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An Alternative to Mindfulness and Positive Thinking

Buzzwords in the wellbeing world for several decades, Mindfulness and Positive Thinking may not be working for every woman. They have been appearing even more as mental health problems and workplace stress have increased across Western society. Not to mention as ways to potentially cope with the extra challenges of COVID-19. But I’ve often struggled with them both. I wondered if it’s because I always worked in jobs where I’m “in my head” a lot and it’s hard to switch off. To me, these approaches feel like even more time being in my head; the names even suggest that:  MINDfulness and positive THINKing. I wanted an alternative!

I was interviewed recently by Adelaide’s lovely Sharlene Lynch on the Healing Through Love community tv show. I was talking about my move in April from my “normal day job” into a full-time focus on expanding my business (Tapping Into Serenity) as a Women’s Coach for Work Stress-Release & Peak Performance. I was telling listeners how I empower professional and academic women to release their stress or clear goal blocks using EFT Tapping acupressure – Emotional Freedom Technique. I was explaining that we always focus first or mainly on the negative feelings. I guide them to tap the acupoints to diffuse the negativity in their mind and body, thereby dialling down their stress response physiologically.

Clearing out the Dirt first

Sharlene the interviewer reflected that focusing on the negative seemed unusual in this day and age. But she really liked the idea of actually acknowledging the stressful or negative things we’re facing (in past, present or future). We don’t always take time to do that!  And then I guide you to tap the acupoints on your hands, head and upper body to work through and reduce the intensity of emotions or thoughts. It occurred to me that that is the essence of what I struggle with in mindfulness and positive thinking; to me they feel like trying to be happy when everything around you is demanding, distracting and even dizzying.

And if you’re a woman in a “thinking-focused” role, you may struggle to switch off sufficiently to do the focussing that’s required – you’re trying to be positive, but you can still see and feel the negative! It reminds me of a saying I’ve heard by one of the EFT Masters, that you can’t clear the dirt out of your life if you push it under the carpet; you have to shine the spotlight on it and do the cleaning! As one of my clients said recently:

Lareen helped me transform my negative patterning that had been blocking joy, trust and creativity. Tapping is a transformative process that truly changes lives on a deep and profound level! (Belinda, University Academic, January 2020).

The encouragement to be positive, despite everything that’s really going on, also reminds me of something I recently read about the Bible – someone was wondering why it includes people’s accounts of struggling, soul-searching and complaint (or lamentation). They concluded that the message is about the human condition and ways people respond, that life isn’t meant to be just full of happy, positive experiences – and there are plenty of those in the Bible – but “real people” also face difficulties and challenges, sometimes lifelong, and need a variety of options to help them deal with it until they find something that works for them.

Your negative reactions are automatic

Often you can’t change your stressful work context situation or relationships. But you can’t help wanting to change them! It might help to just try accepting this and being mindful to live in the moment, or to look for something positive about the situation. But underneath, you may still be frustrated or simmering with tension. and research shows that suppressing emotions is not good for your health and may in fact lead to earlier death!

In addition, Harvard University Professor Gerald Zaltman says around 95% of our behaviour is automatic or has been subconsciously programmed from earlier in life. So, often you actually can’t help your reaction because the circumstances trigger an automatic response that until now has served you well. So you’ve reacted  – perhaps with anger, fear or worry – before you even know it. Maybe that response is no longer serving you but you don’t know how to interrupt it.

A practical, helpful alternative

Some years ago when I was totally overwhelmed with too many demands at work, as well as lots going on with friends and family in ill-health or personal injuries, I came across Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping). I think it worked for me because it has a body component as well as addressing your bothersome thoughts, limiting beliefs and negative emotions. It actually does what it says: it doesn’t just get you a brief time-out from your stressful situation; it actually reduces your negative feelings so you get some Emotional Freedom. And usually you can feel this in both your mind and body.

With an experienced practitioner, you can also clear the underlying cause of your emotional reaction so you can become emotionally free from responding this way in future. Not a lot of people realise that this is possible – but it is becoming talked about more and more, and featuring increasingly in the media. And Emotional Freedom Technique can do this even if you don’t consciously know the cause – the process unravels that and reveals it to you. Nick Polizzi of the Proven series (Healing Breakthroughs Backed By Science) rates EFT Tapping as #1 for stress relief, ahead of Yoga, QiGong, Taichi and Mindfulness, because of its combination of having a research base, its history of use, and its ease of application. And Dr Peta Stapleton of Bond University – Australia’s latest Psychologist of the Year – is now reporting EFT to be 3 to 6 times faster than most other approaches.

So, yes, you can process unresolved emotions and programmed negative responses. Isn’t it a relief that you can become emotionally free from your work stress, rather than having to keep being caught up in it!

Naturally making way for the positive

Because EFT Tapping combines mind with body, you could call it Mindfulness PLUS (ie Focusing on an issue+ Emotional Processing). We do focus on the issue – bring it to mind – and then “tap away” your associated negative emotions, limiting thoughts and inner critic. But we only introduce a focus on positives once we’ve cleared the negative. As the tapping reduces the negative, the positive actually comes up as a natural reshaping of the situation. No need to make yourself “think positively”, you’re just doing it automatically now!

We’re not all born with a positive, hopeful outlook on life. Somewhere along the line you probably learned to watch out for problems rather than possibilities as a result of major or minor events in your life. By guiding you to process challenges emotionally, to identify and clear subconscious blocks, EFT Tapping Acupressure is reprogramming your mind, brain, neural pathways and body for good (for links to the research evidence, visit TappingIntoSerenity > research-evidence). This approach is particularly important when Logical Thinking and Better Time Management aren’t working for you because they are overshadowed by habitualised stress responses! So, if you can’t change the situation, you can change your reaction without sapping your energy that’s taken up by battling with your willpower.

I came to Lareen feeling chronically stressed from my current work and home life, with headaches and tight neck all the time. In the week after my first session I didn’t have a headache for the first time in months! I’m feeling so bizarrely confident about my work situation now, I’m now actually feeling inspired! I love the way EFT calms my body and opens up space to think about things in a different way. (Julie, Senior Government Manager, February 2019)

What to do next?

I’m really grateful that I discovered EFT Tapping when I was really struggling with total work overwhelm that had left me with such bad vertigo that I couldn’t walk for several weeks! Just one private Tapping session opened up a chink of light for me in an otherwise dark situation, and set me on the path to radically reduce my own stressload and emotional baggage. And as the saying goes, now I’m passionate about helping women like you to do the same! Many people turn to EFT when nothing else has worked – but you don’t have to leave it that long to give it a go! You’ve discovered it now already!

With already high stress levels in Australian workplaces before COVID-19, and all the additional stressors that the coronavirus situation has added, I feel there is a huge urgency and need to promote alternative ways for women to reduce and clear their stress. So you will be pleased to know that I have a suite of private sessions for individuals and groups, as well as corporate workshops on stress management and/or peak performance, and all can be delivered online or face-to-face. Let’s talk soon!

Lareen Newman PhD is a women’s coach for work stress-release and peak performance, based in Adelaide Australia. Lareen works locally from her private home studio as well as online via Zoom to the world. She specialises in working with Professional and Academic women and universities, with her passion being that increasingly more women can clear their emotional and subconscious blocks to a flourishing work and home life! Read more client reviews of working with Lareen, or try some simple Stress Release videos with her on the Tapping Into Serenity Youtube Channel.