Written By Penny Hill
Overwhelm. It happens to us all. But why does something bother us one day and not the next? The simple answer is: STRESS.
Some of that stress you know about. You are ‘under’ a lot of stress, perhaps with deadlines at work or school; the news is disturbing, or the neighbors are keeping you up at night. Illness, be it short term or something more serious or chronic – stress seems to come from events and people around you. What do all these things have in common? They use up our personal resources. Our energy.
I bet you’ve said at some time… “I just can’t think about that now.” Or, “I just can’t deal with that right now.”
What’s going to make it more “do-able” later? Resources. This is a complex issue to understand and explain but here’s the analogy I use:
But It’s Just a Piece of Paper!
You’re walking down the hall at work with your coffee cup in hand. Someone intersects you and asks, “Can you take this piece of paper down to Carla’s desk? “Of course” you say. It’s just down at the end of the hall.
Now – imagine you are walking down the hall with your cup of coffee. You are also carrying a big box, and it’s a bit awkward. And balanced on the box is a delicate model that the business needs for a client presentation today,, and you’re walking very carefully to make sure everything is safe (and you don’t spill your coffee!) Some wise cracker keeps making sudden jabs at you to see if he can startle you into dropping your load, and you realize that this is all much heavier than you thought it was and your arms are shaking a bit. Now, that same person walks up to you and asks “Can you take this piece of paper down to Carla’s desk?”. What do you think your response would be this time?
You say in some level of exasperation (and politeness), “Uh, NO! Can’t you see I’m loaded up here! What’s the matter with you. Take it to Carla yourself!”
In the first scenario you have plenty of resources to carry the piece of paper. In the second you don’t.
But what are those resources? They are essentially your feelings. You feel you have time, you feel strong enough, you feel capable. Stress happens when you are asked to use time you don’t feel you have, asked to use your strength when you feel weak, asked to do something of which you just don’t feel capable. And in the end, stress does not come from outside of ourselves, it arises within us in response to a life stimulus.
There’s three categories of building resources:
- letting go of old stress that’s hanging around. You are not actually ‘under’ stress so much as embodying it
- keeping more stress from accumulating
- stuffing your tool box to build resilience, coherence and happiness
We all have stuff. And most of the stuff we’ve carried around since we were kids, because that was the most un-resourced time of our lives. We were taking the world in – unfiltered, with little experience and making decisions about what was true and not. Many of us are operating on the decisions made by 2, 6 and 10 years olds. And, responding emotionally as that child would as well.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques , or Tapping) is a superlative set of tools for letting all that ‘stuff” go, releasing what is no longer serving us, and letting the weight of the past drop off. And EFT helps us rewire our brains so not only do we release our old programming, we can build new neural pathways that support our vision of what we DO want to be, do and have.
Stop the build up
This takes some mindfulness and a willingness to observe yourself. And the habit of not judging yourself. Why did I snap at my spouse, growl at the traffic and groan at that phone call? Inquire of yourself, but don’t berate any perceived shortcomings. You can try to understand it with your mind, but in EFT we say ‘cognition is not clearing’. You can observe your emotions, and with a willingness to change them, Tap on them in the moment. We all believe we want to feel happier, but the truth is we can be pretty committed to our anger, frustration and other low energy states. It’s a brain thing. Our brains are not committed to our happiness, only our survival. And the brain thinks most change is suspect at best, dangerous at the worst. This is why you need to know your ‘BIG WHY’ for making any change.
Building resources is a life skill.
And although we’re all going to be ‘caught with our resources down’ from time to time, we can make storing up resources a daily habit. EFT is a great resource builder by releasing old patterns of energy that are being a drain on our energy.
But we can do more to build on that. Some ideas are:
- Take stock of what makes us happy. This is a resource you can draw on at any time. Remembered emotional happiness is the same as experiencing new happiness. And it doesn’t diminish with repeated rememberings.
- Find something new to learn. The brain is happy learning new things and skills.
- Get out of our own head and help someone else.
- One day a week give out 5 compliments and kindnesses.
- Practice loving ourselves. Find a mirror and look your self in the eye and say “I love you, you are loved.” (If this is uncomfortable take note of why, and where you might feel that in your body. This is baggage you can Tap to release. Because YOU ARE LOVED. By All That Is no less.)
- Practice kindness, to self and others.
What works for you? Do that!
Release the past with EFT. Stabilize the now with mindfulness about what you’re feeling and choose to up-level your emotions (and your life, by the way.) Build resources by choosing daily habits that renew your life energy.
By choosing happiness we are extending our lives, improving our health, and being more productive in all domains of life.
Penny Hill, LMT has been a Licensed Massage Therapist since 1990, and is also an EFT Certified Practitioner and Certified HeartMath Practitioner for Stress, Anxiety and Self Regulation. A life long journey of healing for self and others has culminated in her developing The Curriculum for Happiness Habits.