Sometimes my clients tell me the reason they procrastinate instead of getting something important done is that they are just too tired to focus. Or be creative. Or even think. And I believe them.
This is a growing problem.
• There’s more and more stress in our lives.
• Stress interferes with our sleep.
• Lack of sleep interferes with our ability to think analytically, concentrate, and be creative.
So when you don’t get enough sleep, it’s harder to think. You might as well procrastinate!
If lack of sleep is one of the reasons you are procrastinating, I may have the answer. You can use Tapping in a specific way to get your brain to transition sooner from wide awake to sleepy thoughts. I show you how to do it in this video.
Use this technique the next time you can’t shut off your brain when your head hits the pillow. It just might help you get a good night’s sleep so you can get more done the next day.
To discover how to stop procrastinating for good, email me. We’ll set up a call to talk about what’s going on with you and see if I can help.
Yesterday, September 25, I recorded four half-hour sessions for a teleseminar with Kris Ferraro of the Tapping Insiders Club. It’s an overview of my 4-step Unblock Sleep System with plenty of tapping to get people started on letting go of the stress that is keeping them from sleeping.
I think it went well. (Kris said it did, but then she is a very nice person who was most supportive.) I’ve never done a teleseminar before, but once we got going it was easy to talk to Kris, tell her what the 4 steps are and share some of my tips and techniques for getting to sleep. In fact, it was fun!
I’m told the teleseminar will “go live” on November 3rd. It will be restricted to members of the Tapping Insiders Club. If you are interested, you can check out what that’s all about at http://www.thetappingsolution.com/join-tic/
It’s pretty exciting. It’s also a bit intimidating since it has given me a deadline to complete my Unblock Sleep System so I have ready for anyone who wants it by November 3rd. I’ve been working on it for I don’t know how long. (Years, if you count all the work with individual clients that went into my knowledge base.) Well, that just proves what I’ve been telling my clients–if you want to get something done, set a deadline.
So back to wrapping up all the loose ends on my System. I’ll make an announcement when it is available.
One of the surprises I ran into as I researched sleep problems is that screen time–watching TVs, computers, Kindles, Nooks, smartphones, iPads, etc.–lowers your ability to sleep. This was a surprise to me as I have several friends and relatives who use the TV to wind down at the end of the day and get to sleep.
Apparently that is not a good plan for people with sleep issues. While all light will wake you up, those flickering lights from back-lit screens are the worst. They tell your brain that it is daytime, and time to be awake. One study showed that two hours spent looking at a “self-luminous electronic display” will suppress melatonin by 22 percent. Melatonin regulates your sleep cycle, so you need it to get to sleep.
The experts have a few recommendations to avoid this problem. First, limit your total screen time to lower the effect on your melatonin production. Second, take a break from the screens for two hours before you want to fall asleep. That gives your brain some time to realize it is nighttime, and it might be a good idea to get sleepy. Third, if you have to have a screen on right before bed, dim the light to lower its effect on your melatonin levels.
All of this confirms my recent decision to record most of the sleep program I have been working on in audio format. To be honest, I made that decision when I found out just how much it would take me to do everything in video. I realized I just wasn’t up to the task, despite taking on-line trainings and getting myself familiar with a webcam that is highly recommended for exactly the kind of trainings I have in mind.
So I choose to look at my stepping away from the video-format as a positive for my program. I will do just a couple of videos, and do the rest of the training as audios. That way, people can listen to the program right before bed–or even cue up tapping exercises to use when they wake up in the middle of the night–and it won’t keep them awake.
If you have trouble sleeping, take a look at how much time you stare at screens during the day, and especially in the hours before bedtime. Maybe it’s time to read a book instead!
I’ve been realizing lately how many of my clients have been struggling with sleep issues due to all their stress. I know how hard it is not just to get the work done but to even think when you haven’t slept well the night before from personal experience, so it’s something that I work on with my clients. A lot. And now I’ve made a decision.
I’m going to create some sort of product that uses all the tricks and techniques I use with my clients to lower their stresses so they can sleep. It’s an idea I’ve been kicking around for awhile. And since I’m constantly advising clients to share their goals with someone else to really get motivated to make them happen, I’m sharing this goal here.
There, now I’m motivated.
I’ve got a lot of details to work out, but it’s important so I’m going to make this happen. It’ll take some time to come up with my . . . book? Video training? Webinar? Well, I have a few things to decide, and a bit of work to make it happen. I’ll let you know as I get closer to having . . . something to share about this new project.
While you are going through your workday, how do you think about yourself? Do you think things like “Yes! I am so good at this. I’ve really got what it takes to succeed here!” Or is it more like “Who am I kidding? How did I ever think I could pull this off?!” Let’s really test this. Think of the last time you made a mistake. What did you think then: “Loser?” “Idiot?” “I always screw things up?” “I’m just not good enough?”
Most of us seem to have some of those kinds of negative thoughts about ourselves come up, especially when things aren’t going our way or we’ve made a mistake. When I talk to clients about their negative self-talk, they usually think that it’s a good motivator, pushing them to work harder, fix what they’ve been doing wrong, or just get it right the next time. At the very least, they think the negative messages they give themselves are harmless. They are wrong.
The truth is these kinds of messages are damaging. They will slow you down, demotivate you and limit your creativity. I’ve seen them be completely debilitating, leading clients to essentially give up. It’s as if they’ve mentally thrown up their hands and said “Why bother. If I’m such a loser, I might as well not try.”
What can you do if you have one of these negative messages blocking you? I use two different techniques. The first works quite fast but you would need to learn to use a strange-looking technique. The second will take a commitment on your part to follow through with it, but you can start it right now with just paper and pen.
1. Using EFT (“tapping”) to eliminate negative self talk
When a client comes to me with a prominent and persistent negative statement, it tells me that they’ve learned over time to believe something unhelpful about themselves and it’s become a significant block for them. In these situations I will often use a strange looking but surprisingly effective interactive relaxation and refocusing technique called EFT which helps them “unlearn” negative beliefs. I use this technique because I’ve found that it is the fastest way for my clients to let go of those negative statements. When my clients stop using their negative statements all the time, those statements stop doing damage to their motivation, focus, and ambition. They can think about their present situation and options, and even mistakes they make, in a much more objective way.
It works like this: I lead my clients in a guided conversation in which we review the evidence they have for their negative emotional beliefs, while—and this is the strange looking part—they tap with two fingers on a series of acupressure points on their own hands, head and torso. I tap on myself at the same time while guiding the conversations about their beliefs. If you want to see what EFT looks like in practice, you can check out my article about “tapping down” stress.
Let me break out this technique for you with a little more detail. First I ask my client to repeat out loud the negative statement they’ve been thinking about themselves. Then I ask them to tell me, on a scale of 0 to 100%, how true their statement feels (not how true they think the statement is, but how true it feels). Next we begin a few short rounds of tapping—I show them where to tap, but they do their own tapping—while talking about an event that led to their negative emotional belief. When this process is complete I ask them to tell me again, on a scale of 0 to 100%, how true their statement still feels. Very often, after we have tapped and talked about the first event they offered as evidence for their emotional belief, their negative statement comes down from feeling 70% true, or higher, to zero. We’ve relaxed and refocused that negative belief right out of existence just with a little tapping and talking. And we can get back to business.
However, if after some tapping and talking we find that the self-defeating emotional belief is still at work, at least in part, this may mean there are more events underpinning that belief that we can talk and tap about. Often another event, or a different negative statement, occurs to the client after the first one has been minimized. In either case we do another round of tapping and talking, which takes care of the new statement or event the same way. So you can see that this works faster for some folks than for others, but it brings improvement for just about everyone relatively quickly.
You can use EFT all by yourself to eliminate your own negative statements—I teach clients how to do this, as a matter of fact—but the guided conversation part takes a bit of training and practice so you may want to get help with it. Even EFT practitioners such as myself will often turn to another practitioner to help them get rid of an emotional belief. It can be difficult to see something that you’ve lived with for a long time in a new way that allows you to get rid of it.
2. Using your own evidence to eliminate negative self talk
Of course, I know that learning do-it-yourself EFT is not on most people’s To Do lists. If that’s you, there is an alternative way to get rid of your negative self-talk. It will take longer, but all you’ll need is paper and pen.
Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left-hand side of the paper near the top, write down the negative statement you use most often. Next, in the right-hand column write down all the evidence that your negative statement is not true. Evidence can come from any time in your life. Individual pieces of evidence can be minor by themselves. The point is that each thing you write down puts the lie to that negative statement you’ve been telling yourself.
Let’s say you wrote down the negative statement “I’m such an idiot.” You would write down everything that’s ever happened that proves that you are not an idiot. You might start with things from your youth like: “I got a lot of Bs and some As in junior high and high school;” “My art teacher told me I had a good grasp of perspective;” or “I memorized the entire opening to He-Man!” Don’t stop with school. Try things from work: “My first boss said I was a quick study when we put everything into an online format;” “I’ve been hired for four different positions that took a fair amount of brainpower;” or “I was picked to create a new process in my last job that led to our department using one-third less time to get the data out.” Don’t forget other areas of your life: “I was asked to lead the fundraising auction for the kids’ school;” “My brother always wants me to look over his taxes;” and “I was able to explain the basic idea of String Theory to my friends over dinner last month.” Don’t stop at three. You should put down at least ten things on the right side of the paper. The more the merrier—or more powerful
Once you have a fair amount of evidence on the right hand side of the page, it’s time to change the negative statement. On the left hand side of the page, near the bottom, write down a positive statement that you can use instead of the negative statement. By positive, I don’t mean Pollyanna, like “Everything always works out perfectly for me.” What you want is something that is stated in positive terms. So instead of writing “I’m not an idiot,” you might write something like “I’m smart enough to figure things out.”
Make sure your positive statement is supported by the evidence. That way, if you catch yourself rolling your eyes when you say the new positive statement, you can pull out the piece of paper, read the evidence (yes, all of it), go back and say the new statement knowing that it is true. So don’t use “I’m the next Einstein” unless you really are.
There will undoubtedly be a number of positive statements that could fit your evidence. You might want to write down several, then pick the one that seems the most powerful to you. Circle that one. That’s the new statement you are going to replace the old negative one with.
Here’s where the real work comes in. From now on, every time you say that old negative statement to yourself (“I’m an idiot”), you need to stop yourself and say instead the new positive statement (“I’m smart enough to figure things out”). Yes, every time. What you are trying to do is change an ingrained habit. To do that you need to replace the old habit with a new one. If you occasionally let the old habit slip by, you are reinforcing it and the whole process will take longer.
How long does this take? Well, research says that changing an old habit takes around two to three months of actually doing the new activity (here, that means saying the positive statement instead of the negative one). I know, I know. That sounds like a very long time. But think about it. You’ve been saying the negative statement to yourself for how long now? Years, maybe? A few months is small sacrifice to reap the benefits of getting it out of your head.
Plus, you will start to notice improvements much sooner than two months if you put this plan into place. The old statement will come up less and less. You will have more energy for what you need to do since that old statement won’t be bringing you down. You’ll be able to think more clearly, get more creative. After a while (say, two to three months) you will notice that you haven’t said that negative statement in over a week. Soon after that you will stop thinking about it at all. In a year or two you’ll find that old piece of paper when cleaning out your desk drawer and realize that you just don’t think that negative thought anymore. Congratulations! You’re done with it, and can throw out the paper.
You will want to change all the negative thoughts you have for the reasons I’ve mentioned above. Here’s one more word of advice about that: don’t try to do them all at once. For one thing, actually writing down a lot of negative statements about yourself is likely to bring you down. In addition, it can be overwhelming trying to change everything at once—so much so that you might give up before you make any headway. That would be a shame since you will get a great benefit from changing even one negative statement.
So work on one, get rid of it completely, then pick the next one. Each negative statement you work on should be easier to change than the last one. And you’ll be amazed at what a difference that makes in your work.
I want to share a technique that I use with many of my clients to get rid of all sorts of blocks to their success. The technique is called EFT, or simply “tapping”, and it’s growing in popularity, is being used around the world, and the number of studies documenting its effectiveness is mounting. Really, the only drawback to it is that it looks weird. Ah well, can’t have everything.
I’m going to teach you a simple version of tapping to use when you are feeling stressed. Stress can lower your ability to think and be creative, so it’s important to limit stress when you can. Before we start, though, go drink some water. No really, go. This won’t work if you are at all dehydrated. I’ll wait.
Welcome back. Okay, the first step is to write down the feeling you are working on. I’ll be using the word “stress,” but if “overwhelmed,” “underwater,” “scared” or some other word captures what you’re feeling better, please use that. Next, on a scale of 0 through 10 (0 is not at all, 10 is as bad as you can imagine), write down how stressed you are feeling right now.
It’s time to do the actual tapping.
1. Karate Chop. Take two fingers of one hand and tap on the karate chop point on your other hand. That’s the fleshy part on the side of your hand under your little finger. You’re tapping about as hard as if you had a push-button phone with a sticky button. So, you’re not whiffing it and you’re not leaving a bruise, but it’s solid. Now, while tapping on that point, we’re going to say something three times. Repeat after me: “Even though I’m feeling really stressed, I deeply and completely accept myself . . . Even though I’m feeling really stressed, I deeply and completely accept myself . . . Even though I’m feeling really stressed, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
2. Eyebrow. Now tap right where one of your eyebrows starts and say “This stress.”
3. Side of Eye. Tap on the ridge of bone on the side of your eye. “I am stressed.”
4. Under the Eye. Tap about and inch below your pupil under your eye. “I’ve got too much going on.”
5. Under Nose. Tap under your nose. “And it’s real.”
6. Chin. Tap on the line on your chin. “I’ve got good reasons to feel stressed.”
We could use two fingers for the next spots, but it will take too long to find them, so let’s do this the easy way.
7. Collarbone. Make a fist and, with the flat part of your knuckles, tap on your collarbone where a man would knot his tie. “I’m really stressed.”
8. Under Arm. Take all four fingers and tap under your arm, about four inches down from your armpit. “All this stress.”
9. Top of the Head. Finally, tap with all five fingers on the top of your head and say: “I’m so stressed.”
Okay, stop tapping and take a deep breath. Great. That was a single round of tapping. (By the way, all you really need to say as you are tapping around the points is “this stress,” but I like to keep it interesting.) Check in with your stress level. Is it still the same number you started with, did it go up, or down? Write down the new number. Usually the numbers go down, but sometimes they go up. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just means you are accessing something you’ve been pushing away and now you’ll be able to tap it down.
Time for a second round of tapping:
Karate Chop: “Even though I have this remaining stress, I deeply and completely accept myself.” (Say that two more times.)
Eyebrow: “This remaining stress.”
Side of Eye: “There’s a lot on my plate.”
Under Eye: “I’m not sure how I’ll get it all done.”
Under Nose: “So of course I’m stressed.”
Chin: “Anyone would be.”
Collarbone: “Still, the stress isn’t helping. It’s actually making it worse.”
Under Arm: “Maybe I can let go of some of it.”
Top of Head: “I’m letting go of some of that stress now.”
Stop. Breathe deeply. Check your stress number now. You can keep doing rounds of tapping until you get that number down to zero or until you have to do something else. Usually just a few rounds is enough to get the stress way down from where you started so you can think better and get more done.
There’s lots more you can do with tapping, but sometimes all you need is a quick boost. I hope that was helpful.