My friend Jonathan is a doctor and he didn't believe that EFT (a form of acupressure used to help dissolve stuck feelings) would work. So I asked him to think of something that was bothering him and stay focused on it whilst he tapped points around his face, chest and hands. Immediately after, he stopped, looked astounded and said: "I don't believe it…"…but it had obviously worked…
This is an example of self-help that works whether you believe it will or not. This is important because, as I will soon explain, if you have limiting beliefs about your ability to change they can and often will interfere or prevent you changing.
According to the work of Meta-States creator Michael Hall Ph.d our consciousness loops back on itself (so we can think about our own thoughts) and using this simple process it builds beliefs, values, decisions and so on. These form our higher states of mind.
We continuously layer our thinking with emotions upon emotion and each person does it differently (so one person could layer calmness upon anger and so be calmly angry whilst another could layer violent feelings on anger and thus be violently angry) so our behavior differs according to the belief state that produces it.
For some of us we layer rejection-thoughts or 'refusal to feel certain feelings' thoughts upon an emotion so if anger – continuing the example – was too dangerous to express in our home then we inhibited it by consciously or unconsciously saying an emotionally powerful NO to the expression of that emotion.
If we say NO to believing we can change then this can sit in our minds as a higher belief which controls lower ones. Thus any behavioral change you make is countermanded by the 'boss belief' sitting upstairs.
The good news is that not all change techniques require you to believe they work…
I've been using and studying self-help techniques for 22 years. I've extensively trained in Meta-Coaching and looked at dozens of other modalities for change. Over that time I've collected together some techniques which either you can use if you are particularly stuck OR even if you don't believe you can make progress in that area.
1) EFT, TFT
As mentioned, this is a form of acupressure although many people also think of it as energy therapy. Indeed, it claims to unblock energy that has stopped flowing around the energy lines that flow around the body. (This causes stuck feelings.) Ever seen one of those figures at the Chinese medicine shop with dots and lines all over them? With EFT you tap a pre-ordained sequence of points whilst focusing on the feelings you want gone. Some versions of EFT have you chanting and tapping, some have you visualising a younger version of you as you do. However, regardless, it works to reduce the emotional intensity of feelings and cravings. Find a free manual at: http://www.emofree.com/
TFT contains more specific tapping sequences aimed at particular emotional problems.
2) The 2×2 method
For a long time I thought I suffered from adhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure. Sure I enjoyed an ice-cream or a cuddle like anyone else but was seriously emotionally constipated when it came to feeling outright joy or other strong positive emotions. I think this was due to me saying a NO to these feelings during a very unstable home environment growing up.
Eventually I found the book: The One Thing Holding You Back by Raphael Cushnir which explained that if we hold a strong emotion whilst observing its movement in the body, it will eventually flush through our system and allow us to release it. The holding onto it is called resistance which causes us to contract away from that emotion and the release of it is called expansion. This feels very good!
It is a very simple process and all you need to do is to be willing to stay with and feel the emotion as you do the process. You do benefit from being able to shut up the 'I don't believe it' voice as it makes the process go faster.
I used it on my 'constipated emotions' and feel so fresh joyful and free that I am writing this article to include it! Just breathing and focused required – no belief!
3) The One Minute Meditation and the Trager Method
The One Minute Meditation is from the The Kinslow System and this little exercise helps you achieve a sense of inner peace and calmness faster than many others I've tried.
Close your eyes and observe your thoughts for 30 seconds. After that ask yourself: 'Where is my next thought going to come from?' and experience what your mind does with the answer. After every 15 seconds you can ask the same question or something like:
- What will my next thought look like/smell like (yes, really!)?
You will most likely get and feel glimpses of a pure awareness behind these questions. Even if you don't, chances are that after one minute your inner chatter will have stilled and you will feel quiet and calm.
I got this book at a junkyard sale and it has a picture of a lithe looking old guy doing bendy exercises in front of sailors in the 1940's! It is about how focusing on graceful movements can make your more supple but additionally the exercises can relax you too.
Take a finger and slowly wave it from left to right in front of your face. Take it near the edge of your peripheral vision on each side of your face as you move it. When you move it back to the left ask yourself:
Can I move my finger more beautifully, more gracefully?
You will find as you try that your sense of focus narrows and you become more relaxed quickly. Essentially, you are hypnotizing yourself into an alpha state. It works because it uses your physiology and breathing to change your state, not your beliefs.
I first read Smart Moves by Carla Hannaford and it taught me how certain physical movements could cause both parts of the brain to work more effectively together.
Here is one exercise taken from the website at the link below:
Start by sitting in a chair, resting your left ankle on top of your right knee.
Grasp your left ankle with your right hand and the ball of your right foot with your right hand.
As you inhale, place your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth, about one-quarter of an inch behind your front teeth. Relax your tongue as you exhale. Close your eyes and rest in this posture for four to eight complete breaths.
Now uncross your legs, placing your feet flat on the floor. Lightly steeple the fingertips of both hands together, as if you were enclosing a ball.
Keep your eyes closed as you continue to lift your tongue on the inhalation and lower it on the exhalation, relaxing in this position during the course of four to eight complete breaths.
This exercise connects the two hemispheres of the brain and strengthens the body's electrical energy, particularly in stressful environments such as offices. Reported benefits are increased vitality and improved self-esteem.
You can find a summary of exercises here
Other exercises like Brain Buttons improve blood flow to the brain, which helps with concentration.
Again, they work using physiological shortcuts to relation and stimulation so no belief needed.
5) Image Streaming
This is a really impressive self-growth technique: independent studies by the university of Minnesota have shown a measurable and so-far permanent increase of 1 IQ point per hour of using Image Streaming. Are you curious?
Image streaming enables you to connect with the stream of answers your unconscious mind is giving you in the form of pictures.
Essentially, you close your eyes and describe whatever you see with your eyes closed in sensory detail. This means if you see a field then you describe a field of grass with blue flowers dotted in it. The flowers have petals with oval edges and they smell of CK1 (yes, every sense included.) You do not judge the scene by saying 'awful' or 'beautiful'. You just describe out loud to a partner or voice recorder for 10 – 20 minutes.
What does this do for you (other than sounding really boring)? Well, aside from being quite visually 'trippy' it increases your verbal fluency (so you can become a wise-cracking smart mouth more easily!) and has masses of practical applications, most in the area of problem solving. Your unconscious mind has lots of solutions and image streaming helps get the rubbish in your conscious mind out the way to let the real ideas start flowing! They often come symbolically but there are instructions on how to clarify what your mind is telling you.
You can find full instructions, numerous articles and even free ebooks about it at: http://www.winwegner.com
For those of you who 'don't see pictures' there is hope. Wenger's books (which include The Einstein Factor and Beyond OK include instructions for helping you see the images which you were not aware were already there. I have seen people start to see images in under ten minutes.
The effects seem permanent and the instructions seem so unusual that you might find it hard to believe they could work. I personally have generated new therapy techniques which I have published, and numerous other personal insights through using this method – and although it is a little time consuming the results are often worth it.
Your mind is always streaming images so why not take advantage of them?
6) Cloud Bursting
Okay, this isn't strictly a self-help technique but it is so weird I had to include it. Neil Slade at www.neilslade.com will teach you how to dissolve a cloud from the sky. Yes, really. I have done it SO many times that now when I am bored, especially in summer, I will go out, focus on a cloud and send mental energy to it. Within minutes, sometimes moments a hole appears, widens and the whole thing breaks up dissolving into wisps, then nothing.
If you want to prove to yourself the power of the mind that God has given us – as we are made in His Image – then this will go a long way towards convincing you.
I am sure there are more, so please mention them in the comments but the criteria for inclusion is that they must work even if the person using them does not believe they will. Let's share the goodness!