Detaching from Unhelpful Family Beliefs

One of my clients recently decided to take the plunge and expand her business into a more spiritually-focused area. She knows this is what she is supposed to do, has already had great experiences adding a spiritual aspect to her current offerings, and knows of people who make their living selling products designed to help their customers grow spiritually.

She was excited, got some great ideas for what to offer, started making plans, then suddenly her creativity just dried up. When I asked what was stopping her, she said she was afraid it wouldn’t make her any money. Since we had already looked objectively at the issue and recognized that spiritual growth is an expanding field with plenty of potential customers, I knew this was an emotional belief that was getting in the way.

When I asked who the fear sounded like most, she said her parents. So we tapped on her parents’ fears that you can’t make any money with that woowoo stuff. After about fifteen minutes, she could look at the fear in a detached way, knowing that it was her parents’ belief, not hers. Best of all, her creativity came back right away, along with her motivation to do what she needed to create her classes and get the word out to people who would love to take them.

This is a common outcome of tapping on such blocks. What was interesting to us was that other memories came up where she had heard of other peoples’ beliefs. We tapped on those too, even though she had not experienced those first-hand

This happens quite a bit. When you tap on the main source of a belief, other sources surface. It is important to tap on those messages, too, even if they weren’t originally addressed to you or if you only heard about them second hand. The fact that it came up while you were tapping means that you’ve internalized at least part of the message and it will slow you down if you don’t get rid of it.

So notice while you are tapping if other memories come up. Even if you don’t know how they are related to what you are working on, they are probably part of what is blocking you and need to be tapped away.

Get started.

Sometimes it can be hard to identify all the sources of your own emotional beliefs. If you could use some help identifying the blocks you have and rooting them out, email me to set up a get-acquainted session by phone or Skype. I want to hear what you are struggling with, then we’ll see if I can help.

Overcome Your Fear of Flying Seminar

I am excited to offer an in-person group in November to help people get control over their fear of flying before the day before Thanksgiving, which is the busiest flying day of the year.

By the way, if you are interested but cannot attend the November seminar, please email me to discuss whether individual telephone sessions might work for you instead.

Here’s the announcement that went out in a recent flyer.

Sponsored by Emmaus Counseling Center

Overcome Your Fear of Flying

A Seminar Series dedicated to providing you the tools and techniques to get you flying high

With the holidays rapidly approaching, many people are facing their upcoming air travel with dread. We are pleased to offer a series of three 90-minute classes focusing on a powerful new technique that has already helped many people around the world cope with — and often completely erase — their fear of flying.

In the classes we will use a powerful technique called EFT, or “tapping,” that involves tapping on acupressure points to release locked-in stress. Conventional approaches usually only manage to blunt the stress of fear of flying over the course of months, or even years, of work. Tapping can alleviate the fear in people of all ages in just a few hours or less.

We will work on different common aspects of a fear flying, like claustrophobia or feeling you are out of control, as well as the physical reactions people have like their heart pounding or their stomach clenching up. We will also work on reducing the fear specific memories of difficult flights may still bring up in you. Finally, we will go through all the steps involved in a flight, from buying the tickets to packing and driving to the airport through take-off and landing, using the technique on all the aspects of the flight that cause you stress.

In this seminar, you will learn the basic tapping technique to lower your stress immediately while on a flight, including some subtle tapping steps you can take in a cramped airplane seat without calling attention to yourself. In addition, many people get a significant reduction in their flying stress before they ever have to get on a plane, and some get over their fears completely.  And when the fear is gone, it’s usually gone for good — no more relaxation techniques or medications needed.

Your Instructor, Nancy Linnerooth, has taught tapping to many individuals and groups. She has seen the great relief it has brought to many, and in some cases witnessed her clients’ immediate relief from their fears. As an example, after just one group session, a client went on several flights and found her usually quite severe anxiety was gone except for a bit of apprehension during turbulence, which she simply tapped away during the flight.

She is very excited about helping people get over these sometimes lifelong fears. It can really change lives!

Location: Emmaus Counseling Center, 8290 165th Ave. NE, Redmond, WA 98052

Dates: Monday, November 1, 2010; Monday, November 8, 2010; Monday, November 15, 2010

Time: 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Seminar Fee: $160 for the series. (Please bring a check to your first session.)
The classes will be held in an intimate 10-person setting.

Get started.

Please e-mail me at to set up a get-acquainted session over the phone or on Skype to see if I can help you get rid of your blocks to flying.

Tapping to Sleep Better

It’s a truism that, as stress goes up, sleep goes down. I was talking with a client this week who has been having trouble sleeping. She has been using the technique of tapping on acupressure points I teach to work on some other stressors in her life but had not used the tapping on her sleep problems. I suggested these three different tapping options to try. (I’m assuming you already know how to do the mechanics of tapping here. If you haven’t learned them yet, check out my Quick Start Guide to Tapping.)

(1) If you toss and turn instead of falling asleep, tap before going to bed, saying “Even though I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, I deeply and completely accept myself, and I choose to relax completely and let my mind wander freely.” Say something like that 3 times while tapping on the karate chop point. Then do one round of tapping on each of the tapping points saying something like “I can’t fall asleep . . . I always wake up . . . the sleep apnea makes it impossible to sleep well . . . I can’t get back to sleep when I wake up . . . ” Use whatever bugs you most about your sleep issues. Then do a second round saying “I choose to relax completely and let my mind wander freely” on each point. Finally do one round where you switch back and forth — first the negative “I can’t sleep” statement on eyebrow point followed by positive “I choose to relax completely . . . ” on the side of the eye, and so on. As always, change my wording to fit what is going on for you.

(2) If you find yourself waking up then not being able to get back to sleep because your mind is getting stuck on something (food, work stress, not getting back to sleep), tap directly on that. Try: “Even though I can’t stop thinking about that report that’s due next week . . .” or “Even though I’m wide awake and I’m sure I’m going to stay that way until dawn and I’m pissed about it, I deeply and completely accept myself, and I choose to relax and let my mind wander.” Then do the 3 rounds like above — one all negative, one with just the choice statement, and one alternating between the two.

(3) Tap directly on whatever physical experience gets in the way of sleeping. Something like “Even though there is no way I will ever be able to sleep with this %*$# music from the neighbors making the walls shake, I deeply and completely accept myself and choose to be surprised at how quickly I stop even noticing it’s there.” Then try the 3 rounds as above. And, yes, if you feel like swearing about the problem, it helps to incorporate the swearing into the tapping. Swear with gusto for maximum effect.

I find when I can’t sleep, I really have to tap on being angry about not sleeping. It doesn’t matter whether I’m angry at myself, at my husband who is sleeping soundly while I’m wide wake, or at the universe for not making things go my way. If you find yourself getting angry at not sleeping, just tap on that anger even if it isn’t rational. (I know that the universe is not arranged for my comfort and enjoyment all the time). It’s much easier to let go of it if you tap on your anger than if you just grit your teeth and tell yourself to forget about it.

You may need to do whatever tapping you try more than once. But, really, if you’re not sleeping, what better do you have to do?

Get started.

If you would like some additional help figuring out how to use this tapping to get to sleep, please e-mail me at to set up a get-acquainted session by phone or Skype to discuss your blocks.

For a Healthier Heart, Just Be Happy

In case you didn’t have enough incentive to bring your stress down already, researchers have just announced that the most anxious and depressed people have the highest risk of heart disease. So, if you want a healthy heart, follow the immortal words of the song: “Don’t worry; be happy.”

Of course, this is always easier said than done. Many experts will tell you (including some in the BBC article I read about the study) your general attitude, positive or otherwise, is ingrained.

I don’t know about changing your general attitude — or your personality, as some would say — but I do know that there are a number of steps you can take to improve your response to the stresses in your life. You can exercise regularly. You can eat more of the healthier foods and fewer of the starchy and sweet foods. You can spend more time face-to-face with good people in your life. You can practice meditation or relaxation exercises like deep breathing (unless you have asthma). You could try tapping, which is also known as EFT. (Check out my Quick Start Guide for a very short introduction to tapping.) Heck, just go for a walk — a change of scenery can bring down your stress on a bad day.

So even if some of those experts are right and you can’t completely change from being a dyed-in-the-wool, stressed-out pessimist to a starry-eyed, happy-go-lucky optimist, you can at least try to move a little further towards the relaxed end of the spectrum. What do you have to lose except some stress?

The lead researcher on the study, Dr. Karina Davidson, said it very well.  “Essentially spending a few minutes each day truly relaxed and enjoying yourself is certainly good for your mental health and may improve your physical health as well.”

Get started.

Please e-mail me at to set up a get-acquainted session by phone or Skype to talk about the stresses that might be holding you back.

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Fear of Flying and Heights — Gone in One Session

I just wanted to put up a short post about a couple of late holiday “gifts” I received recently. One was helping a client get rid of her fear of flying in an 86-minute session. Of course, we won’t know that her fear is entirely gone until she actually gets on a plane, but she went from being quite tense when she spoke about things like turbulence and the feeling of loss of control while sitting in her seat to not being able to find any stress at all, even when she closed her eyes and thought about the worst flight she could ever imagine. I can’t wait to hear how her mid-winter vacation goes.

My second gift was helping another client over her fear of heights in less than an hour. Actually, we’d taken the edge off her fear a few months ago when I introduced a group to the basics of this tapping technique I use. Just that brief amount of time (maybe 15 minutes) was enough to help her be able to cross an icy pedestrian bridge over traffic in windy weather at night without even thinking about it. Before the group, crossing this same bridge on a warm and windless day had her white knuckled and looking straight ahead while trying to get over the bridge as fast as possible.

This time, with a full hour to work together, we got rid of each of the different sensations of fear of looking out of a window in a tall building as they came up. She went from holding her entire body away from the window while looking out (not down) to sticking her head out of the open window and looking straight down at the traffic over twenty stories below us without feeling any fear at all. She kept expecting the fear to come back, but it didn’t.

I never know if someone’s fear will go away in just a session, like these did, or if we will have to do more detective work to find out what is at the base of a fear. Still, it’s wonderful to help my clients to get rid of these kinds of restrictive fears. And it’s just plain fun when it happens so fast.

If you would like to try getting rid of a fear like this on your own, check out my Quick Start Guide to Tapping.

Get started.

Please e-mail me at to set up a get-acquainted session by phone or Skype to see if we can get rid of your fear of flying fast.

What To Do If You Keep Thinking About Haiti

The devastation in Haiti from this week’s earthquake is all over the news. Clients, colleagues, family and friends are all talking about the suffering there, wanting to understand and find ways to help. This is normal and can bring out the best in people. But what do you do if you seem to be obsessed about the disaster and can’t stop thinking about it?

If thinking about what happened, and is happening, in Haiti is keeping you from focusing on what you need to do at work and/or at home, you need to make some changes. The first is to turn off the news. Stop watching TV, put the newspaper in the recycling without reading it and swear off checking the current events headlines on the internet for awhile. That should help bring your stress down.

You can also do some other basic stress-relieving techniques, like exercising, going somewhere different for a change of scenery, going for a walk, getting out in nature, or doing some breathing exercises (unless you have asthma).

If none of these help, you might try the tapping technique (using my Quick Start Guide to Tapping) on what is bothering you most about Haiti. Say you keep seeing a particular image from the news. Tap on it, saying something like “Even though I can’t stop thinking about that picture of a child crying in the rubble, I deeply and completely accept myself” as your set up. Tap until thinking of that picture shifts in your mind and no longer seems overwhelming.You won’t lose your compassion for those suffering, but the thought of that suffering will stop being debilitating.

If the tapping does not change your reaction to the specific image (or interview, or idea) that has been bothering you, it may be that that image is reminding you of something that happened in your life. Ask yourself if the feeling you get thinking about that image reminds you of anything. If it does, tap on that memory even if it doesn’t seem to be related to Haiti. Our brains can make some interesting and unexpected connections. Once you tap down any negative emotions you have from your memory, check the Haiti image again. If you identified the memory that was being triggered by the Haiti news, your reaction to the image from Haiti should have changed.

It is often possible to use the tapping technique on your own effectively, but sometimes the connections in your brain can be too complex, or the memories too scary or difficult to retrieve, to work on by yourself. In that case, working with someone else (like a therapist or someone trained in this tapping thing) may help you get unstuck. Either way, it’s worth it to clear out whatever has been triggered by the news so that it doesn’t come up again the next time there is a natural disaster.

And please consider donating to reputable groups, like the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), if you can. The Haitians have had enough pain to contend with, even before this earthquake.

Get started.

Please e-mail me at to set up a get-acquainted session by phone or Skype to talk about what might be blocking you.

Are Cravings Sabotaging Your New Year’s Resolution?

It’s the new year, and a quick survey of the resolutions Americans make every year shows that losing weight is one of — if not the — most popular. Maybe it’s because, by New Year’s Day, the stress of the holiday season, family get-togethers, and trying to meet everyone’s expectations has led to too many trips to the cookie jar. Unfortunately, as most people know, losing weight is one of — if not the — most difficult resolution to keep.

I started working with a client to get rid of her cravings for sweets so she can lose the weight that crept up on her over the holidays. One of the first things I told her to do is to stop beating herself up for not sticking to a diet. This tip is counter-intuitive for most people. They think “if I make myself miserable over that bag of Lays Potato Chips I just ate, won’t that stop me from wanting to eat junk food the next time?”. Unfortunately, the answer is no. In fact, not only will yelling at yourself for giving in to a craving not help you eat less, it will very likely lead you to eat more!

Think about it. Most people break their diets when they are stressed or down. How do you feel when you get mad at yourself and say things like “I’m such a loser” or “I have no will power”? If you’re like most people, saying anything like that makes you feel more stressed and more down. Then that ice cream looks like just what you need to feel better. And on and on goes the cycle.

For some ideas on what to do to get out of this cycle, check out my post on Cravings. (Hint: relaxation exercises are much better than food to bring down your stress, but you have to remember to do them before the craving hits. Tapping can help to get to the base of what’s driving the craving.) But whatever you do, the first step is to stop hitting yourself over the head and neck (metaphorically speaking) when you give in to a craving. Instead, tell yourself you’ll do better next time. Then go do something relaxing, like exercising.

Get started.

Please e-mail me at to set up a get-acquainted session by phone or Skype to talk about what might be blocking you.

No Batteries — or Electronics of Any Sort — Required

It turns out there is an iPhone app to help people deal with their fear of flying. This app is based on Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Without Fear course. The app has a video of what to expect on a flight, answers common questions, teaches relaxation exercises, and sends daily reminders to practice those exercises. You can also use it on the flight itself for reassuring tips and breathing exercises, although you can’t use it on takeoff or landing since all mobile devices must be turned off when a plane is below 10,000 feet. The idea is that you learn over time to contain your panic. These are all good things to do to help prepare yourself for a flight.

Virgin Atlantic’s Fear of Flying course is a significant resource for people who are afraid of flying, and it carries the endorsement of celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg. One might think that the iPhone app would be equally effective. But more than 1/3 of the reviewers on the iPhone app store gave it only 1 or 2 out of a possible 5 stars, mostly because of problems they had using the app while on board the plane. Worse yet, breathing relaxation exercises such as those which appear to be one focus of this program have not been found to be particularly effective in treating fear of flying. (More’s the pity; I love breathing exercises for dealing with stress.)

With less than a week to go before Christmas, it is probably too late to get much help from this app before you get on the plane to Grandma’s anyway, even if it’s more effective than it appears to be. Relaxation exercises like this are meant to be done over time to retrain your brain not to panic in flight.

If you’re dreading your flight, check out my Quick Start Guide to tapping. It details one of the fastest and most effective relaxation exercises I’ve found. While some people need some more detailed work to get over their fear, a lot of people just tap for a few minutes on the aspect or aspects of a flight that bother them most (like turbulence), or a particular fear (like the engines all stopping at once), or a memory of a bad flight and find that their fear is either greatly reduced or gone completely.

If you try the tapping now and still find yourself with white knuckles on your flight, you can do the tapping right there on the plane. It tends to be the most effective at getting rid of a fear for good when used while you are actually doing the thing that you fear, like flying.

Get started.

Please e-mail me at to set up a get-acquainted session to see if I might help you with your own fear of flying. Yes, I work over the phone and Skype.

Food and Family Stress

I read an article on food and family stress in the New York Times last week. It was full of stories of families fighting over food at the holidays: a mother berating an overweight daughter for eating too much; a grandmother criticizing a grandson for eating too little; a father trying to keep everyone from eating chocolate. I’m willing to bet most people have at least one story like these about family problems around food to tell.

Holidays are big sources of pressure for vast numbers of people. Food issues hound many, many people. And family problems can replay every time a family gets together. Put those three together and you can have big bad stress waiting for almost everyone in the month of December. What to do? Times article recommends that people set up boundaries (that’s therapy talk for rules), like making a “good-natured announcement” that comments about how much or little a person eats won’t be acceptable this year. Then every time someone breaks the rule, call them on it. Oh, and have a sense of humor about it all. Good advice, but I was left wondering how many readers could implement it without more support. Changing ingrained family interactions is notoriously hard, especially if it is your family. That’s why we family therapists get serious training in how to interrupt those old patterns and shift everyone in the family to a new way of acting.

If you aren’t planning to get your parents, in-laws or siblings in to see a family therapist for a few sessions before Christmas or Hanukkah, you can still change the way you react to what your family members do.  Try one or more of these approaches now to get yourself ready:

  1. Practice breathing. I know, you breathe every day. How can that help? I’m talking about the kind of slow, deep breaths that bypass your chest and go all the way down to your navel. They can calm you down and help you think even in the middle of the most stressful times. (I read somewhere they teach this kind of breathing to Marines so they can use it in the middle of battle.) The reason to start practicing this kind of breathing now is that it’s much easier to remember both to do the breathing and how to do it in a stressful moment if you have been doing it every day for a few weeks until it becomes a habit. Then, when your sister says you really don’t need that extra piece of pie, you can take a deep breath and remember to smile as you tell her that comments about how much a person eats are unacceptable this year. For more details on this kind of breathing, see my earlier post. Don’t try this if you have asthma.
  2. Between now and the next family event, practice acting just the way you want to when your relatives misbehave. Here’s how. Sit somewhere quiet without distractions. Close your eyes. Run a movie of your brother sneering when you put your homemade candied yams on the table (or whatever gets you upset). See yourself reacting calmly, saying and doing exactly what you want to in exactly the way you want. If you start to get heated up, stop the movie, rewind it to a point before you got upset, then play it again seeing yourself being the cool, self-possessed person you want to be. Make the movie as vivid and full of details as you can. Do this at least once every day from now until you all sit down to dinner together. The more times you visualize responding to a stress in a certain way, the more likely you are to act that way when the stress really happens.
  3. Get on the phone and start discussing the new boundaries (remember those family rules?) with each of your family members now. You may have to clear the air before the big day. Sometimes people don’t realize what they are doing is hurtful. Calmly talking with them about how you feel now can give them time to think about changing their ways. Then they will be less likely to react defensively — and hurtfully — when you announce the new rule while carving the Christmas goose.
  4. Realize that just telling family members about the new rule may not be enough to change long-standing patterns. You may have to take action beyond just reminding your father at the holiday dinner table that it is not okay for him to call you fat when you take a roll. You may have to get up and leave the table if he continues the rude comments. You may have to leave the house. Decide now what you will do, tell your father what you will do before the day (see Approach #3), then do it if he keeps up the fat jokes after you’ve asked him to stop. Don’t make a scene. Just quietly stand up and go. Dad will be much less likely to joke about your weight at the next family gathering. That sort of dispassionate response to bad behavior is sometimes the only way to establish new boundaries.

Remember, you can’t change what other people do, only how you react to it. Then, if you change how you react, you may be surprised at how they change what they do. But you have to change first.

Of course, some stress and pain goes so deep that these steps will not be enough. You can always try using my Quick Start Guide to tapping to calm yourself down as you think about stressful family scenes from the past that you expect to replay this December. If you need more, think about a visit or two with a family therapist to work on setting those new boundaries.

Get started.

Please e-mail me at to set up a get-acquainted session by phone or Skype to talk about how we might work together on what’s blocking you.

Sleeping Despite Stress

“Jack” (whose name I’ve changed for confidentiality reasons), a solo attorney, has been working on a big case for over a year. He’s up against one of the big law firms in his city, and the stress from feeling ganged up on has been building as the trial got closer.

Last week Jack told me that he hadn’t slept well for the two nights before the pretrial conference with the judge on Friday. In fact, the night before he hadn’t slept at all. Now he had a long weekend to prepare for the trial and was worried that he might be a sleepless wreck by opening arguments on Tuesday. I went over with him the stress-relief tapping technique I use and told him to try it if he had any more trouble sleeping.

We spoke Tuesday after the first day of trial. Jack reported that he had slept very poorly all weekend long, but that “for some reason” he had slept well the night before and been quite relaxed throughout the day’s proceedings. I asked if he had tapped, and he said he had forgotten to over the weekend, but then added “Oh, I tapped last night. Maybe that was why I slept better.”

While we can’t be sure that tapping made the difference here for Jack, it is common for people to forget they tapped once their problem goes away. And I know other clients who have had relief from their insomnia when they tapped. It certainly can’t hurt to try.

Get started.

If stress is keeping you awake, try my Quick Start Guide to tapping. It might help you, too. If you would like more individual attention, please e-mail me at to arrange a get-acquainted call by phone or Skype to talk about how we might work together.