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.

Exercise Avoidance

getting ready to exerciseHave you ever skipped a planned workout because you just didn’t want to go? Meridian tapping can help to keep you on track for your health and fitness goals. This is actually a pretty old video.  Much has changed since I filmed it.  I’ve moved twice, broken my arm, and changed jobs.  My commitment to exercise has not changed, but the way I go about it has.  I typically don’t go to the gym anymore and now do most of it at home.  I’m also thinking about increasing movement rather than increasing the number or repetitions.

Don’t get me wrong, I still set goals for time, speed, and incline when on the treadmill, monitor the number of steps per day on my smart phone, and get excited if I can add weight when lifting.   Setting and working toward goals is a part of my personality.  In terms of health though, frequent movement seems to be as important as intense movement.

Even though I remain committed, there are days when I just have trouble getting started.  That is when tapping really comes to my rescue.

 

Thinner This Year

Book cover image for Thinner This YearThinner This Year: A Diet and Exercise Program for Living Strong, Fit, and Sexy was more challenging for me than was Younger Next Year.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it, but I had to concentrate more to get the information.  Chris Crowley’s witty style is definitely present and Jennifer Sachek’s portions are interesting, but contain so much important information that it was less entertaining.  Together they are a complete package.

Younger Next Year was a game changer for me. I rarely miss a work out.  I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy it as much as Chris does, but I’m definitely a convert and have been since I first read it in 2014.  With regards to the diet component, that’s a little tougher because of my food allergies. I can’t just lift the advice from the pages and apply it quite as easily as I can the exercise part. The overarching message of don’t eat garbage is applicable though.

Remarkably, what I gained from Thinner This Year isn’t just knowledge.  Although a large portion is a how-to book, there is a significant amount of the book dedicated to why-to.  Even more important is that is sparked my excitement about making a few changes. I have a bit more belief in my ability to modify my lifestyle and I have a stronger belief in the necessity of doing it.

As you can tell, I highly recommend reading this book.

Younger Next Year

Book Cover of Younger Next YearThree letters sum up my reaction to the book Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge. You choose either WOW or OMG.  For me, this book was a life-changer. In reality, a lot of the information, the what, was not new to me.  What was new was the why.  And in this book, the why is pretty compelling. I found myself actually wanting to get to the gym more. That is pretty amazing. My diet is really pretty good, but I found myself wanting to make it better. The comparison between aging and decaying rattled around in my head almost constantly for the first few months after reading the book. I was convinced pretty early in the beginning chapters that decaying is a very bad think and generally preventable.

book cover from Younger Next Year for WomenYounger Next Year is a book by men and about men. That was not a turn off to me but it might be for some women. I was readily able to see that the science is the same, no matter the gender. Don’t despair though, there is a version Younger Next Year for Women.  No matter which one you choose, the important thing is to read the book and follow Harry’s Rules.  I am absolutely confident that they can change lives.

Fear of Spiders

fear of spiders? spider in webMeridian tapping is an effective tool for alleviating the pain and suffering of specific fears. The video demonstrates tapping for fear of spiders but can be customized to address your own specific fears.  It’s a really simple technique.  To get the best result, either go look at what you are afraid of, or find a picture of it to look at before you begin the tapping.

 

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.

Keeping My Word

In general, keeping my word isn’t a terribly hard thing for me, at least not the way I have interpreted that before.  Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition by Jonathan Star verse 8 includes, When speaking, be truthful.  In that sense keeping my word is about telling the truth.  The context surrounding the statement seems to be pointing to more than avoiding lies. It seems to be about being in harmony with truth, not just following a rule.

Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life by Wayne DyerIn Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao, the translation is Stand by your word.  This seems to call for even more personal integrity and elicits many more questions and poses more pitfalls. It would even be easy to get bogged down in this (and I did) with questions like, “can’t I ever change my mind?” or “does that leave any room for spontaneity?”, or even “everybody lies sometimes.”

After tapping and meditating on this for a while I have come to believe that this statement, like much of the Tao, isn’t about behavior as much as it is about who we are at the core. It doesn’t mean that I can’t ever tell somebody I’m going to do something and then decide that I can’t or don’t want to do it. It means that if I have committed to doing something I then need to speak the truth to the person about why I am no longer going to do it. I’m not going to blame someone or something else, make an excuse, avoid, or simply not follow through.

Not only can tapping be useful for gaining a deeper understanding of a text like this one, it can also be quite valuable in changing the way you feel after having gained the insight. I was flooded with memories of all of the times that I have made excuses, heaped blame, and therefore devalued my own word.  The emotion resulting from all of those memories have been responding well to tapping. In addition, tapping has helped when I’m tempted to lie, distort the truth, or make excuses.

There are many reasons why we choose not to be truthful or not stand by our word.  Are you afraid that you won’t make the sale, get what you want/need, or win the approval of others?  TAP!