the following statements while tapping on the karate chop point. “Even though I should be content with what I’ve got, I deeply and completely love and accept where I am right now.  Even though I’ve obviously been taught that I should just be content with what I’ve got, I deeply and completely accept myself and all of my feelings. Even though I know I should be content with what I’ve got, I deeply and completely love and accept myself and my desire for more.”

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…I should be content with what I’ve got.

Side of Eye…I should be content with what I’ve got.

Under the Eye…I should be content with what I’ve got.

Under the Nose…I should be content with what I’ve got.

Chin…I should be content with what I’ve got.

Collarbone…I should be content with what I’ve got.

Under the Arm…I should be content with what I’ve got.

Top of Head…I should be content with what I’ve got.

Take a deep breath and check the intensity of your original statement, “I should be content with what I’ve got.” Write down your new rating.  If the rating is above a 3, continue tapping with the previous statement.  Once your rating is quite low, move on to the positive tapping rounds below.

Eyebrow…I appreciate what I have now

Side of Eye…It is ok to want more

Under the Eye…Wanting more doesn’t mean I am unhappy

Under the Nose…It just means that I see possibilities to make things better for myself

Chin…I feel gratitude for what I have right now

Collarbone…I will feel gratitude if I get the things I want too

Under the Arm…I choose to feel calm and relaxed about wanting other things

Top of Head…I choose to love and accept myself and all of my feelings

Take a dep breath and let it out.  Check the intensity of your original statement, “I should be content with what I’ve got.” Record your new rating. If it has gone back up, consider starting back and the beginning and repeating the sequence.  Or, if you noticed some resistance to the positive tapping statements, it might be useful to just tap while repeating the ones that were most difficult for you.

This is only one example of how tapping can be used to address prior programming that keeps us from moving forward in meaningful ways. Try using it for all of your “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” and you will begin to experience true emotional freedom.

It Will Be Difficult

Excuses Be Gone by Wayne Dyer book coverIt will be difficult is one of the excuses identified in Excuses Be Gone, a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer and published by Hay House in 2009. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have personally used this one.  It has also been a favorite for many of my patients over the years.  People (myself included) very often can cite all of the reasons why they want to do a particular thing or why they should make a particular change. If I’m in a good mood, feeling full of energy, and feel that the person is highly motivated (again, including myself), my initial response to the excuse will be “so what?” Why does something being difficult mean that I shouldn’t or couldn’t do it? When I have actually asked that question people have looked at me like I’m crazy.

There seems to be an unspoken maxim that states that one should never try to do something if it will be difficult. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine, but the opposite might also be true OR, it could actually be easy.  Without a crystal ball it is pretty hard to tell. I might know that something was difficult for me last time or that it was difficult for someone else, but I can never know for sure that something will be difficult this time. It may not be very helpful to jump to that assumption.

If we apply Dr. Dyer’s paradigm for managing the excuse it might include asking

Q – Is it true? Will it be difficult?

A – Probably not.

Q – Where did the excuse come from?

A – I allowed it

Q – What is the payoff?  How does this excuse help me?

A – I( get to avoid risks and stay the same.

Q – What would my life look like if I couldn’t use this excuse?

A – I’d be able to really be myself

Q – Can I create a rational reason to change?

A – Yes

My paradigm for addressing the excuse is similar but also includes tapping (not a surprise I’m sure.)

Q – Where did this excuse come from?

A – Start tapping (tap through the points, changing to the next one whenever it diagram of the tapping pointsfeels right) and let your thoughts flow freely while you try to answer this question. This might include becoming aware of what you are feeling, when you have used this excuse before, and how it feels when you use it.  Get as specific as you can about the excuse, the purpose of the excuse, and the desired outcome of the excuse.

Q – Was there a time that this excuse helped or protected me?

A – The answer is probably yes. Now keep tapping and get specific, remembering the instances in which the excuse was somehow beneficial to you. Try not to get caught up in self-judgment or blame. View the events as if they were a movie or as if you are seeing it happening in the distance and keep tapping.

Q – What am I afraid would happen if I drop this excuse?

A – You will get better results if you can suspend self-judgment about having used this excuse before.  As you found out with the previous step, you developed this excuse for a reason.  Now continue tapping and take a look at the fear or anxiety that entices you to keep using the excuse and perhaps re-evaluate its usefulness to you.

Q – What would be the benefit of eliminating this excuse?

A – Start Tapping.  All things have pros and cons. Now is the time to look at the positive side of eliminating the excuse.  Your results will be best if you can get very specific and get a clear vision of what things might be like on the other side of the fence if you eliminate the excuse.  Remember, the grass is supposed to be woman jumping over the fencegreener on the other side so focus your energy on all of the good things awaiting you if you jump over the fence without the excuse.

If you decide to keep the excuse, please do so without self-blame or regret. You now understand your own motivations and decisions. If you decide to let go of the excuse, congratulations. Now you know that what you are contemplating may actually be easy.  You have also gained awareness of your own ability to do things that are difficult.

Avoid the Pedestal. It’s a Tough Fall.

multiple busts on pedestal in museumHave you ever put someone up on a pedestal?  Did you think they could do no wrong?  How did that work out for you?  Turn that around.  Do you want to be the one up on the pedestal?  If we are really honest, sometimes we do seek that type of relationship with other people.  The following tapping exercise gives you a starting point if this is an issue that resonates with you from either side of the pedestal.

 

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping the karate chop point): The Tao Te Ching tells me that I don’t want to be on a pedestal, but I seem to seek that position anyway. Even though I seem to want to be viewed as something special, or something “more”, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. Even though my mind acknowledges that danger of being put on a pedestal, my behavior suggests that I feel otherwise. In spite of this conflict, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway. Even though I don’t want the pain of falling off of the pedestal, I would like the love and respect that I believe comes with being put on a pedestal.  I choose to remain open to new ways of thinking about this.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…My mind and emotions are not in agreement about this issue

Side of Eye…I choose to remain open to clarity

Under the Eye…I have a lot of emotional baggage that I don’t fully understand

Under the Nose…I have put others on a pedestal

Chin…And when they let me down and “fall” off of that high place

Collarbone…We generally both get hurt

Under the Arm…I don’t want to continue that pattern with other people

Top of Head…And I don’t want to experience that fall myself either

Eyebrow…I am open to learning new ways of getting my needs met

Side of Eye…Maybe I am confusing adoration with respect

Under the Eye…Maybe I am confusing respect with love

Under the Nose…Maybe I am just confused all the way around

Chin…Awareness is a good place to start with this issue

Collarbone…I choose to be gentle with myself as I learn a new way

Under the Arm…I am looking forward to changes in the way I relate to others

Top of Head…I am looking forward to changes in the way I view myself

As I said, this exercise is just a starting point.  I know I have more work to do on this issue.  Do you?

Stop Worry Now

worried woman with hands over faceWorry.  People use that word to mean many different things. Some people only seem to worry when something truly is amiss.  Other people worry about things that are unlikely to ever happen.  There have been many studies about the negative effects of worry on our health.

Cover Image of Tap It Away: 10 Minutes to Freedom With EFT by Dr. Leanna ManuelMake no mistake about it, worry is a destructive force but it can be stopped.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been the mainstay for many mental health professionals when treating worry.  I have used to too.  However, I find that combining CBT with meridian tapping (EFT) is even more effective. There are examples of how to use meridian tapping to stop worry and anxiety in my book Tap It Away: 10 Minutes to Freedom With EFT.

Below is an example you can use whenever worry appears in your life.  (New to Tapping?  Click HERE for a brief explanation and video.)

Step 1: Name what you are worried about, then insert your worry in the blank.

Step 2: Tap on your karate chop point and repeat these statements. “even though illustration for karate chop pointI am worried about _________, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. Even though I am worried about ________, I choose to feel confident no matter what.  Even though I am worried about ________, I love and accept myself and all of my feelings.

Step 3: Tap on the points while using the recommended reminder phrases.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…I am worried about _____

Side of Eye…This worry about _____

Under the Eye…I am worried about _____

Under the Nose…This worry about _____

Chin…I’m so worried about _____

Collarbone…Even though I am worried about _____

Under the Arm…I choose to face it with calm confidence

Top of Head…Even though I am worried about _____

Eyebrow…I won’t let that worry stop me from the things I want to do

Side of Eye…Even though I have worried about _____ in the past

Under the Eye…I choose to react based on the present situation, not the past

Under the Nose…I have worried about _____

Chin…But I choose to think about how well I can handle so many different things

Collarbone…Even though I have worried about _____

Under the Arm…I choose thoughts that are confident

Top of Head…I experience feelings that are calm and happy

 

Taker a deep breath and let it out.  Continue tapping with these or similar reminder phrases until your worry has subsided.

I’d Rather Be Them

Want to Be ThemI don’t think I’m alone on this.  Sometimes it looks like everyone else’s life looks like it is going much better than my own.  I catch my self thinking “I’d rather be them” instead of embracing being me.  If this is ever true for you, tap along.

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping the karate chop point): Even though I often think that I’d rather be them instead of me, I am open to learning to accept being me. Even though I often long to be someone other than who I am, I am eager to learn to love and accept myself more completely.  Even though being someone else seems to be quite alluring at times, there is another part of me that likes who I am.  I am open to getting more in touch with that part of myself on a regular basis.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…I’d rather be them instead of me

Side of Eye…This is another manifestation of the grass is always greener

Under the Eye…Even though I know the fallacy of that type of thinking it still creeps into my consciousness

Under Nose…When I want to be someone else I’m really rejecting me

Chin…How can I expect other people to accept me when I don’t accept myself?

Collarbone…When I want to be someone else it sometimes means that I just want to hide from my own problems and challenges

Under the Arm…Other times it means that I’m buying into the myth that other people don’t have the problems I have

Top of Head…While I know that is false, it is easy to fall into the trap since I don’t see their problems

Eyebrow…I only feel my own

Side of Eye…When all of my longing to be someone else or live someone else’s life is over

Under Eye…I’m still left with whatever it is that I need to deal with

Under the Nose…The energy of wishing and longing for someone else’s life is wasted

Chin…It would be better spent trying to be the best me I know how to be

Collarbone…That’s the advice I always give to others

Under the Arm…Be the best you that you know how to be

Top of Head…In every second, minute, hour, and day

Eyebrow…That’s the message I often need to hear too

Side of Eye…Be the best me

Under the Eye…During the good times and during the bad times

Under the Nose… Not trying to be perfect

Chin…I don’t really want to be someone else

Collarbone…But sometimes I’m materialistic and just want the things they have

Under the Arm…I don’t want to be them

Top of Head…I want to learn to be the best me I can possible be.  Because I am enough.

My Cravings Always Win

book cover for Don't Diet Reprogramming Your Weight With Meridian TappingThe tapping exercise below is from Don’t Diet: Reprogram Your Weight With Meridian Tapping.  Cravings are something that I continue to struggle with.  It seems to be a problem for many people I know.

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping on the karate chop point) – Even though it seems like my cravings always win, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway. Even though is seems like my cravings always win, I choose to continue to try. My cravings are a part of me, and I accept myself.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…My cravings always win

Side of Eye…So it doesn’t seem worth it to even try

Under the Eye…I might as well just go ahead and eat it

Nose…If I fight it and then lose, I just end up feeling worse

Chin…Even though it seems that my cravings always win

Collarbone…I know that it isn’t really true

Under the Arm…Sometimes I am able to resist

Top of Head…I am open to learning about what makes me more successful during those times

Eyebrow…And less successful at others

Side of Eye…My cravings don’t always win

Under the Eye…My cravings sometimes win

Nose…In reality my cravings aren’t against me

Chin…They are a part of me

Collarbone…My cravings are a signal that something needs my attention

Under the Arm…I can choose to deal with it without food

Top of Head…I can choose to continue toward my goals

Eyebrow…It would be helpful to stop seeing this as a battle

Side of Eye…Its not a battle with winners and losers

Under the Eye…I am open to knowing what it is that needs my attention

Nose…I choose to treat myself with more compassion when I’m faced with cravings

Chin…So that I have the energy to address whatever it is that is behind this feeling

Collarbone…That’s it.  Cravings are just another feeling

Under the Arm…A feeling in disguise

Top of Head…And I am open to feeling it.