The self-help shelves in book stores groan under the weight of so many books about changing your life for the better.
Most of us do want to change our lives for the better and I’ve learned, experimented and written a lot about self-help processes.
My preferred self-help tool is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), sometimes known as tapping.
If you don’t already know EFT then you might want to read: Why should I bother learning EFT?
This page is a round up of some of these approaches and techniques that I use and my philosophy of self-help which emphasises making patient progress overtime, an approach I think of as Slow Change.
Daily life is a succession of challenges and joys that we need to navigate to get to the next day. These challenges and the stress that goes with them may be big or small.
It’s obvious that some life events are going to take a toll on our health and well-being: divorce, bereavement, redundancy are all major life events that are often loaded with stress.
But even small stressors can have a cumulative effect, little by little eroding your emotional and physical well-being.
By making small and continuous efforts to relieve stress you can mitigate the compound interest of suffering, and lower the stress burden to become healthier, happier and more at ease.
Many people tend to wait until they cannot ignore the effects of stress or negative emotions before they do something about it.
Unfortunately we have an incredible capacity for getting used to things. Sometimes this is useful, but at other times our ability to put up with things until we break, leaves us in a very poor state to repair the damage, perhaps needing professional help to resolve our difficulties.
But you don’t have to wait until you need a practitioner or therapist to make emergency repairs. There is another way: by making a persistent effort over time to improve your emotional life we can reduce the stress burden and improve our level of emotional freedom.
Just as daily exercise may seem like a bit of a chore, it is a great way of preventing major medical problems down the line.
In the same way regular tapping on the small stuff can make a big difference, lowering your stress levels and enhancing your emotional stability.
One of the advantages of EFT is that you can start small, you don’t need to face your biggest demons at the start of your tapping career there are 7 reasons to start small with EFT so that you can make gentle and significant progress.
Another advantage of a regular self-help practice is that EFT becomes the first thing you think of when the going gets tough, not the last. Knowing how to tap is easy, you need to remember to tap in stressful situations to get the best from the technique.
Getting yourself to start
Having the desire to help yourself is the most important first step.
Unfortunately helping yourself means that you will have to change and many of us have a strong unconscious resistance to change.
For some people it’s better the security of misery, than the misery of insecurity
Charles M Devonshire
Fortunately, you can use EFT to soften the resistance to change and make it easier to get started.
For specific, step by step guidance for establishing a gentle EFT practice I wrote a free 10 part introduction to using EFT in daily life you can sign up to the Tapping Habit.
Using EFT to change how you feel
This is the most obvious advantage of a self-help process being able to change the way that you feel in everyday situations.
Sometimes you feel bad and you don’t want to and you just want to relieve those negative emotions. Some emotional states are paradoxical, the more you want to get rid of them the more they seem to hang on. Strangely enough it is possible to ease unpleasant emotions by accepting them or lose your negative emotions by choosing them.
Another way of changing negative emotions is to change the way you think about them. In everyday life we identify with how we feel. How often have you said “I am angry”, “I feel upset”? This way of talking over-identifies us with the feeling and can make it hard to change. You can make your tapping much more effective by changing just one word in those sentences.
Becoming responsive instead of reactive
You learn from your experience. Stuff happens and we respond to it as best we can. If the same kind of stuff happens over and over again we learn to react to it in the same way, over and over again.
You develop conditioned ways of responding to situations. It’s as if you become programmed to behave in a certain way. Somebody says something or looks at us in a certain way and you become angry or frustrated.
Some situations, or people, can push your buttons and you react in unhelpful ways – you react rather than respond.
Rather than just have your buttons pushed, what would it be like if you could respond from a more resourceful and centred position?
If you take time to boost your respondability, you will be able to choose how to respond and handle these situations in more resourceful, less stressed ways.
Using EFT to process everyday difficulties
If challenges arise during your day it’s good to have a simple to use process that can help you deconstruct the problem and work on it with EFT.
After learning EFT many people struggle to know how to apply it to everyday situations. They don’t know how to approach the problem effectively and may even give up before starting.
If you are not sure how to apply EFT in everyday situations these articles may be of particular value.
In “How to use EFT to solve everyday problems” you can learn a simple process for working with common everyday difficulties. All you need is some time and a pencil and paper. If you want more information you can watch a video presentation of the process called Pencil and Paper Tapping to guide you through the process.
In “How to use EFT to soften unpleasant memories” the previous process is adapted to help you work through events in your past that may have caused you difficulty then and you may still be troubled by the memory now.
Important: this process is not designed to relieve trauma. If what you went through was very traumatic seek the help of an experienced practitioner.
In “How to resolve distress about things that haven’t happened yet” the original technique has been adapted again for use with upcoming events. So if you are anxious about forthcoming exams, medical appointments, interviews, presentations etc, this process could help you meet these challenges without the extra emotional stress.
The techniques and processes presented here are for your information only, they are not a substitute for appropriate professional medical, or mental health, advice and care. Results cannot be guaranteed.