June 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
Are you terrified to fly? Do you avoid any travel that involves flying, or at least wish you could? It is possible to get rid of your fear of flying once and for all, as long as you are able to do these seven simple things:
1. Can you imagine yourself getting on an airplane when you are safe in the comfort of your home? Imagination is important in this process.
2. Are you willing to live through your fear one more time, but only in small, incremental doses that you can easily handle?
3. Do you know how to scan your body for tension and stress? If not, would you be willing to let someone show you? (It’s not hard at all.)
4. Do you have a good enough imagination to talk to the areas of your body in which you hold stress? Believe it or not, sometimes information is stored in our bodies and not in our minds, and getting that stored information can be key to releasing a fear.
5. Are you willing to be led through a simple tapping procedure on several areas of your body, from the top of your head to under your armpits, even if you might feel a little silly doing it?
6. Do you know how to observe your thoughts to see what gets triggered when you start feeling the fear?
7. Are you willing to at least try to forgive yourself for having a fear that has embarrassed you, inconvenienced you and let other people see you sweat?
If you can do all those things, or are willing to learn how, you are a perfect candidate to get rid of your fear of flying forever using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) . You can download a beginner’s manual here and see how far you get on your own, or you can do it even faster with an Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner.
When you use EFT (we call it “tapping”), you will not start with your fear of flying – that is too scary. Instead, you will start tapping on how you feel about even thinking about flying. We start that gently. EFT is known for many things, such as being extremely effective in a short amount of time, but it is also known for being so gentle that it is perfect to use even with very young children.
So we start the session by finding out how much it scares you to even think about feeling the feelings that come with flying. EFT clients rate the intensity of their feelings on a scale of 0 to 10, with zero being absolutely no intensity, and 10 being the strongest intensity they have ever felt. Every now and then, a client give me an intensity of 20 or 30 on a scale of 1 to 10. I get it – I’ve been there too for various fears in my life. And those “Over 10’s” end up doing just as well as everyone else. After you have rated the intensity of what you are feeling, we do a gentle tapping technique, along with stating some empowering affirmations, until you are no longer bothered by the thought that we are going to delve into a fear that may feel like it is part of you by now.
Next, a good practitioner will ask a few questions. How long ago did this fear start? Do you know what started it? Some people know exactly what started their fear, but many people have no idea. Either way is fine – we are just getting some background information here. If you don’t know where the fear is coming from, chances are this situation is making you feel a little crazy. But don’t worry, you aren’t crazy for being terrified of flying. Somewhere in your past, you made an association that flying equals a terrible thing happening; we just have to find the connection that is wreaking havoc in your life and open it up like the door of a cage.
Next we do more tapping. If there is an event that you associate with your fears, we will address that. Sometimes a tapping session is like opening up one little Russian nesting doll after another and finding that the cause of the fear lies nestled at the bottom of the smallest doll, just waiting to finally be seen and released. One client of mine had parents who travelled often and left her and her siblings home with her grandmother from a young age. For her, the worst thing that could have happened would have been that her parents wouldn’t return, since she really hated being with her grandmother. And the most obvious reason that they wouldn’t have come back for her would have been if their plane had crashed. By the time she was in her early 20’s and ready for her own travelling adventures, she had pushed her unpleasant experiences with her grandmother to the back of her mind, but she had also, without being aware of it, firmly linked flying with the expectation of death and she was terrified to get onto a plane. (She had excellent results in our work together, and now when she flies, she skips the cocktails and takes a peaceful nap instead.)
Other times, it is a memory of a past event that is causing the problem. I had another client who was on an overseas flight that hit serious turbulence without warning. The plane suddenly dropped 20 feet, and he watched a slightly built woman who was walking toward the back of the plane at that moment slam her head on the ceiling of the plane. Other passengers were jostled wildly. People were screaming and the flight attendants were so busy trying to keep themselves from flying through the air that they were not able to do much for the passengers. The turbulence did not last long, according to my client, but by the time his two weeks in Japan were over, he was dreading the return flight home. In his case, we tapped on every aspect of what he saw, heard, felt kinesthetically and felt emotionally during the event, until he could go through the entire sequence without feeling any charge. He is now back to flying for business and pleasure without any fear at all.
If a past memory is traumatic enough, the memory will not be encoded as words that can be spoken, but as pictures, strong emotions and bodily sensations that feel dangerous and chaotic. This is why no human can ever talk their way into a cure for a serious trauma; the trauma does not live in the part of the brain that talks. And if the past event was frightening enough, it can affect the areas of the brain that allow us to speak about the event. That’s why terrified people are not always articulate about what is scaring them. It’s not easy to live with this, but it’s just the way the brain works. Luckily, trauma can be healed with this process! A skillful practitioner will always check in with you to see how your body feels during a session because if you don’t have words for something, the body is carrying it for you, and it will be grateful for the opportunity to release what it has been holding all this time.
One funny thing about removing a fear is that we don’t always notice when it leaves. For this reason, when my used-to-be-afraid-of-flying clients are headed off for their first flight after our work together is completed, I will make every effort to be on call for them by phone when they are getting on their plane (no charge!). Every now and then there is a little bit of clean up work to do in order for my clients to feel 100 percent comfortable on their plane ride, but usually, they are done with their fear forever after three to five sessions.
It’s up to you, of course, but I would strongly encourage you to deal with any fears you have about flying because you don’t have to live with your fear for another minute, unless you want to. Download the EFT manual or call a practitioner. Work by Skype so you don’t have to get on a plane until your fears are gone. Let’s just get it done!!
May 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
We all know when we have the jitters – our stomachs feel unsettled, our palms sweat and our breathing speeds up. We are tense and it is impossible to relax. We are usually thinking about some event in the near future which has an uncertain outcome. We don’t know what’s going to happen, or if we will be able to face what happens, or if “they” will like us enough to give us the job, the part, the approval that we crave.
Why do we get the jitters anyway? Are they just part of being human? Well, yes and no. The only thing that can scare you is your thoughts. Sometimes thoughts come so quickly that we don’t even realize we are having them. But other times, we are painfully aware of each and every thought. And I say “painfully” because usually the thoughts that we find frightening are not supportive of us and our abilities.
I once worked with a writer I will call Cliff who was struggling to complete a screenplay. Someone at a well-known studio had expressed a lot of excitement about his project and was waiting to see the screenplay; however, Cliff found himself stuck in writing hell, day after day, staring at a blank piece of paper without having anything to write on it. When he came to see me on the recommendation of another client of mine, he was miserable but he didn’t know what was holding him back.
When we began tapping on his feeling of being stuck, the thoughts that floated through his head on a regular basis made themselves known. Without really being consciously aware of it, he was thinking thoughts such as, “I have no idea how to actually write this thing,” “This idea is wasted on me,” and “I am saving my reputation by not finishing this screenplay.”
Over the course of our work together, Cliff realized that what he thought was “stuckness” was actually paralysis caused by fear. Together we tapped on each limiting belief his mind came up with until he couldn’t think of any more. By the end of our first session, he was able to repeat each negative thought without feeling any sense of agreement with it. He also realized in our work together that many of these limiting thoughts were first spoken to him by various school teachers, who did not approve of his unorthodox (for middle school and high school) writing abilities.
At this point, Cliff was feeling encouraged about his screenplay, but we weren’t done yet. I asked him to come up with supportive beliefs that he felt would serve him better in his work. With encouragement, he came up with statements such as, “Writing on a daily basis allows my genius to shine through,” “I deserve success,” and “My persistence is what will make me successful.” In the beginning these statements felt overly bold to Cliff, but he was a good sport about giving my way a try since his way hadn’t worked so well!
Cliff quickly got back to writing and several months later he did sell his screenplay for a nice chunk of money. Yes, he was dazed and had a hard time believing his good fortune, but with this first success, he has found it much easier to write other screenplays because he now has solid physical proof that he can do it.
There was one other thing that Cliff and I discussed, which might have been the most important thing of all: No one has cornered the market on fear; we’re all scared. Fear in all its forms, from the jitters to outright terror, often seems to come with the territory of being human. The biggest problem with fear is that for some of us it represents a stop sign. The logic of the stop sign goes, “If I’m scared, there must be some danger here. I’d better rethink this.” All fear ever means for sure is that you are breaking out of your comfort zone. (It also proves you’re alive – once you are dead, you won’t have to worry about it again!) Certainly, do your due diligence and make sure you have protected yourself where you need to, but in our citified lives, usually, as the old saying goes, you should feel the fear and do it anyway. Sometimes it really is about keeping a stiff upper lip! Just know that keeping a stiff upper lip is a lot easier after you have addressed the hidden thoughts that are keeping the jitters going.
Here is the recap:
When you are scared:
1. Uncover the thoughts/beliefs that are causing the fear.
2. Do energy work to change the beliefs that are behind the thoughts.
3. Substitute those old limiting beliefs with new beliefs that support you and your abilities.
4. If you are still scared, and you have done your research, see the fear as the growing pains that come when we expand. Move forward anyway!
October 14, 2013 § 1 Comment
Have you ever been put on the spot by a request? How do you respond when someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do? Sometimes we can learn quite a bit about ourselves from seemingly insignificant encounters.
Last weekend I found myself in this very position, of needing to respond to a request that I didn’t want to accommodate. It was a Saturday morning, and I had dashed into Costco to buy a pair of knockoff Uggs for my daughter. I found the boots, tossed about five more items into my basket and headed for the check out. As I positioned myself in line, I glanced at the clock on my phone and noticed that I was running 10 minutes late for my next appointment. A few moments later, a woman took her place behind me in line. She was carrying one bag of dog food. Do you see where this is going?
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her eyeing my basket. Sure enough, when it was almost my turn to check out, she asked me if she could go ahead of me. I briefly weighed the circumstances: I had six things, while she had only one, but I was running late, and she had strolled up to the line, implying that all was well with her schedule. Oh – and I had gotten there first.
I told her in a friendly voice, “I’m sorry, but I’m running late. Otherwise, I would.” She frowned and snapped, “Yes, I’m sure you’re all heart on every day but today.” I was taken aback by her anger and, with a tight little shrug, said the first thing that popped into my mind. “Well,” I replied, “it’s just that I have heart for myself, too.” The woman took in my words and her face cleared. She softened and said, “That makes sense.” And that was it. I paid for my merchandise and left the store.
There was a time, many years ago, when I would have meekly allowed the woman to go ahead of me, simply because she wanted to. Then, more recently, during my surly period, I would have told her no just because I could. Had she snapped at me, I would have snapped back and tried to back her down with the force of my will. It would have been an unpleasant moment for both of us.
Then there came a time on my own personal path when I began to value my truth over my comfort. I discovered that if I give in to someone just to make things easy on myself, it isn’t the same thing as kindness. Instead of feeling generous, it makes me feel cowardly, wimpy, and resentful.
Now, in my coaching practice, I encourage my clients to tell the truth, especially in their intimate relationships. They are often afraid of the consequences – that if they voice their true feelings, it will start a fight, or they will be perceived as mean, or that they have no right to their opinion anyway. And, in a way, their fears of conflict are justified. Sharing our deepest feelings when everyone is in agreement is comforting and pleasurable, but when we are feeling attacked, our truth can seem inadequate and thin. In the instant between when I spoke honestly to the woman at Costco and when she softened, I felt vulnerable and too open. But the truth turned out to be the only solid ground available to me in that moment.
We learn who our true self is by sharing that person with others. When we share a false self, we don’t give our souls the information they need to grow. We lose the opportunity to see our true selves mirrored back to us by the person with whom we are interacting; however, the tremendous power of speaking truth is only available to us if we know what our truth is. Be open to what’s real for you in every moment, and rest in that truth like a boulder. Once you recognize your truth, you will see that it often changes from moment to moment like a flowing river. Every shift brings another opportunity for growth and self-awareness.
Truth, spoken from the heart, can heal a fractured moment in surprising ways, and we are all hardwired to need this type of communication above all others.
October 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
There is a lot of great advice out there on doing what you love, and maybe even finding a way to make money at it, and living happily ever after. Joseph Campbell popularized the idea in the ’60’s with the expression, “Follow your bliss.” This is wonderful advice, but for some of us, there is a step before following our bliss, and that is to figure out, what is our bliss? What if you don’t even know what you love with a great enough passion to pursue it wholeheartedly?
Discovering what your passion is often has different components. For some of us, one important aspect is uncovering parts of us that have been buried for so long that we’ve forgotten them.
Kids know what they love, and very often it isn’t what they are being taught in school. Or it is one subject out of many. In the educational system’s quest to make well-rounded citizens of our children, it forces every single subject on them with equal vigor. I’m not saying it’s bad to be well-rounded, but sometimes as adults, we have to do some digging to remember what we loved the most before we believed that we were supposed to be good at everything.
Or maybe your passion is something that you have not even been introduced to yet. If you have the slightest bit of interest in music, why not try a piano lesson? If you like the sound of Russian, try a class in it and see if you want to go further. If you can’t wait to watch the ice skaters every time the Winter Olympics comes on, why not get on the ice yourself?
On the other hand, sometimes we know exactly what we used to love, but feel that it would be impossible/useless/ridiculous to go back to it now. Who among us didn’t have a scary elementary school teacher who made us feel like we were bad at something that we genuinely liked doing? In my case, it was a 3rd grade teacher who was unnecessarily harsh when she graded my first poem (which I had been very proud of!). Or the role of buzz kill could have been filled by a parent, or even a classmate. Sometimes we become so convinced that we could never be one of the people we admire for their abilities that we give up without trying. And so our spark lies hidden, putting out energy that, instead of nourishing us, simply leaves us frustrated.
If you are in any of these categories and can’t figure out how to get your juice back, get yourself some coaching/healing on the issue! Nothing will spice up your life like doing what you love!
May 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
In my role as an EFT Practitioner, I often hear from people who are unhappy and discouraged about their lives. They are hoping for help in finding the energy to improve their life circumstances. Here is an email I received from Ron, a 911 Operator, and the advice I gave him.
I just finished reading your personal journey. ‘Wow’ is all I can say. I would also say that I wish I could be at the place you are at now, because in reality I’m at the place you were when you started.
To make a long story short, I was a 911 operator from 2002 until 2007. It was the worst 5 years of my life. I had a complete burnout. And now, things just seem to be getting worse. . . I’m having a very difficult time getting through my days. I don’t think I have the strength to do what you did.
I wrote down all the troublesome experiences that I can remember in my life. In total, I have over one hundred disturbing experiences to clear [with EFT]. I just cleared one of the experiences yesterday (it went from a 9 to a 2) but I felt shaky the rest of the day, as the process of clearing that event was mentally exhausting. A victory nonetheless, but the hill I have to climb seems so high. I just feel so fragile mentally.
I just saw your website, read your story and was hoping that you could give me any advice that could help get me through this really rough part of my life. I’ve been fighting to get better for the last 6 years, but the results are not what I’d hoped for. I’m getting weary and I could really use a good dose of hope right now.
Thank you and take care.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ron’s email is about the dark night of the soul, a time when there seems to be no way out of our suffering. This is a very tough place to be in, because as humans, we have a deep need to grow and to see the evidence inside and around us of that growth. When we don’t feel mentally and physically strong, and when we don’t know how we are going to turn things around, it is easy to sink into despair.
First, consider that hardship has its rightful place in your spiritual education, despite all the trumpeting about abundance and ease being our birthright (as in The Secret and other similar books). For one thing, great difficulty shows us how resilient we are. I once came across an online signature that said, “Damaged people are dangerous, because we know we can survive.” This knowledge, that we have been through hell and survived, is extremely powerful in allowing us the confidence to bear our future difficulties with hope and optimism.
Next, hardship also refines our characters. As Rumi says:
What sort of person says that he or she wants to be polished and pure, then complains about being handled roughly? You’ve heard that every buried treasure has a snake guarding it. Kiss the snake and discover the treasure! The severe treatment is not toward you, but the qualities that block your growth.
Not easy advice when you’re in the middle of the storm, but still empowering to remember nonetheless.
The third valuable aspect of tough times is that, in the process of healing, we discover compassion for each other, and perhaps more poignantly, for ourselves. Let me share an example from my own experience:
One day I was mowing my lawn, while at the same time steeped in my own private misery. While trudging morosely behind the lawnmower, I noticed with a start that I was an inch away from mowing over a caterpillar. In a flash, I swerved and mowed over my electrical cord instead, shredding it in the process. What did this mean for me? Even though I didn’t know what to do about my own distress, I could still avoid causing pain to another being. I also realized that, deep in my heart, I already understood that all life is valuable, including my own.
Getting back to Ron, here is the abridged version of what I told him:
1. Set your intention to weather this storm, and never give up. There is enormous power in this one act alone. You are a human being, and therefore, more brilliant than you know. You will get there in the end if you keep putting one foot in front of the other. I guarantee it.
2. Buy the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. She mentions many supplements you can take for anxiety and depression that will help you enormously, without the disruptive effects of prescription meds.
4. Don’t try to change everything at once. If you are feeling shaky after clearing something, give yourself a rest and know that you have earned it! Try to avoid stressful situations, if you can. On the other hand, if there is something that makes you happy, and it is available, legal and affordable, do it – a lot!
I am happy to report that I heard from Ron again a few weeks later. He has found an excellent EFT Practitioner in his area, and they are working together to get him back on his feet!
May 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
Choosing the right goal is an art; once you master that skill, you are unstoppable. But until you get it right, you might feel as though you are floundering.
Does your goal meet each of these criteria?
1. You know you can probably reach your goal, but you aren’t entirely sure. Everything is more interesting when we don’t know how it is going to turn out – movies, novels, goals. Be willing to live on the edge of your confidence. If you spend enough time there, you will find yourself changing from fearful victim to self-directed doer. Be brave and go for it!
2. Doing what you need to do to reach your goal makes you nervous. The actions you need to take don’t necessarily come naturally, because you are going for something new that you haven’t already done before. If you worry about how you’ll be received in this uncharted territory, Bravo! You are right where you should be. Worthwhile goals call for daring and bold behavior.
3. You can map a clear course of action for your goal. At least for the next month or two, you have a good idea of everything that needs to be done and how you are going to try to do it. If you love your goal but have no idea how to reach it, you are working with too big of a chunk. Divide it up into baby steps and make a clear plan.
4. Your goal is the right size. If it’s too big, you will get lost in it. You won’t be able to map it or even picture yourself achieving it. On the other hand, if it is too small, you won’t get that crazed sense of excitement that tells you this is a goal worth achieving. If it is the right size, you will be able to dig in with conviction and focus.
5. Your goal matters to you. How do you know if your goal really matters to you? Getting closer will make your pulse race and your energy rise. You will feel excited at the thought of achieving it, without taking yourself through a lot of fancy New Agey visualization exercises. On the other hand, the inevitable failures and rejection will not overwhelm your desire to achieve your goal if it is important enough to you.
6. You have tested your goal. Before you commit to a goal, live with it for awhile to see if it meets the above criteria. If it does, go for it! If it doesn’t, analyze it to see where it falls short and use that feedback to try again. If choosing a good goal seems difficult, take heart: you are really creating and directing this era of your life when you set goals. When it is put it that way, it’s easier to justify all the time and attention that goes into choosing a good goal.
February 6, 2012 § 2 Comments
When our goals are working properly they function as a sort of compass for us; they give us direction as to how we should direct our thoughts and our energy. They help us choose the best action in any given moment. Even the work of choosing our goals brings enormous clarity and insight into our lives.
Good goals also keep us grounded and focused on taking action as opposed to living in our heads. When you have a goal that you are really passionate about, you will willingly go outside of your comfort zone to accomplish it. A goal like that gives you an anchor for your thoughts. It is something that you can direct your thoughts to over and over, and doing that will help you stay out of those dark and difficult places that past trauma tries to take us to.
2. Goals give you leverage on yourself.
After working with many, many people who are struggling to recover from trauma, I have learned that the people who heal the fastest are the ones who have a goal that the aftereffects of trauma is preventing them from achieving. Trauma is much easier to heal when it stands between you and something that you really want, so put something on the other side of your trauma that you would really like to have! That’s what I mean by leverage. It is so much easier to push through difficult times when you have a compelling WHY. Use your natural desires to speed up your healing!
3. Goals help you diagnose constriction in yourself.
What does that mean? Trauma by its very nature is constrictive. It tenses our muscles; it makes our breathing shallow; it even narrows our field of vision. Emotionally, it makes us brittle – less flexible and less resilient. On the other hand, the attainment of goals is expansive in nature. In order to achieve our goals, we must take action outside of ourselves. Whether we need to learn a new skill, form new relationships, or just narrow our focus on something outside of ourselves, we expand as we reach toward our goal.
So if you find, in the act of going after what you want, that you become fearful, angry, or triggered, that’s a good indication that you have found one of your constricted areas. This is great, because it gives you the ability to address that unhealed part of yourself. Going after our goals brings up into our awareness the parts of ourselves that are unhealed, which in turn tells us where to direct our attention in our healing work. Plus, it helps us to get whatever it is that we want – a true win-win situation!
Assignment: Think about what you want so badly that you would step out of your comfort zone for it. I would love to hear what that is for you!