Welcome to the Toxin:
Chronic Stress and Habitual Negative Thought Patterns,
Quick-fix Attitude Adjustment Tools
Sometimes we need a "quick fix;" tools we can immediately implement no matter where we are or what we're doing when an unproductive thought or feeling attempts to overcome us. These are my favorites:
- Meridian Tapping: Also known as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and created by Stanford-trained engineer Gary Craig,[i] meridian tapping has its origins in Dr. Roger Callahan's Thought Field Therapy, or TFT.[ii] When using meridian tapping techniques, considered "energy psychology," the practitioner, using their finger tips, taps on specific acupuncture points, reciting a script or affirmations.
- FasterEFT: While Gary Craig's EFT, or what is now called "Gold Standard EFT," was the first tapping protocol I learned thanks to Gary's sharing of his EFT Manual free of charge, my preferred EFT protocol comes from Robert G. Smith: FasterEFT.[iii] EFT in Robert's protocol stands for Emotionally Focused Transformations. Robert Smith's tapping paradigm differs from Gary Craig's in that while classic EFT is rooted primarily in TFT, FasterEFT is rooted in Neuro Linguistic Programming.[iv] While classic EFT sees problematic emotions and feelings as being the result of a disruption in the body's energy system and follows the philosophy that tapping on specific acupoints corrects this disruption, the FasterEFT paradigm sees problems as a creation of the mind, which makes the problem feel real inside the body, and considers that the cause of all problems begins with our perception. FasterEFT rewrites or "flips" the problematic memories into empowering memories.[v] The FasterEFT protocol distills the meridian tapping sequence down to just the five essential acupoints.[vi] Personally, the FasterEFT philosophy and protocol make so much more sense to me, and I've seen firsthand how rapid and effective it is in flipping a problematic or "negative" thought or feeling into a positive one. Like EFT, FasterEFT can be learned and mastered for free thanks to online resources.[vii]
- The Sedona Method® /Release Technique: The developer of the "letting go" technique, Lester Levenson,[viii] was a 42 year old physicist who suffered what his doctors thought was his last heart attack; they sent him home to die in 1952, telling him they'd done all they could for him. Lester was having none of that; he began searching for answers and discovered that the root of his problems were his own feelings and his tendency to hold them in and deny them. He also discovered that he could, by choice, let go of those feelings just as easily as a person gripping a pencil can willingly open their hand, allowing the pencil to drop. Practicing his technique, he was healed within three months, and lived nearly 42 more years in vibrant health. During his lifetime Lester trained several people in his letting go technique, two of whom went on to write books and develop training courses to teach others about this amazingly simple yet effective strategy. One of Lester's students, Hale Dwoskin, calls Lester's technique The Sedona Method® [ix] and wrote a book by the same name. Another student of Lester's is Larry Crane, who calls the technique The Release Technique[x]; his book explaining the technique is titled The Abundance Book. Each of the two teachers offers their own unique style and twist on Lester's letting go technique; many people find they prefer one teacher's style over the other. Before investing in the products of either author, you can borrow their books from your local library or watch their YouTube videos.[xi] My personal preference is Hale Dwoskin's Sedona Method®. While reading the books will give you the detail and nuance to truly appreciate this method, in its simplest form, the technique uses the following formula[xi]
- Gratitude: Even when we are in the depths of despair, recalling and focusing on the good in our lives creates an immediate shift from unproductive thoughts and feelings to productive, empowered thoughts and feelings. The year my daughter was treated for medulloblastoma I frequently found myself grateful for: her age at diagnosis-younger medulloblastoma patients tend to have less favorable outcomes than those diagnosed at an older age; her strong-willed nature-she was determined to survive and thrive; every person, known and unknown, who reached out to support us in any way they could; my having made major changes to our diet and found local resources for grass-fed and pasture-raised animal products and organic produce the year before the diagnosis...Even today, when I take time to "count my blessings," I feel better and do better. According to researchers Michael McCullough and Giacomo Bono, the following techniques have been found to enhance feelings of gratitude[xiii]:
o Keeping a Gratitude Journal to record things for which you are grateful
o Thinking about someone for whom you are grateful
o Writing and sending a letter to someone for whom you are grateful
o Meditating on gratitude
o Undertaking the "Count Your Blessings" exercise by writing down three things for which you are grateful at the end of the day or week
o Practicing saying "thank you" in a sincere and meaningful way
o Writing thank you notes
religious, praying about gratitude
Why make gratitude a daily practice?
- Gratitude is associated with
improved physical health:
A fascinating study shows how gratitude lowers a specific biomarker, hemoglobin
A1c, which is an indicator of blood sugar regulation.[xiv]
You want this marker to be below 5.7; as it increases so does your risk of
developing type II diabetes. Gratitude has also been associated with a
strengthened immune system as well as engagement in beneficial health practices
such as following a nutrient-dense diet, exercising regularly, and scheduling
regular physical examinations.[xv]
- Gratitude is associated with
improved mental health:
A noted psychologist in the field of gratitude studies, Dr. Robert Emmons, has
found people who find things about which to be grateful in their daily lives
have improved social interactions, increased happiness, reduced depression, an
increase in empathy, and a decrease in aggression.[xvi]
- Forgive and Apologize: No discussion of emotional cleansing is complete without acknowledging the benefits of forgiving and apologizing. Indeed, forgiving and apologizing are so crucial to our emotional wellbeing they could well have been placed at the top of this list. I've listed them down here because sometimes we need tools to release any blocks we have against apologizing to, or forgiving others. If you are experiencing such a conundrum, employing the Sedona Method and/or FasterEFT can help release those blocks and pave the way for apologizing and forgiving with ease. Guided imagery is also a powerful tool for helping to release any blocks that prevent you from making amends or from forgiving others or yourself.
Hawaiian tradition teaches Ho'oponopono, a tool for making amends and practicing forgiveness and reconciliation. The approach, in its simplest terms, uses the following phrase, recited over and over: "I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you." There are scores of Ho'oponopono guided imagery videos available for free on YouTube.[xvii]
The emotional and physical benefits of both apology[xviii] and forgiveness[xix] are vast and include lower blood pressure, lower mortality rates, improved sleep, increased quality of relationships, and improved overall wellbeing. Think about it: making amends with someone you've wronged or forgiving someone who has wronged you are extraordinarily freeing acts of releasing past wounds and moving forward into an emotionally lighter, brighter future.
Sometimes the person to whom we wish to apologize, or whom we wish to forgive is no longer in our lives. Don't let that keep you from freeing yourself of old and grudges and guilt. Like wearing a backpack full of useless junk, all those little regrets and grudges become heavy and burdensome as we carry them around all the time. Release them into the ether by writing a letter you'll never send and instead, burn it as a symbol of the release you're allowing.