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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Dark Secret of Willpower


When we get ready to change a habit--say, eating healthy food, quitting smoking, or starting to exercise--we usually think of willpower as a muscle.  As in, the more you exercise it, the more you'll have. 

But the dark secret of willpower is, it's actually like fuel in a car.  As in, it runs out after a while. 

Why is this?  And more importantly, where's the willpower station where you can get a fill-up? 

Knowing why willpower runs out, and how to refill your willpower tank, can be the difference between succeeding or failing at changing your habits.  

The why of diminishing willpower is easy.  It's about energy.  It literally takes fuel for our brain to run.  The brain is, ounce for ounce, the biggest user of calories in the body. 

The brain wants very much to be energy efficient, just like we want our gas-powered engines to be.  So it automates everything possible.  Anything the brain has to think about--taxes, to-do lists, even what to have for lunch--uses fuel. 

When you start to make changes in those automatic processes, like choosing to change what you eat or to be more active, you're messing up your brain's MO of staying on autopilot to conserve energy. 

That's why willpower, at the beginning of any habit change, is like the fuel in your tank.  You're using it to literally power through your old unconscious behaviors and create new, consciously chosen ones.  That not only requires thinking through choices--sometimes it creates stress too.  Stress is another energy-suck.   

When your willpower tank is dry, you're at risk of reverting to autopilot. That often means falling back into the habits you were trying to change. 

So how can you get a fill-up?

Healthy food and rest are crucial because they literally restore our reserves. Support from others, like family, friends, or groups, helps when our willpower's running low.

But there are two more ways to refill your willpower tank. 

One is to help the poor brain by making processes automatic.  Pack your new healthy lunch so you don't have to make a choice at lunchtime when you're already hungry.  Put your gym bag by the front door so you can't miss it on your way out.

The second way is to turn using willpower into something very rewarding instead of something really taxing.  Many habit-change programs advise giving yourself a reward when you reach a milestone, like a certain weight or exercise goal.

Here's a novel approach using the same idea: try keeping track of how many times you make good willpower choices, and celebrate those as well--because the more you use your willpower, the faster it becomes an energy-efficient, automatic process. Once good choices are automatic, your goals are easier to reach.

I use tapping to celebrate and congratulate myself when I successfully use my willpower.  That makes using willpower fun and rewarding instead of a chore. 

Tap along while you brag on yourself like a proud kindergartner:  "Look at me!  I made a good choice just now!  Yay for me, it's so amazing that I can do this. I get a gold star."  Having fun and celebrating fills up our fuel tank.  Tapping turbocharges the process and releases stress. 

With a willpower fill-up, you're ready to go.

11:52 am cdt          Comments

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Extreme Fad

Is it just me, or have you noticed how popular it's become to call absolutely everything 'extreme'?  Just Googling the word 'extreme' returned hits ranging from 'extreme couponing' to 'extreme pizza'. 

My favorite might be 'extreme yoga'--pretty much the very opposite of what yoga is about! 

Extreme has become a great buzzword to sell ideas and products. It makes everything sound so provocative and exciting when we add it in front of our ordinary activities.  Today I'm not just a newsletter writer--I'm an Extreme Newsletter Writer!  Much better!

Yet, the whole concept of living a good life is one of balance.  When we are in balance, in flow, we're using all our resources with the greatest efficiency. 

Enough rest makes possible enough activity.  Enough energy depends on enough (not too much or little) nourishing food.  Our lungs draw in and send out breath; our hearts contract then rest.  Even the great wisdom traditions of the world teach concepts of balance to reach enlightenment.

So are we doing ourselves a disservice by yearning for the extremes?  What if we taught ourselves the art of balance?  Suppose we looked at everything in our lives--especially the things that worry or bother us-- as an opportunity to discover how we could best stay in balance instead of swinging to extremes?

Tapping is a great tool for finding, and staying in, the sweet spot of a balanced life. Taking better care of ourselves so that we can enjoy our lives more.  Moving through both the ups and the downs of each day with more grace and more peace. 

If you're looking for more balance and less extreme-ism in your life, let's explore together how tapping might help.

Click on comments below to add your thoughts.

10:46 am cdt          Comments

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's Not About The Food

If you're trying to change eating habits and patterns, lose or gain weight, you're probably very aware already of some of the traps.  You may have had many rounds of success or improvement, followed by reverting back to old habits and regaining weight--or losing weight you've worked hard to gain. Eating problems, whether not enough or too much, are two sides of the same coin.

We get so many mixed messages about weight.  Some of them are:

--We just haven't found the right diet, gym or support program yet

--We'd be successful if we just worked harder, had more self-discipline or willpower

--We're victims of the food industries

--We haven't yet found the right supplement or special food that will make this easy

--If we could just hit our weight goal, our life would be perfect

I've got a message for you too.  And this one can change the way you look at weight issues:

It's never about the food.

Our relationship to weight isn't really about food.  It's not about the "right" diets or miracle pills or foods.  It isn't even about what we eat or don't eat, for the most part (though of course I'm a big supporter of healthy eating!)

It's about the "stuff" we're carrying around inside.

 As EFT creator Gary Craig says, it's an inside job.  It's about the stuff that's holding us back, for which eating is a substitute, a distraction or even a numbing strategy.

Once we know that, we can go to work on what it's really about.  We don't have to chase after diets, programs, supplements and special foods.  We can learn to stop using our mental and emotional energy to distract, numb or soothe ourselves with food.

Every time we work through and release some of that inner stuff, we have more energy available to help us make the changes we really want to make.

If you're familiar with my Beach Ball concept, you can think of approaching weight loss in those terms.  (If you don't know how the Beach Ball works, read about it here.  And request your own Beach Ball Tapping worksheet here.)

When we are able to use less energy holding our Beach Ball under water (holding our negative memories, experiences and emotions at bay) we have more energy for what we really want to do in life.  And that helps us when we start making changes, like changing our eating habits, our exercise habits and our relationship to food.

No matter how you want to approach your weight, tapping can help you.  It helps on one level by giving you a 'pattern interrupt' strategy for the eating habits that tend to undermine your efforts. 

On another level, it helps by releasing the junk gunking up our inner systems--the unhelpful habits of thinking and feeling, the negative beliefs and programming, and the painful experiences that have ingrained those habits and patterns.

If you'd like tapping help to support whatever path you're taking to becoming healthier and eating better, I'm here to help. 

10:44 am cdt          Comments

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Good Multi-Tasking

I'm writing this on my first full day "back to work" after several weeks that have included home repair, travel, packing and moving everything in our house, and living out of suitcases. 

Now I'm sitting back in my home/office with boxes and boxes of things to unpack, and two weeks of un-done work and tasks waiting for me.

To say I'm feeling pressured would be putting it lightly. 

This morning, as each new to-do popped into my head, I realized my body was getting more and more tense, trying to multi-task and think of EVERYTHING that I felt needed to be done all at once!  

Lately I've begun to handle these times by doing a practice I think of as "meditative multi-tasking". 

It's actually a simple practice.  While you're doing whatever you're doing, play a game of staying simultaneously in the present moment.  Notice a few sounds or sights around you, then scan your body for how you feel physically (yes, you really can do this while also doing something like working on the computer or talking on the phone.)

Are you holding your breath?  Are you tense in your shoulders, neck, back, face?  How's your posture?  Don't worry about your mood for now, just notice your body.

The first thing you may notice is that you automatically take a deep breath.  It's normal to hold our breath when we are feeling under pressure. When you give your body permission, it will gratefully take that deep breath.

Next you may notice the places you've tensed up.  Now you get a chance to relax them.  See how much relaxation you can get, even while you're typing, eating a meal or sitting in a meeting.

We know that multi-tasking isn't actually a good way to work; it splits our attention and focus.  In fact we're not really multi-tasking, we're really chunking attention into very very small segments and rapidly shifting from one task or thought to another. 

It takes energy and it erodes the quality of our work. While we think we're getting a lot done, in fact we're usually adding to our sense of urgency and overwhelm.

But when we do this meditative multi-tasking, allowing our body to relax and breathe while we do a task, we can actually enhance our attention and focus and lessen our feeling of pressure.

Add tapping, and it's a perfect recipe.  After a short burst of work while simultaneously tuning in to your body, take a break and tap on what you've noticed.  Try a phrase like, "Even though I'm feeling under pressure and I'm holding my breath,, I accept myself anyway and it feels good to breathe." Tap one round, then go back to work.

I'll bet you'll notice a little burst of energy and focus!
10:49 am cdt          Comments

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 Meridian tapping techniques are currently considered complementary health approaches, not mainstream Western medicine. For current studies on EFT, TFT and other meridian tapping techniques, visit http://www.energypsych.org/?Research_Landing.  EFT and Meridian Tapping is not therapy or medicine.  My services are educational; I'm not a therapist, counselor or healthcare professional. I don't diagnose or treat. Tapping is not intended to take the place of psychological or medical care; it is intended to help you relieve stress to experience greater well-being.  Please consult a doctor or therapist for medical or psychological counseling needs.

Tap Into Yourself, LLC * Houston, TX * USA * Email us


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