Positive Psychology and Tapping

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Martin Seligman’s latest book, Flourish:  A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well Being, describes exciting scientific evidence proving our ability to replace negative beliefs and thoughts with those that support well being.  You can experience Seligman’s enthusiasm for Positive Psychology first hand at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0LbwEVnfJA.    Those of us who have been using tapping as a means of daily self regulation know that the benefits of replacing negative beliefs and thoughts  with positive ones include joy and optimism; we have also discovered that joy and optimism contribute to our overall sense of well being while increasing our store of resilience.  Tapping builds what in Seligman’s Positive Psychology theory are measurable aspects of well being:  positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement (PERMA).  Using the positive psychology exercises along with tapping strength our ability to live with resourcefulness, enthusiasm, kindness, and hope.

We Want More than Happiness

One of the most important fallacies Seligman addresses is monism, the tendency to reduce the purpose of therapy to a single goal such as lessen our feelings of misery or increase our feelings of happiness.  No one, he argues, should settle for being less miserable; nor can anyone be happy all the time.  Indeed, perpetual happiness would belie the sometimes poignant, sometimes horrifying realities of life in the twenty-first century.  Daily tapping does not rid us of the vitality of all of our emotions, including fear, sadness, and grief; what it does is acknowledge these emotions while creating the necessary space for a larger perspective on a negative situation or crisis.

We are sometimes reverent, sometimes irreverent beings who express a broad range of emotions when we are thriving.  Daily tapping on the specifics of family troubles, work challenges, and world crises help us to do our best and be our best regardless of ongoing difficulties.  And, because tapping is an artful practice, it works beautifully to support our other self regulating habits such as daily exercise, meditation, and food choices.

Expression vs Denial

The quickest way I know to create a black cloud over my head is to deny negative feeling in any given moment.  Like so many boomers I grew up in a family distressed by negative emotions.  Outright denial was a common approach to the deep pain of returning soldiers, the horrors revealed in the Concentration Camps of Nazi Germany, Russia, and the Ukraine, and the terror of nuclear annihilation that permeated the late forties and fifties.   My early childhood experiences of denial help me to value tapping’s ability to allow me to feel even the most painful of my emotions, including guilt, shame, rage, and fear, and at the same time create a way forward with love and respect for human suffering and failure, including my own.  Without this simple resource, my well being would suffer in untold ways, perhaps most obviously through acting out those denied feelings rather than expressing them during a safe, private tapping session.

Expressions of Gratitude

One of Seligman’s positive psychology exercises involves consciously expressing gratitude via the writing and reading of a letter.  Many of us have written letters to those who have passed or even to those who are still here, but this exercise is the first I’ve read about that requires the writer actually meet the person face-to-face.  During the meeting, the writer reads the gratitude letter to the recipient.  It is easy to imaging the great joy this kind of meeting inspires in both people.

Expressing gratitude is as healing as expressing grief, because we acknowledge an emotion that is essential to our humanity to work its magic in ourselves and in the person receiving our gratitude.  Feelings of love and gratitude are as powerful as feelings of rage, and stuffing these can contribute to the isolating feelings of despair that lead to lasting depression.  Tapping for the courage to express gratitude is a great way to soothe fears of rejection or even humiliation; at the same time tapping supports the formation of authentic relationships, one of the vital signs of well being.

May this week be filled with the awareness of your gratitude to others, and may all your relationships be loving and respectful, especially your relationship with yourself.

Until next week



Jane Buchan, MA, AAMET Advanced Practitioner, jane@winterblooms.net, 802-533-9277

Jane is a Learning Coach specializing in neutralizing cultural age, gender, and race constructs to support learners of every age.  To engage her coaching services, please contact Jane by phone (802) 533-9277 or email, jane@winterblooms.net.  Be sure to put Coaching Query in the subject line.