New Year New Habits – Part Two: Saplings

In tree life, once a seedling makes it past the vulnerable newborn stage, it is called a sapling.  In human life, we call this period of time childhood and adolescence.  Our new habits enter a similar period, often marked by the adolescent cockiness that suggests we can eat some fudge if we’re transforming an eating habit, or smoke a cigarette if we’re transforming into non-smokers, without consequence.  It’s a dicey period because it comes with very heady energies.  In actual adolescence, we often believe we can do just about anything, never mind the battle scars our friends and family members often point to as they advise us to be cautious.  As adolescents, we don’t take advice readily, perhaps because we feel so empowered by the physical evidence of growing strength.  So it is with our habits.

Caution at this point in habit transformation is very important because we feel prematurely we’ve licked whatever habit we’ve decided to change.  If it’s a weight-loss habit, we can point to our initial success – our loose waist bands, abundant energy, and glowing skin – as signs that we’ve passed the critical point.  If it’s alcohol, we can point to our days of sobriety as convincing evidence that we really don’t have a drinking or drug problem and can now indulge in our substance of choice without risk.  Of course we can’t.  No one can.  A new, desirable habit needs time to establish itself; after only a couple of weeks of transformational activities our habit is in its sapling phase, and a sapling can be uprooted without much effort.

Tapping on feelings of invincibility is a great way to address the urges to tempt fate and dabble in an old pattern we’ve convinced ourselves has changed.  Our tapping story might be, “Even though I’m convinced I can smoke this cigarette and continue on my chosen path to a non-smoking life, I trust that this adolescent urge will pass and that I will be able protect my sapling habit from blight and storms.”  If our relationship to food is our transformation target, we might say, “Even though something in me wants to prove that I can eat this small piece of cake without suddenly wolfing down the whole thing, I trust that this urge to ignore all warning signs and break faith with myself will pass and that having a drink of water and going for a walk is the better course of action.”  Whatever our habit, we will find it useful to say, “Even though some part of me feels invincible and tempts me to go back to doing this thing I’ve been successful at transforming so far, I trust my wiser self will help me to know the truth that no one is invincible and that this urge to delude myself is a natural aspect of this stage of habit change.”

Hubris is something the Ancient Greeks wrote about because they saw it as the root cause for most defeats.  Oedipus is the poster child for hubris.  Upon learning that the Delphic Oracle has predicted he will murder his father and marry his mother, Oedipus leaves home, only to discover too late that these were his adoptive parents, humble people who rescued him when his biological parents abandoned him to the elements on Mount Cithaeron to thwart the Oracle’s prophecy.  The Ancient Greeks learned, and we must learn also, that all energies suggesting we are not subject to life’s natural laws contain hubris.  Every person alive has the potential to be done in by hubris; most of us meet our own store of it fairly early in life.  We tend to remember our capacity for hubris because this discovery usually comes with a memorable sting.

Tapping on feelings of invincibility is always a wise thing to do when we are in the early days of habit transformation.  Clearly, we are not invincible and using our Body Whisperer techniques (see last week’s blog to understand the concept of Body Whisperer) to remind ourselves of our vulnerability is a very wise course of action in the early weeks of habit transformation.  It is easy to be deluded by the early successes that come when we’ve told ourselves our deepest stories and feel like we’re out of danger.  Knowing with our intellect that it takes at least four weeks to transform a habit often pales in comparison to the physical feelings of exhilaration and the conviction that the game is won and we are out of danger.

Tapping every day for a week or two on the possibility of being deluded by our hubris is good policy at this stage in our habit transformation process.  We want to leap ahead, to avoid uncomfortable feelings of loss and vulnerability, but acknowledging and honouring these uncomfortable feelings by tapping on them is the very practice that will help to ensure that our new habit sapling will develop a deep root system.  Remember the adolescence comparison.  We may feel physically like adults, but we have not yet had the experience we need to temper our beliefs and make us wise.

While tapping on all the EFT tapping points is valuable, tapping on Stomach Meridian, the point below the eye, is especially helpful in cultivating our confidence in our ability to change.  This tapping point supports transitions.  In the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system, Stomach Meridian is on Earth Element, and Earth Element neutralizes worry when balanced. Imagining what our stomachs do for us – transform our foods into the vital nutrients we need to thrive – helps us to understand the work of Stomach Meridian.  As it is brought into a state of balance through tapping, Stomach Meridian grounds and enlivens us in the same way that a nutritious meal does.

Helpful reminder phrases to calm the hubris of sapling or adolescent energies include “these feelings of invincibility,” and “others might fail but I’ve got this licked,” and “I’m not in any danger now.”  Remembering to tell the truth of our feelings, even our most arrogant ones, is vital to the transformation process.  We all have the potential to delude ourselves throughout our lives, but particularly during adolescence, a stage we may leave chronologically but one that cycles through our lives many times over as we continue to mature and evolve.  Reminding ourselves that our adolescent ability to delude is part of what makes us human helps us to navigate these delusion dangers and settle into our desired changes with tenderness and respect, attitudes that truly support us as we move more deeply into transformation.

Until next week