The tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions is a long and often frustrating one. This year, rather than depending on will power or the ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy, it may be time to try something new. Shifting habits by opening to their fullest stories offers a gentle way to begin the process of desired change. Asking and listening to guidance regarding what positive contributions your habit is making to your life, no matter how technically destructive the habit may be, is one of the most effective ways to approach the possibility of positive change. When we can view even the most negative habit as a faithful servant to our well being, we begin the magical process of transformation.
Let us take over eating as an example. Asking what our current food relationships are doing for us may seem like an odd place to begin a weight loss program, but this starting point holds the key to deep understanding and ultimate success. We may have put on weight to feel safe by erecting actual physical barriers to mark out our personal space, or we may have put on weight to obliterate any feelings of well being or desirability we are not yet psychologically ready to feel. We may even have put on weight because we unconsciously believe that we have no control over ourselves, a belief the significant others in our lives may have instilled in us with the best intentions in the world.
How many times have we heard, “Stop! You’re out of control. What’s the matter with you?” When we hear this kind of judgment against us even once, it is so forceful that we almost immediately internalize it. As we mature and interpret all sorts of different behaviours in this “I’m out of control” light, the judgment grows, but this time, we ourselves are strengthening this judgment, one that may have been made as a one-time pronouncement by a significant person in our lives but that grew out of some personal fear about themselves that had nothing to do with us.
“Oh well,” we think as we compulsively eat our way through a bag of chips or cookies, “I’ve always been out of control. It’s just the way I am.” Unconsciously, we may add, “So just to make sure I am living up to my own and others’ negative expectations of me, I’ll eat this whole chocolate cake even though what I’m really hungry for is self acceptance and self love.” When our conscious judgments and our unconscious beliefs meld in our psyches, no amount of will power is able to change the outcome of this tag-team energy. Since we’ve all experienced our determination’s limits to change something we call a negative habit, most of us are ready to try something a little different. And this is when deep and lasting change plants its wondrous seeds.
Getting up a little earlier than usual to have a conversation with the various parts of ourselves and imagining these parts as co-creators of the life we really want to live is a course of action that offers insights into the intelligence of our habits, even those we call negative or self destructive. This conversation is most effective by candlelight because lighting a candle helps us to create the sacred space for authentic communication with the self. Reflecting on our current thoughts and feelings and recording these in a journal allows us to record and keep track of insights as they surface. Any habit – from binge eating and drinking, to smoking, to doping, to sexing, to shopping – is a messenger sent from our purest and most intelligent essence. Believing in our own wisdom and seeing our habits as part of this wisdom breaks the cycle of violence against the self and opens new pathways for fresh insights to express themselves in our hearts and in our minds. We all need these profound openings when we are ready to make change. As Leonard Cohen reminds us, “There is a crack, a crack in everything; that’s how the Light gets in.”
Readiness is at the heart of transforming any habit. If we are not ready to make change, we have little or no curiosity about what the habit may be doing for us. When we’re ready to transform something we’re doing that is challenging to our health and relationships, then curiosity is an easy thing to cultivate. “So, old friend,” we say, “What’s really going on here?” This question, posed in a circle of sacred candlelight with a pen and a journal at hand, is a vital door to change since it allows all the aspects of the Self – body, mind, heart, and spirit – to come forward to share their wisdom.
As soon as we ask about what is really going on in relation to a destructive habit, the body may suddenly be gripped by anxiety felt in the chest or the gut; its message . . . “this is too scary for me” . . . invites our compassion and loving attention. If we respond with “How can we feel safe as we explore this habit?” we may get an immediate “Keep talking to me; keep acknowledging me; stay present to me.” When we hear and acknowledge this plea for attention, we are well and truly on the road to change.
Experts tell us it takes about four to six weeks to replace one habit with another. Committing to a few weeks of personal attention requiring only the relatively small investment of a beeswax candle, a journal, and a pen is a life changing act. When those familiar discouraging messages begin to torment us, we have a gentle form of physical intervention that helps to neutralize their power over us. Tapping through the basic EFT routine while telling ourselves the truth of our feelings and sensations helps to honour our desires for change. If you don’t yet know the tapping sequences, you will find images of these on the web by searching for EFT tapping sequences. My favourite energy tools’ resource is The Promise of Energy Psychology by David Feinstein, Donna Eden, and Gary Craig. This book offers both explanations and images to help readers understand the deepest implications of simple energy practices that improve our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health. It is an instantly useful tool for change because of its EFT tapping point illustrations and Eden Energy Medicine exercises.
We may know the tapping sequence, but be confused by what to say as we tap. Creating a conversation can be a little challenging without a guide, especially if telling ourselves the truth of our feelings is unfamiliar because we have developed habits to separate us from our feelings and physical sensations. When we cannot name what we feel, we have a wonderful break-through tool: our imaginations. Tapping while saying, “I imagine if I felt safe enough to feel my emotions, I’d be feeling a lot of guilt (or shame, or rage . . . ),” can help us to tune into those sense stories we have shut out because of their emotional charge. If reading this last sentence brings up strong emotions for you, it might be time to find a well being facilitator who can help you along your path. Many certified EFT coaches, practitioners, and teachers offer telephone and Skype sessions, so geography is not an obstacle to energy support. If you like the sound of my voice and the learning approach I take to transformation, you can reach me through the contact page of this website.
The New Year is an ideal time to become more loving toward ourselves, especially as we age and find cultural validation less and less frequently. When we begin our early morning dialogues and use our tapping as a means of remaining faithful to our desire for change and remain faithful to this practice for five or six weeks, our personal energies transform and our lives – now replete with synchronicity, joy, and unexpected guidance – become radiantly amazing. This is a possibility for all of us. I hope if you feel ready, you will open to the possibility of positive change. This personal journey is a true joy ride.
With hopes for a kind and loving 2014 for all beings everywhere
Until next week