Tag Archives: personal growth

Five ways to soothe your heart after a breakup

If you are grieving over the breakup of your marriage or significant relationship, take heart: When you arm yourself with the tools to get through this crisis, you will find yourself on the other side, happier, healthier, and stronger than you thought you could be. It helps to have strategies and a plan. Here are five ideas to get you started.

  1. Remember the bigger picture. We humans grow through pain. (Ugh.) Of course, not everyone takes advantage of the opportunity for growth that our painful experiences contain. More’s the pity. For those of us who lean in to our experience, hold ourselves to account, and ask ourselves, “What am I meant to learn from this? How do I want to be after going through this?” there is a terrific opportunity to become more of the best of what we already are. Reframing your breakup or divorce in this light helps keep things in a healthier perspective.
  2. Take care of yourself. Going through the pain of a breakup or divorce might be the best time in your life to get good self-care: regular massage or facials, to get back to your yoga mat, to try Reiki or Healing Touch or SRT or energy work or energy psychology. Take a class. Paint. Play the guitar. However you choose to do it, make time and commitment to take care of yourself. You deserve it.
  3. Call a friend. But be careful about which friend you call. There are those who talk us off the ledge, and those who make us want to jump. Pick the calming ones. And be sure to ask them about how they are doing. It is so helpful to think about someone else’s problems, instead of our own. And it makes us a better friend.
  4. Be patient with yourself. Healing takes time. Even when you are giving it your best effort, it still takes time. Some days you will feel better, and then on other days you will feel worse again. That’s how it goes. But little by little, your heart is healing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other. You hurt, you cry, and then you feel happy, and you laugh…And that’s how life goes. After the darkness comes the light.
  5. I know, it’s hard under the best of circumstances, and when we are in pain, it seems impossible to connect and sustain our attention. Try anyway. Your Higher Self will appreciate your effort, and you will find that you are sustained by your Source, even if you think you can’t “get there.” The effort is more important than the apparent result. Luckily there are so many great guided meditations available on line today, you don’t have to work so hard. In fact, this can be a great time to take up the practice, and start to connect more deeply to Who you really Are. Pretty cool.

Every crisis contains the seeds for growth and transformation. Going through a breakup or divorce is certainly a crisis: painful, common, and growth-promoting. The practices suggested here are like tilling, watering, and adding sunlight. Do this, and we can grow into something amazing, healthy, strong, and resilient. And that is beautiful.

EFT Quick Start Guide

EFT, the Emotional Freedom Techniques, is a member of the energy psychology (EP) family of psychotherapies. These therapies combine Western psychology methods, mainly drawing on cognitive and behavior principles, with Eastern energy-based healing principles, including acupoint stimulation and chakra balancing. This mind-body approach allows EP techniques to facilitate rapid, positive change. EFT involves acupoint tapping with exposure to an emotionally-charged memory. In my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, clients are making big changes with EFT.

What is EFT?

EFT combines acupoint stimulation with exposure to an emotionally-charged memory or experience. EFT is built on the theory that every emotional problem is rooted in a block in the energy system because any traumatic event, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can cause a blockage in an energy meridian. This blockage can be thought of as similar to a droplet of water inside a drinking straw. Just as we can tap on a straw to release a trapped water droplet, we can tap on an acupoint to remove a block from the meridian.

EFT can be used as a self-help tool as well as in clinical therapeutic settings. It is an effective tool for working with specific traumatic events, such as accidents and medical diagnoses, as well as more broad-based and seemingly intractable issues, such as depression or low self-esteem. We conceptualize this type of broader issue as a “table top” which is supported by traumatic, though often seemingly insignificant, life events or “table legs”. Using EFT, we remove each of the table legs until the table top collapses.

The EFT Protocol

In EFT, we tap on the side of the hand while repeating a setup statement: “Even though I have this problem, I deeply and completely accept myself.” Then we tap on a series of points while just repeating the problem: “But I have this problem.” Before tapping, we assess our subjective units of distress (SUDS). After one round, or several rounds, of tapping, the SUDS will lower to a 0 or 1.

What Does the Research Say?

Researchers in Seoul, South Korea have identified a physical substrate in the body, composed of very small blood vessels, which correspond with the acupuncture meridian system. These vessels comprise what researchers have named the primo vascular system, and seem to transport biophotons, or biologically emitted photon beams of light. This may be the first scientific explanation of the flow of chi.

While researchers in the East have been studying the body’s energy system, researchers in the West have been studying the effects of EP, including EFT. More than 100 studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals, and 98% have found energy psychology modalities to be effective. To date, four meta-analyses have been conducted, demonstrating a moderate to strong effect size. In the past five years alone, more than fifty studies have found EFT and similar meridian-tapping therapies to be effective for treating depression, PTSD, other anxiety disorders, food cravings, pain, and other physiological symptoms, including blood sugar management and side effects of cancer treatment drugs.

The Takeaway

EFT involves tapping on acupoints while remembering a traumatic event from the past, or while experiencing upset in the present. It is safe and easy to learn, and is an effective tool to relieve many forms of emotional and even physical distress. It may be the best psychotherapy you’d never heard of! Ready to learn more? Get in touch to start your journey to a happier life today.

EFT, the emotional freedom techniques

EFT, the emotional freedom techniques, is a simple, evidence-based technique that can help us resolve our emotional issues quickly and easily. In EFT, we tap on a series of acupressure points while thinking about an issue. In my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, I have helped many clients make big changes using this simple process.

How to do EFT

When we start tapping on a problem, we might rate our emotional upset at near a 10 on a scale of 1-10. By the time we finish tapping, maybe repeating the series a couple of times, our emotional upset will disappear or nearly disappear, down to a 0 or 1. The whole process can take just a couple of minutes.

 

What counts as a trauma? “Big T and Little t” Traumas

Most of the time, our big emotional blocks – things like low self-esteem, thinking we are undeserving or unlovable, or even being afraid to drive on a highway – are actually built up over time because of traumatic events in our past.

This does not mean that we have all had huge traumas. Sadly, many people have had “big-T” traumas – things that involve violence, accidents, shock. But for most of us, it’s the “little-t” traumas that cause our problems.

“Little-t”  traumas are things that are upsetting or incidents that we interpret in an unhelpful way. These can be things like “the time Dad yelled at me”, “the time my classmates all laughed at me”, “the time I failed the spelling test”, etc. Built up over time, these can become the pillars that underlie our larger issues.

The table metaphor

In EFT, we use the metaphor of a tabletop and table legs. The over-arching problem, like low self-esteem, can be thought of as a tabletop; it is being held by the unresolved issues, or “table legs”. Best-practice for EFT is not to treat, or “tap on”, the tabletop, but rather to tap on the legs. We break its legs, and the table collapses.

Each of these “legs” can be conceptualized as a movie that lasts about two minutes, with a beginning, middle, and end. The movie can have a few crescendos. Each of those crescendos are appropriate for our EFT tapping intervention.

Our tables may be held up by ten different legs. Not all of the legs are equally strong. Some legs we rate at a 10 on a scale of 1-10; others may only rate as a 2 or 3. Interestingly, after we treat one or two of the legs, all the other legs seem to get a little smaller until the whole problem is resolved. If we have identified ten “legs” that underlie a problem, we may treat just six of them for the problem to get resolved.

 

The Recipe

Want to give it a try? The picture below shows the EFT tapping points. The basic EFT “recipe” is this:

Begin by tapping, using all your fingers of one hand, on the outside of your other hand while repeating the setup statement and affirmation below. Do this two times:

Even though I have (this problem), I deeply  and completely accept myself.

Then tap on the points while repeating the problem:

But I have this problem…this problem…this problem that’s an 8 on a 10-scale…this time that ______…this ____ problem … this 8 …this time that _____ … this problem

EFT Tapping Points
TH: Top of Head
EB: Eyebrow
SE: Side of Eye
E: Under Eye
UN: Under Nose
Ch: Chin
CB: Collarbone
UA: Under Arm

More information

There are lots of websites, YouTube videos, and books about EFT. While EFT can be used effectively on your own, using EFT in a clinical setting with a trained therapist is even more powerful. This may partly be true because when we think about traumatic incidents from our past it can be hard for us to stay focused and follow the process clearly. When there is another person to hold the space, keep calm, and guide you through the process, EFT is very powerful.

If you would like to learn more about EFT, shoot me an email or give me a call. In my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, I help clients using a variety of effective techniques like EFT. You can also check out the website of its founder, Gary Craig, at www.emofree.com.

Establishing Right Human Relations

The following article was published in the summer issue of The Beacon. In my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, I try to bring this perspective in all my work with clients.

The effort to establish right human relations is helpful, indeed essential, in integrating the personality with the soul. The lack of “right relations” comes most often from a selfish attitude and an emotional body that is not held steady in the light. It is disharmony in personal relations that very often causes a person to decide that he or she must get hold of him- or herself and make some changes. Our relationships are indeed our greatest teachers.

The desire and the need for harmonious relationships is quite often the thing that puts us on our Path. The pain we feel as a result of disharmony is a real pain; brain imaging studies show that physical and emotional pain “light up” the same regions of our brains. What’s worse, the pain we feel when we are the perpetrator of disharmony is like added salt in our painful wound; we feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty, in addition to our angers and fears. This is a powerful combination that makes most eventually decide that Something Must Be Done.

The work, once committed to, involves a complete reorientation of thinking – away from oneself as victim, toward oneself as creator. When taking stock, we learn to reframe our point of view to include perspective-taking and empathy for the Other. We begin to practice “not taking it personally” and to recognize that when our emotions are getting riled up, it is not actually about the Other person, but about some wound in our own Self that is needing to be healed. We begin to have compassion for ourselves and to forgive ourselves ― that is an essential piece of personality integration. No longer can the mind spend oodles of energy denigrating the emotional body; instead the ego learns to befriend the inner child and to work with it, to heal it and create peace rather than continuing disharmony.

As we practice detachment, not taking things personally and not assuming that we know what the Other is thinking or feeling, we begin to task ourselves with cultivating Right Speech. We begin to be careful with our words, which slows down our emotional reactivity. Our relationships increase in harmony. With more harmony, we are able to create a spaciousness that allows us to strive for utter harmlessness and self-forgetfulness. The body relaxes; health ensues. The seven points of light begin to radiate and we become a fit vehicle of expression for the Soul.

When we have committed ourselves to a spiritual path, our lives change in incredible ways. The old emotional reactions and underlying assumptions give way to a light and peaceful experience. The very intention to bring more “spirituality” into our lives does indeed invite light, and love, and goodwill. These are the cause and effect of establishing right human relations.

A constant reorientation to spiritual values changes a person. At the moment we decide that there Must Be Something More, and determine to find it, our lives change course. A meditation practice may be the single most important tool for self improvement, and such a practice can be hung on the scaffolding of just about any religious or non-religious tradition. Whether we are searching for Peace through mindfulness or are devoted to the Buddha-nature, the Christ, Ishvara, the Divine, or the Beloved doesn’t matter. We begin to ascend the mountain and as we climb, we find that all of our paths converge.

With this awakening of inclusiveness, there can be no denigration of another spiritual tradition, no room for thinking “my way is the Right Way, and yours is, say, a ‘political ideology’”. From our place of inclusiveness we gain empathy and search for the reasons why people behave, often badly, the way they do. Rather than condemning and judging, we seek to understand and to aid, even as perhaps we wish that the reins of power were held by more-evolved hands.  Yet we find solace in knowing that we all learn through pain – individuals and groups alike,

As we work to invoke the Soul, not only do our worldly views become larger and more inclusive, our close personal relations do as well. We cannot but feel hypocritical if we make a fuss about a spiritual practice and then yell at our kids and criticize our spouses. Any momentary experience of mystical union rings hollow if followed by a fight at home.  The Love of the Soul has made its healing felt in every level of our personality-being and we begin to love and forgive ourselves, and from that peaceful place it is impossible to not-love or non-forgive others. And incredibly, when others criticize us we are far from defensive but rather seek to understand and find common ground. Exuding peace and love, others want to know how did we do that? Having sought the Light, the Light of the Soul has made its presence known and we are changed, and we are agents for change. Our seven centers begin to blaze and light our way, and light the Way for others.

EFT for PTSD

A treatment for PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) that uses no drugs, has no side effects, and really works―does that sound too good to be true? Research shows that such a treatment does indeed exist. EFT, the emotional freedom techniques, can resolve PTSD symptoms in as little as five sessions. Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest hospital systems in the US, just published clinical guidelines for using EFT to treat PTSD. The guidelines were created by Dawson Church and colleagues, after reviewing the literature and surveying 448 practitioners to see how clinicians are getting results. Their recommendation: five to ten sessions of EFT for people with PTSD. EFT works for PTSD. I use it in my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr.

PTSD: military, accidents, and beyond

We often think of war veterans when we think of PTSD, as well we should: the VA estimates, conservatively, that between 11% and 20% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD (other sources put the rate at closer to 30%). The rates are even higher among Vietnam War veterans, with nearly a third suffering from PTSD. But PTSD is not just a problem for the military. Indeed, it can affect people who have been in any traumatic situation: those who have been in serious accidents, victims of violent crimes, or diagnosed with life-threatening diseases can develop PTSD; the death of a loved one can cause PTSD-like symptoms.

PTSD prevalence

Nearly 8 of every 100 Americans are likely to experience PTSD during their lifetimes. Most people will go back to normal after a traumatic event, but some will develop symptoms that last more than a month (subclinical PTSD) or three months (clinical PTSD) and that interfere with their lives. The symptoms involve avoiding or “numbing out”; re-experiencing, often with nightmares or flashbacks; and some type of hyper-arousal, like being easily startled, on edge, having trouble sleeping, even having angry outbursts.

Treating the “un-treatable”

After World War II, people used the term “shell shocked” to describe the symptoms of PTSD. For decades, it was believed that veterans could not recover from PTSD. More recently, researchers have been looking for ways to resolve the previously “unresolvable”. Pharmaceuticals have not been an effective solution. In a creative move, the US government invested millions of dollars in a virtual reality technology to help veterans with PTSD. But that program is only available to some veterans, and is very costly and hard to replicate. EFT is effective, safe, has no side effects, all for the price of a therapy session ― except for veterans, who can get services for free through The Veterans Stress Project.

To learn more about EFT and other kinds of energy psychology, see emofree.com, energypsych.org, and my website, transformative-therapy.com. EFT for PTSD can get your life back on track.

You Get What You (Think You) Deserve

In my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, I often help clients resolve issues they have been dealing with for years. The issue may present in different forms, but at its core, it is the same thing, again and again.

Intractable issues?

Typically these intractable issues come in the areas of finance, relationship problems, or weight and other health issues. Even when we know, intellectually, that we should be able to keep our weight in check, or have healthy relationships, or freedom from financial struggle, we often let ourselves down, re-living the same problem again and again. We think we have it mastered, only to see it show up again.

Why? Why, after so much growth and effort, do we face the same stuff again and again? The problem lies deep in the subconscious mind, which is running programming from an earlier time in our lives (or lifetimes). On some level, the problem has become part of our identity; and on a deep level, we think that we deserve it. Consciously we know we deserve to be clear of it, but that doesn’t change the subconscious belief that we do not.

And it isn’t simply that the problem is familiar. Usually, on a deep level, we believe that we deserve to have the problem. That’s right: If you are struggling with some issue that seems to crop up again and again, chances are good that somewhere deep inside you believe you deserve it. On a deep level, you’ve bought the lie. The good news is that it is actually simple to find out what this reversal is and then to clear it. When we root out the mistruth we’ve been subconsciously repeating, the whole system collapses in on itself and we are free. I’ve seen clients laugh and cry when they release the lie. The world looks different and things fall into place.

And then, it shifts

Once an issue is cleared, it is cleared for good. However, sometimes there are layers upon layers that need to be addressed. Luckily, if a new facet of the issue is presented, it can be cleared in the same way the last one was. My approach combines energy psychology, hypnotherapy, and some neurolinguistic programming to efficiently resolve the issues, in a safe and peaceful way. It is always an honor to do this kind of work and so inspiring to see people make positive changes in their lives. Because they deserve  to!

Shifting out of criticism

I’m starting off with a bold statement, and it’s one I stand by: Nobody is going out into the world every day determined to screw up. Nobody gets up in the morning and says, “Today I am determined to make people mad and make as many mistakes as I can.” People make all kinds of mistakes, for sure. In fact, none of us is immune. One of our biggest mistakes, I believe, is to criticize others for making mistakes!

When we fall into the trap of criticism we are taken away from our inherent oneness. The heart center is taking a backseat to the little ego and we make the mistake of reinforcing our separateness from others rather than focusing on our interdependence.

We all have our own back-stories. We all have wounds to heal and lessons to learn, as well as a contribution to make. So, just as you wouldn’t get angry with a toddler for not understanding a philosophical debate, or a person who speaks another language for not understanding yours, isn’t it inappropriate to get angry with others for simply being where they are on their path?

Here’s the real kicker. The things that make us really upset at someone else are always a projection of something we are not comfortable with in ourselves. Do “stupid people” really push your buttons? Check your internal dialogue for self-criticism about being stupid. Enraged when someone is being selfish? Ask yourself how often you criticize yourself for being selfish, or see if you have a martyr complex.

And so it goes. What we criticize in others, we criticize in ourselves. The more we criticize others, the more we are criticizing ourselves. Once we realize this, and start to work on ourselves, we come to a place of acceptance. We find ourselves engaged in criticism and judgments less and less. When we do the hard work of healing our own wounds, it is easier to accept the mistakes of others.  We’re in this together, doing the best we can with the personalities we have.

A Tale of Two Clients: The one at the beginning of the session, and the one at the end

I love my job. When Paula (not her real name) came in to the office today, she seemed a little agitated. As she brought me up to speed on what had happened since our last visit, she told the story of overwhelm: too much to do, not enough time to get it all done. She said she felt literally and figuratively out of balance and that was only part of the problem. She began to cry as she said that she was tired of living with fear. It was clear that she needed healing.

I love using guided meditation with clients. We are able to make a lot of progress in a little bit of time. Today, I guided Paula into a meditative state which set the stage for her conscious connection with her Higher Self. We cleared her mental, emotional and physical bodies. Then, one by one, we dissolved blocks: trauma, fear, sadness, and vulnerability melted away.

When my clients are meditating with me, I can feel their energy move and often see color changes in the energy around their bodies. Love that. I would never have believed this was possible if it hadn’t happened—but it happens. Today, as these blocks were being released, I could feel the energy spinning in a slightly dizzying way. I could also actually see Paula’s energy getting lighter and brighter as we went along.

After our big clearing exercise, we connected Paula to her inner yin and yang qualities, or inner male and female selves (we all have both). This is one of the things I love best to do with my clients, because it is so helpful. Today, as soon as we connected to Paula’s male self, I felt an incredible heat as the energy flowed. Her male self wanted more organization; her female self wanted more self-care and meditation. She made adjustments and agreements, and visualized herself getting these things in place.

I love seeing my clients getting happier. By the end of our session Paula’s entire demeanor had changed. Her color was brighter, she was more calm and relaxed, and she had a plan. As we reflected on the work, Paula told me that she also had felt heaviness being cleared away, and made a motion of her hands pushing out from her heart. She had come in to the office stressed, tired, and “crooked” inside. She walked out empowered, relaxed and energized, and in alignment.

I love my job.

The signs are there, but are you looking?

gorgeous sky

I had been thinking of going to graduate school but I was afraid. It would cost money and time that I was not sure I had to invest. It seemed like I already had a lot on my plate as a single mom of three young kids. And it had been a while since I’d done the school thing. I graduated from college thirteen years earlier, and had taken some more undergraduate classes since then, but it had been years since I was in a classroom. Formal graduate education was daunting.

However, I didn’t have another plan. I was teaching yoga and had been studying Reiki. I had considered learning massage and trying to earn a living as a massage therapist/Reiki practitioner/yoga teacher. But I had another thought—that maybe I should get a master’s degree in counseling and become a therapist.

I was on the mailing list of Immaculata University, which is a beautiful school close to where I live. Earlier in the summer I had attended a yoga teacher training, and one afternoon I decided to dedicate my practice to getting clarity on the grad-school issue. At the end of class, I had my answer: go to grad school. I stood in front of dozens of my fellow students and shared what I had received. But then I went home and chickened out. Instead of registering for classes, I continued spinning in fear and doubt.

At the end of the summer I went to the beach for a vacation. Early in the week I headed to the water’s edge to do a surf-side meditation to get clarity on this issue (again!). I sat down, closed my eyes, and asked for a sign. I heard one of those advertising airplanes overhead, and thought “No, I’m not going to look—I’m doing meditation.” But I couldn’t help it. My eyes opened up and I saw the banner: Immaculata University. No kidding, though I did laugh. I packed up my chair, went back to the house, went on line and signed up for a class right away.

My story was legend at school. I heard that they’d only flown the banner once or twice that summer, and we laughed that clearly it was for me and that with my tuition fees, it did indeed pay for itself! One of my teachers wondered how many people in the same situation would have not looked up, or not noticed, or not heeded the “coincidence”.

Ten years later I can say without a doubt: I’m glad I did. And I am certain that, even if they are not always literally signs, we DO receive signs that point us along our way. Once we accept that these signs exist, staying calm and centered to the best of our ability helps us begin to notice them. And they carry the constant reminder: We are never alone.