Would you rather have your problems right in your face or at a more manageable distance?
Most people would prefer to have room to breathe and think about their difficulties.
When we think, or talk, about the challenges in our lives we tend to focus on the story of the problem. We get sucked in to the difficulty caught in the swirl of thoughts and feelings about the problem.
But there are two words that can make the difference between being gripped by our problem or being able to hold it at arm’s length.
These words are so familiar that you probably never even notice them.
One of the problems introducing people to EFT is that after learning the tapping they don’t use it on a regular basis because they can’t figure out how to construct tapping statements.
They don’t know what areas of the stressful situation to focus on and what words to use in their tapping statements.
At the Spring ChangeCamp 2015 I ran an introductory workshop for EFT. I decided to use the opportunity to try out a minimalist approach to tapping to see if it would be possible to have a simple tapping process that beginners would use.
One of the participants said they would be willing to help with the demonstration.
I asked her to think of her stressful situation and give it an emotional intensity score from 0 – 10. She said it was a 9 out of 10.
Then I asked her to describe the situation in just one word.
If you are suffering from stress, anxiety, frustrations and limitations you probably want that to change, to change quickly and to change completely. The more intense the distress the more urgent the need to change feels.
So it’s not surprising that lots of advertising in the self-development / self-help world claims to “halve your stress”, “double your happiness”, “clear your limitations” within hours or days if you just buy their product or services.
But, what if you could easily make those kinds of changes by slowing down and doing less?
It may seem unlikely, but making tiny changes over time can make huge differences in your life.
In every painful situation, there are two sorts of suffering.
The pain of the circumstances and our resistance to the situation (including our lack of compassion to ourselves).
The pain of the situation is easy to understand.
Our grief, disappointment, anger, guilt, shame and all those other challenging emotions are easy to see and feel.
However, our resistance to the situation and lack of compassion for ourselves can be harder to see, although their effects are just as debilitating.
Although EFT/Tapping makes good use of our body and mind’s natural abilities to quickly soothe painful emotional states, we can easily be caught up in self-criticism and judgement of ourselves for having the problem in the first place. We may be so used to this self-criticism that we barely notice it.
When we are with someone else who is suffering we may feel very accepting and compassionate of them and their distress and have a strong wish to ease their pain.
However, when we have a problem or experience some distress, we might not feel quite so accepting or compassionate of ourselves as we do of others.
Instead of being kind to ourselves we might think that it is wrong for us to have this problem. We might believe that being in this situation proves that we are bad, pathetic or unacceptable as a human being.
Not only do we suffer the problem we can even feel bad about feeling bad: we are a problem having a problem.
Falling off a bike can hurt in more ways than one
Recently I saw a sad demonstration of how this lack of self-compassion starts. When I was walking the dog one afternoon I saw a young schoolgirl fall off her bike, she landed in a heap, stood up and started to cry.
Life is like a vast landscape with both soft grass and sharp thorns; impatience rails against the thorns, patience puts on shoes
Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain
Life can be challenging.
We all have so many things to do, places to go, people to see and there is not a moment to lose … and then the world gets in the way.
Then we find ourselves in a long slow queue of traffic, or the person we have to talk to is taking an age to get to the point, or we need to finish a task and someone else is dragging their feet.
With so much to do and so many obstacles in our way it’s easy to get impatient; to seethe at the inefficiency of the world and the incompetence of the people around us. While delays are inevitable, seething can be optional.
Patience is the capacity to deal with difficulties, delays and discomforts without becoming aggravated. It acts as an internal shock absorber when things aren’t going according to our plan.
Impatience is a toxic brew of unpleasant feelings, a sense of pressure or urgency and a feeling of not being in control.
It spawns all sorts of unpleasant reactions in us and towards the circumstances, or people, we hold responsible for those situations.
can’t stand discomfort
is angry and resistant
wants relief or satisfaction, and wants it now!
focuses its attention on what is wrong
is tolerant of physical and emotional discomfort
is at ease with the situation
has its eye on the wider picture
One way of cultivating patience is to diminish the power of impatience.