Humans like to make things simple.
The less we have to think about something the better we like it.
We try to make things simpler for ourselves by generalising our experience into simple categories.
This uses the theme of an earlier article (Drawing A Better Map) giving you a way of using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT/Tapping) to neutralise some of your less helpful generalisations.
One way of doing this is to decide that some situations are universal and without exception. These kinds of generalisations express themselves when we use the words ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘nothing’, ‘everything’, ‘everybody’ and ‘nobody’. (These words could be labelled ‘the universals’).
Although we may use these words often and with certainty, in reality these words describe four fictional states and two fictional people.
You may have heard yourself or others say:
- I am always late
- I never get it right
- Nobody will like what I have to say
- Everybody is against me
- No-one can understand the problem
- All men are bullies
- No women can be trusted
- Nothing goes right for me
- Everything goes wrong for me.
People can say these kinds of things with great conviction.
But are they really true?
If someone tells you “I am always late”, can that possibly be true?
Has there never, ever, been a time in their life that they have not been on time, or even early?
If someone else tells you, with great conviction, “all men are bullies”, is that true?
There are more than 2,000,000,000 men on the planet at the moment, is every single one of them a bully?
Even the Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela?
If you think about it for a moment you will realise that there are going to be exceptions to these kinds of statements.
Usually we don’t consider the exceptions, having an ‘always’ or a ‘never’ thought is just so much easier than adjusting our mental maps to accommodate a more complicated reality.
Unfortunately, thinking in these universal terms can have unfortunate consequences.
If we believe that these statements are true then our thinking, feeling and behaviour is going to be influenced.
If, when you are launching a new business venture, you are thinking:
- “Nobody will want what I am offering”
- “I always give up when things get difficult”
- “I never get things right”
- “Everybody will laugh at me”
These kinds of thoughts are probably not going to help you do what you need to do to make a success of your business.
Fortunately for every generalisation there is an exception, and we can take advantage of the possibility of these exceptions to neutralise unhelpful generalisations.
You can use a specific EFT routine Exception Tapping to neutralise that generalisation.
‘First catch your rabbit’
- old recipe for rabbit pie.
If you are going to tap you need a list of things to tap on. You need to catch yourself saying or thinking in universals.
This can be the tricky bit, because what we think is so familiar and self-evident to us we don’t often notice what we are thinking, so it can be difficult to spot these patterns.
Here are some tips to help you identify your patterns.
Pick just one of the universal phrases (always, never, etc), then pay attention to what other people are saying and try to spot them using that phrase. As you get more experienced at spotting these phrases in what other people are saying you will begin to notice it more in your own thoughts and speech.
Ask a friend or partner if they notice you saying ‘I never …’, ‘I always …’ etc. They may have noticed one or more of your favourite patterns. They may be able to give you examples or at least alert you to your ‘favourite’ word so that you can look out for it.
The moment you find yourself thinking or saying one of these thoughts, write it down. If you don’t you will probably forget what you said because they are so familiar to you that they are often barely noticed.
When you have your list of universals use one of these tapping patterns on them.
To keep things short, I’m going to describe one of the patterns in detail and just sketch the others.
- Say your phrase out loud to give it a score. e.g. “I am always late” 8/10
- Use the standard set-up statement. “Even though I am always late, I accept myself and how I feel” x 3
- Alternate these phrases on the tapping points.
- EB: I am always late … SE: except when I’m not. UE: I am always late … UN: except when I’m not CH: I am always late … CB: except when I’m not UA: I am always late … TH: except when I’m not
- Say the phrase out loud again and register the score. If it still has some truth in it, ‘rinse and repeat’ the process until the thought is neutralised.
Here is a list of universals and their respective exception statements.
- I always …, except when I don’t
- I never …, except when I do
- Everybody …, except those that don’t
- Nobody …, except those that do
- Nothing …, except the things that do
- Everything …, except the things that don’t
So far I’ve just described using this pattern on the universals that are about us e.g. I am always wrong, I am never on time, etc.
We can use a similar pattern when we generalise about others.
If we think ‘He never helps me’ about someone who is important to us, it is probably going to cause some resentment or animosity to show up in the relationship.
As you probably know resentment and animosity are generally not good for relationships.
Fortunately you can use the same kind of tapping process to loosen your judgements and generalisations about others.
“He never helps me."
Even though he never helps me, I accept myself and how I feel.
He never helps me, except when he does.
“She is always late."
Even though she is always late, I accept myself and how I feel.
She is always late, except when she isn’t.
This process is a simple way make your view of the world more rich and varied and soften resentment and frustration with ourselves and other people.
Webinar: Exception Tapping - Why Always Is Never A Good Idea
This webinar explores the background and explains in more detail how to use this tapping routine.
Image courtesy of Dave Fayram