Growing your spirit in tough conditions

Use your thoughts, beliefs and imagination as fertilizer for your soul.

Use your thoughts, beliefs and imagination as fertilizer for your soul.

I love spring. Seriously, I really love it. Here in Colorado, the snow is finally starting to melt and the first signs of rebirth are emerging on the landscape.

Glimpses of the Earth’s awakening are everywhere, from tiny green buds on the trees to the appearance of baby squirrels in the back yard. I find these reminders of spring comforting and inspiring especially when I take the time to notice them.

For example, yesterday I noticed a small patch of grass that sprouted up against the back wall of my building at work. In the middle of an untended and unused alleyway, this little plant pushed through mud and concrete to bask in the morning sun. The grounds crew does not tend to it. There is no fertilizer applied. Instead, one lone grass seed decided that conditions were right for it to sprout and grow.

The same thing applies to your spirit. Your soul has the amazing ability to turn any situation into fertile soil that helps you grow and develop. Where you see negativity and turmoil, your soul sees a nutrient-rich environment, selecting those ingredients that benefit your highest purpose and service to the universe.

Too often in self-development, we tend to concern ourselves with creating the perfect environment before feeling secure enough to grow. We concentrate on the barriers to growth and try unsuccessfully to control the world around us before allowing our own fulfillment.

The nutrients your soul craves are the positive thoughts, images and beliefs that come from your inner self. When you take the time to cultivate—consciously cultivate—positive and constructive thought forms, you automatically fertilize the very world you live in. No matter the physical circumstances you find yourself in, you can use your thoughts and beliefs to change your outer environment. Your spirit can flourish in any environment…if you allow it.

 

 

 

 

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Have a talk with yourself

 

We spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to convince others of our worthiness. We talk, write, sell, present and plead for others to see us for who we are.

But those actions only speak to the ego. They are false ideas of the self.

To live from a truly authentic place, you need to convince yourself of your own worthiness. You need to see it first-hand. You need to understand and feel your own worth and place in the universe. You must keep your mind focused on your own sense of value and learn to believe in it wholeheartedly.

When you do, others will automatically see you for who you are: a beautiful extension of All That Is. Pure energy. Pure brilliance. Pure love.

 
convinceworthiness

Death of the salesman

The sales pitch started over coffee.

Actually, it started over spilled coffee. I had unscrewed the carafe on my coffee pot a little too far causing the entire pot of hot java to spew across the counter and onto my freshly pressed slacks. It was going to be one of those days. Moments earlier I thought how good I looked–almost like a salesman—coiffed and polished and ready to take on anything.

“Really? This is how the day is going to start?” I asked of the universe. I didn’t expect an answer but felt that asking the question would somehow quell any further drama. I tried to brush off my anger and simply get on with the day. No sense in crying over spilled coffee.

Not willing to go without my ritual coffee, I decided to head over to the local coffee shop. As I walked in, I saw one of my favorite baristas, Karen, a young woman who always has a smile on her face and a cheerful attitude. I greeted her as warmly as I could without any coffee in my system.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Oh my God! I’m so tired this morning. I didn’t sleep a wink and I feel like I’m in a fog. I have a paper due for class later today and I didn’t even get it finished,” she replied. Her response was like projectile negativity, it came out hard and fast and messy. She was trying desperately to sell me on the idea that her morning was rough.

It almost worked until my own inner salesman stepped forward. He quickly realized he could outsell her. She was but a mere amateur. He stooped down to her level as he started his sales pitch.

“Oh I know. I’ve been having trouble sleeping for a week and feel like a walking zombie. My dog just had surgery and I’ve been so worried about him and now I’m headed to work and it’s going to be a crazy, crazy day. Did I mention the dog might have cancer?”

It didn’t stop there. We traded tales of woe for about five minutes while she prepared my order, trying to out-do each other with how terrible the day was and how much worse it was going to get.

“Wow, I had no idea,” she told me. My salesman had won this round. I took my order to go and headed to the office.

Moments later, I was talking out loud to the universe again. This time, I was complaining about the lack of parking near my office. Why aren’t there any parking spaces? Why do I always have to park on the street? I’ll probably end up with a ticket by noon. Why do they always have to lock the back door? Why…. Why… Why….

I looked forward to an evening out with my mom and aunt. The two had just returned from vacation and I was excited to hear about their adventure. But as we sat down for dinner, the conversation quickly turned to my problems. I told them about my job, my hatred of my job, my dog and his surgery and generally anything that could convince them that life pretty much sucked.

The salesman had returned yet again, wanting to close another deal. He wouldn’t be satisfied until he convinced everyone that life does indeed suck and that they should buy into that concept wholeheartedly. Instead of money or a fat bonus, my salesman sought different kinds of commissions: pity, nurturing, understanding and sympathy. He earned his commission easily over dinner.

Driving home, however, I finally woke up to the salesman’s presence. I had grown so accustomed to his actions and to his sales pitch that I didn’t even realize he had accompanied me all day. I thought back to his presentations, remembering each interaction where he sought to change people’s minds. I remembered his actions, the feeling in his voice and the high-pressure tactics he used to sell his wares. Who exactly was this salesman and where did he come from? I wondered as I pulled in the driveway.

As I undressed for bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Suddenly the salesman had a name, a personality. Finally I knew whom I was dealing with. There he was, standing naked before me: the salesman was my ego.

He’s a clever guy, that ego. He had been wearing my clothes, acting like “me” and taking on my personality. In actuality, he had taken over my personality and I unwittingly became part of his growing sales force. Our goal: to convince others that life is hard, that you can’t get ahead no matter how hard you try and that the universe is always working against you.

Seeing my ego for what it was, I could then get a better grasp on this whole “reality creation” business I write about. Reviewing my day, I thought about all of the times I silently (or sometimes loudly) questioned the universe about my problems. I revisited the conversations I had with others when I shared my challenges, my frustrations and my lack of conviction. I saw all too clearly that I was arguing for my own limitations. And what shocked me most of all was the realization that I wasn’t just trying to convince others that the universe was against me, I was trying to convince myself.

I’m not trying to bash the ego, for I believe it serves a valuable purpose. It is designed to help us navigate the physical world, to help us make sense of it and to work with the intellect and our spirit to create the life we experience. But the ego gets rigid and frightened, and when it does, it overreacts. The ego has a limited scope, unable to see the big picture of the universe like other parts of our spirit can.

The ego likes justification. So those times when we feel stuck and unable to move forward, the ego ups the sales pitch a few notches, telling the world, “See! I told you so. There’s no way out of this mess!” A deceptive sales pitch? You betcha, but it’s an effective one.

When we use language to convince others of our limitations, we end up limiting ourselves further. When we habitually complain about our problems, we end up causing more of them. When we justify unsavory events as happening to us, we create more of the same. It’s a vicious cycle and if it’s not intercepted, it ends up causing more damage.

Take note of your own words and thoughts. Are you arguing “what is” in order to feel justified? Do you tell others about your problems in hopes of gaining sympathy? Are you acting like a salesman or saleswoman, convincing others that you have it worse off than anyone else?

If you find yourself answering affirmatively to any of these statements, you are becoming adept at sales. In these cases, you’re not out to convince anyone but yourself of your limitations, so it’s time to switch to a new strategy.

Try a new sales technique, a gentler one. I don’t necessarily mean becoming Pollyanna and lying about how you feel, but rather gently switching your focus to telling the story you want to live. Talk about things that are true and positive. Remember what you love and enjoy and tell others about them. Above all, remind yourself constantly that just because things aren’t going your way doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for positive change. There is room for change and talking about it in the affirmative helps get the energy moving in that direction.

As for my own salesman, I’ve decided to let him switch careers. I now see him as a “leadership trainee,” showing others that it’s possible to live a good life. His technique will be that of example, letting others see, first-hand, how good life can be and letting them ask, “what’s your secret?” No more selling for this ego, he’s retired from that position.

Now about that commission….

 

 

 

 

Learning to tap dance

Shirley Temple was onto something. That perky little girl in old black and white movies always looked at life in a positive manner and found reason after reason to tap dance her way through any difficulty.

No, I’m not going to put on patent leather shoes and do a little jig across the living room floor.  I’m not that coordinated…or perky.

I will, however, sing the praises of a self-development tool called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), commonly known as “tapping.” The technique is used for releasing emotional traumas and negative/limiting beliefs as well as for intercepting physical and emotional pain. It looks silly and a lot of times it feels silly to do it, but in many cases, it works. I’ll explain the process shortly.

I learned about tapping years ago when I saw a YouTube video about the process. The video host, Jessica Ortner, promised it could help things like headaches, tension, stress and a host of other ailments. At the time, I was engrossed in researching any type of self-development tool on the market and I learned the basics through websites and a few free videos.

Like many self-development tools, you only get out of the process what you put into it, and I wasn’t really feeling too anxious about anything in particular. So I tapped a few times, labeled the process as “interesting” and filed it away in the back of my brain. There it sat with other things I have tried over the years, including meditation, the Sedona Technique, yoga, and other spiritual/development processes that promise self-fulfillment and peace.

Fast forward to last week, when I was feeling more stressed than I had in years. Work was out-of-this-world crazy and busy, my home life was distressing thanks to a bad roommate situation and my dog was just home from surgery and needing to recover. I was angry at the world and angry with myself and felt like I had no refuge in which to hide.

For the previous few weeks, I turned to medicine to relieve my stress. Painkillers and muscle relaxants helped ease the physical stress in my body but the effectiveness was quickly wearing off. I was also not sleeping without the use of some pretty heavy-duty sleeping pills–something that worried me. So when I found myself sleep deprived, anxious and tense, I knew something was going to give.

Monday, I reached my limit. I snapped at coworkers and yelled at my best friend (my little dog, Bloo). Muscles in my back started to spasm and I could barely turn my neck from side to side. Knowing I still had work to do that night that would require concentration, I knew I couldn’t medicate myself into oblivion so I started thinking about alternative ways to get me back on my feet.

That’s when tapping/EFT came to mind. I had recently recommended the process to an acquaintance who complained of migraine headaches but I had otherwise not thought about using EFT on myself. Remembering the simplicity of EFT, I sat down on the couch and started tapping.

The technique

The premise to EFT/tapping is simple. You think about—out loud—something that’s bothering you and begin tapping the pads of your fingers on specific points on your head, neck and torso. The points correspond to meridian points used for centuries in Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Meridian points are considered “energy centers” where the body stores and regulates the pulses of electricity that make up our universe (the “life force” of our physical universe).

As you begin tapping rhythmically on these meridian points, you send signals to your brain and body to relax. The body calms and energy starts flowing normally through your system. As I noted, it’s not too unlike acupuncture but without the needles. The process begins with a set-up statement, where you acknowledge the problem before you as well as a reminder that you “accept yourself deeply and completely.” After the set-up statement, you tap through the points on your head, working your way down the body as you talk about the problem aloud.

When I began tapping, I was reminded of the silliness of the process. It feels weird to do it the first few times, although I remembered easily the meridian points and the process itself. Wanting anything that might give me relief, I tapped through several rounds on my most pressing issues.

Those several rounds turned into over an hour of work. I tapped on feeling overwhelmed at work, I tapped on the stress with my roommate, I tapped on the feeling of helplessness I felt for my recovering puppy. After every few rounds of tapping, I checked the effectiveness of the session, using a 0-10 scale of intensity to see if I was making progress. I was.

I kept at it for almost two hours, with a few breaks thrown in for good measure. And in the end, I was…tired. I had reduced my stress to a “0” or “1” on most issues and I felt an ease and comfort in my body that I hadn’t felt in quite a while. My body had released a great amount of tension and I felt free. I was also sleepy and decided to jump into bed and capitalize on the feeling. That night, I slept eight solid hours without a sleeping pill or Advil and woke up feeling great.

As luck would have it, or more accurately as Law of Attraction would have it, the next day I saw an advertisement for a new book on tapping from Nick Ortner, one of the big names in EFT/tapping. His book, The Tapping Solution, had just been published that week and I noted the synchronicity. The Tapping Solution is an excellent introduction to the modality of tapping and takes the reader through the common uses for tapping as well as provides sample scripts to read while banging away at the head and chest.

Going deeper

While I had great success the first night of using tapping, my next attempt wasn’t so fruitful. I tried to tap on recurring issues that were bothersome but not intense, and felt like I wasn’t making any headway. Using guidance from Ortner, I pressed on and continued to look for the root causes of my stress and the beliefs behind them.

The Tapping Solution is a great resource for anyone studying conscious creation. The precepts are the same: identify limiting beliefs you may hold and either release them or change them into positive beliefs. At the same time, you can learn to let go of emotions, memories and blockages that keep you from feeling healthy, centered and strong.

On the second night of tapping, I began to develop a throbbing muscle spasm in the middle of my back. I tried a round of tapping with a general focus on the spasm itself as well as the pain it was causing. After 15 minutes, the pain was still there and the muscle would not relax. So, I tapped on my frustration that tapping wasn’t working and that I’d be stuck with this ailment for quite a while. Again, there was little relief.

Intuitively, I knew that I wasn’t going deep enough. I believed my emotions and thoughts were causing the back pain but I couldn’t seem to connect with the right emotion, belief or memory that was causing the tension. I took a break and let my subconscious play with the thought while I brushed my teeth. That’s when I had my mini “ah ha” moment. The pain had started a few days earlier when I took the dog to the vet.

My first reaction was that the spasm was simply a pulled muscle, caused by lifting the 113 lb. dog into the back of my truck. A pesky little voice inside my head said there was more too it, however.

I sat down and tapped again. This time, I focused on my feelings about the dog, noting sadness about him having surgery and a feeling of fear about the diagnosis. I also became conscious of a helpless feeling, not knowing exactly how I was going to keep him well during his recovery.

I consciously and slowly tapped through all of these feelings, checking every few minutes for improvement in my back. On the last round, I tapped on the feeling of guilt. I felt guilty for him not being able to run and play while he healed and wondered if I was giving myself sympathy pain, constricting my own movement in a show of sympathy. I tapped one more round when I felt the shift.

Just like that, the muscle relaxed. I felt the pain go from an “8” to a “0” in just under two minutes. I had found the “in” I was looking for.

It’s not a sweet trip to the candy shop, it’s hard work

Much of Ortner’s book sounds like an infomercial for EFT/tapping. Story after story of successful EFT experiences sounds impressive until you reach a roadblock in your own development. Still, there are a lot of scientific and medical studies to back-up the claims on EFT and thousands of satisfied customers who have used tapping to move through tough issues and physical challenges.

As he explains in the book, tapping is best used consistently and thoroughly. Ortner lays out questions to ask yourself about a myriad of subjects including health, relationships, finances, phobias, trauma and more. This is where the real work begins. After identifying symptoms, emotions, memories and beliefs, you tap on each area until you feel relief.

Sometimes there are great shifts in energy—such as my back relaxing—and sometimes it’s a more subtle energy shift that takes a few days to recognize.

For example, I worked specifically on my neck pain for several days. I attributed the problem to a lack of sleep and poor sleep habits but knew deep down that the culprits were more likely to be emotional congestion and limiting beliefs. Round after round, I tapped on many pressing issues related to work and home life and after a few days, I was able to turn my head in all directions and the pain started to subside.

In the past several days, I’ve started digging deeper into my own psyche, taking notebook in hand to write down my beliefs about different challenges including finances, relationships, work, motivation and finally a resistance to change.

The tapping continues.

Is tapping a cure-all for every problem you encounter? Probably not. But it is an effective tool to have in your self-development arsenal if you’re truly dedicated to bettering your life. And if all else fails, you can put on those patent leather shoes and dance around the living room. Couldn’t hurt, could it?

Resources

For a general introduction to tapping, including a short video on the meridian points, visit Nick Ortner’s website.

In this YouTube video, you can see Nick Ortner work with the queen of self-help, Louise Hay, as she taps on a childhood memory. I was particularly taken with this video as it shows that even the most pioneering self-help guru can still be held back with emotional and physical pain. This is one of those rare therapy moments where you can actually witness someone transforming her life in real time. 

Brad Yates is an EFT/Tapping coach who works with athletes, children and everyday clients to help them overcome emotional and physical challenges. His YouTube channel has a host of videos to get you started on basic tapping scripts.

You can get The Tapping Solution at national booksellers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Hay House

Disclosure:

Although I frequently review books as part of the Hay House Book Nook program, I purchased a copy of The Tapping Solution myself. I was not compensated in any way for this endorsement in my blog.