What’s with all the negativity?
Even though I hate my job, but can’t get up the nerve to leave…
Even though my kids drive me crazy and I feel like a terrible mother…
Even though I can’t stop reaching for the biscuits, though I know it’s awful for my health and my self-esteem…
Even though I have this trauma from my past that is influencing how I feel about myself and my life…
Even though I get so angry and feel out of control…
The Basic Recipe in tapping starts with this phrase: ‘Even though (name your problem)’. Often I’m asked: why?
Why start with a negative? Why focus on what’s wrong? Why say bad things, bringing them to mind?
After all, if you want to feel better, shouldn’t you strive for positive thinking?
The Law of Attraction
The Law of Attraction states that you get what you focus on, so focusing on the negative is only going to bring more of it into your life, right?
And yet, not saying something negative doesn’t mean that it isn’t there in your mind, in your emotions. It doesn’t mean that you don’t think it, or tag it on to the positives as a ‘tail ender’.
In fact, this is one reason that affirmations often don’t work. You say something like ‘I am a strong, disciplined person’ yet there is a quiet little voice in your mind that whispers ‘except when it comes to chocolate’ at the end of the sentence.
That tail-ender is like a bad smell that drifts up from the sewers on a summer’s day, despite the beauty of the sunshine pouring down from above.
Giving Voice to your Shadow
Sometimes, there’s a part of you that is suffering, a part of you that is feeling gloomy or downright furious. Rather than trying to be all sweetness and light, tapping encourages you to acknowledge that part of yourself.
Following Jung’s ideas around the Shadow, repressing these feelings that life isn’t perfect definitely makes the whole situation worse. Not owning up to these negative feelings doesn’t make them go away, it just lets them fester and grow in the dark.
When you voice this shadow aspect of yourself, you acknowledge it. Perhaps surprisingly, this simple act starts to loosen its hold and weaken its power.
It is nearly impossible to release the hold of something you cannot confess to. This is one of the reasons for the power of the confessional, of therapy, and of just opening your soul to a friend or stranger.
Another important aspect of speaking the negative while tapping, is desensitisation. This is a concept used in behavioural therapy and hypnosis. The basic idea is to expose yourself to something that you fear, dislike, or that in whatever way causes you strong (negative) emotion.
Part of the power of desensitisation lies in exposing yourself to small or manageable doses of the thing or situation that causes your emotion, and seeing that you can survive this. The more often you can survive it, and the bigger the ‘dose’ you can survive, the more you experience that you’ve survived it, and so can disconnect the trigger from the feeling.
One big benefit of tapping, and equally of hypnotherapy, is that the technique itself helps you to manage greater ‘doses’ of whatever your trigger is. In both cases, this is because the technique helps you to maintain a state of calm, even while being exposed to stressful triggers. So, instead of needing the ‘small doses’ of behavioural therapy, you can quite quickly move to ‘bigger doses’ and still find them manageable.
Scientific studies have shown that tapping on meridian points lowers the cortisol in your blood stream. This means it reduces the levels of stress hormones in your body, and so brings you a sense of calm that starts at the body level. Your body cannot feel calm and stressed at the same time. Bringing your body to this calm place even while it is being exposed to thoughts, words and feelings that would normally cause you stress, disconnects the ‘trigger’ effect of those things.
It’s a little like trying to make a phone call under water. The water stops the phone from working, no matter how often or how hard you press the buttons. Tapping is the calming water to your phone of stress!
Working Content Free
Another big benefit of tapping, compared to the confessional or traditional talk therapy, is that you do not necessarily need to expose your vulnerability.
Obviously, if you are tapping alone this is less of a concern (though sometimes you may feel embarrassed to admit something, even to yourself). This is a big benefit of tapping, that it is very easy to do by and for yourself.
Still, sometimes it is really helpful to have someone standing by your side, helping keep you on your chosen path, and maybe giving you a little nudge now and again if you get stuck.
The important point with tapping is for you to know what it is you are tapping on, and to have a bit of an emotional investment in it.
In those circumstances you don’t even need to name your issue. You could just say ‘Even though this situation makes me angry’ or ‘Even though I feel so intensely when I think about this’. You could give the issue a title that you understand, but which is ‘hidden’: ‘Even though I have this Eurythmics-song/Here-we-go-again-story…’ You don’t need to tell the person you are with what the actual issue is (or not until you are ready, as there is a power in sharing something with someone non-judgemental, too).
Sometimes, this way of acknowledging the negative without actually having to name it can feel less shameful, less overwhelming. And yet, so long as you are still aware of what the issue is, the tapping will still be just as effective
Tapping to release the negatives
This multi-pronged approach makes tapping very effective at releasing the strangle-hold of difficult emotions.
By acknowledging these and giving them voice, you take the sting out of them. And by combining this mental and emotional acknowledgment with creating a physical sense of calm, you separate the trigger from its effect. And if it is all too embarrassing to talk about, yet you want to release the effects of this negative emotion, you can work on it content free.
So, tapping offers a treble-whammy when it comes to ripping the scab off painful wounds, and all with little or no pain! Through bringing the negatives to the fore, these are released and healed, cleansing your emotions and leaving you unscarred again.
That way, when you do come to focus on the positives there are no tail-enders; no more pain festering below the surface. Like the scent of the earth after rain, the clean streets after a deluge, truly releasing shadow emotions makes way for a bright, new dawn.
[…] start off talking about all the mud and muck in your life (for more on that, see this post on ‘what’s with all the negativity?’). Then, you suddenly switch tracks to what sometimes feels like an unattainable goal: complete […]