By Steve Wells
I once worked with a reasonably good weekend golfer who told me that on one particular course he couldn’t stop himself from hitting golf balls into a certain water trap on one of the holes. No matter how hard he tried he somehow always managed to lose at least 2 or 3 balls to that water trap. It was endlessly frustrating and embarrassing to him, and he kept trying every which way he could to change it, but no matter what he did somehow the ball kept finding its way into the water.
Of course, he wasn’t TRYING to hit the ball in the water, he was trying to IGNORE it. And the more he tried, the worse it got. This is an illustration that what we resist, persists, and the more you try NOT to focus on something the more it keeps coming into focus.
Neuroscientists have shown that when we try not to think a particular thought “the brain is constantly processing that forbidden content outside of our conscious awareness. The result? You become primed to think, feel, or do whatever you are trying to avoid.” (Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct)
It’s like your brain has to set up a monitor to compare everything else against in order to ensure you are NOT thinking that, and in order to do so, has to keep that thought (the target) in an active place. Paradoxically, giving yourself permission to think a negative thought disempowers it, and reduces the likelihood you will think it.
All those years back when I was working with this golfer I didn’t know anything about neuroscience! But I had been taught in Provocative Therapy the power of accepting the negative, going with it, and even exaggerating it. So I said to this guy: “Next time you go to tee off at that hole, take a minute to look at the water. Stand there and really focus on it. Tell yourself, ‘There’s the water! I KNOW how to hit the ball in there!” Then, after you’ve had a really good look, turn and focus on where you want to hit the ball.”
Using that strategy he knocked 14 strokes off his best score ever on that course next time he played on it! What’s more, by taking that strategy forward onto other courses he was able to knock 9 strokes off his handicap! Ok, he was only a weekend golfer but that was a fantastic achievement. And so simple.
Now here’s an interesting thing I’ve discovered since then and since I was introduced to the power of Energy Tapping. Tapping as in EFT and SET, works best when applied to the negatives, to those things that we usually try to resist and avoid. By enabling us to face our fears and giving us a way to process and release the emotional attachments in our nervous system, these simple techniques empower us to move into a new clearer space. Often, the positive emerges naturally as a result of that shift, meaning we tend to not only feel better but also we come to a place of greater mental clarity. But that may not be enough to take us where we want to go, unless we define what that is. We need to go the next step and refocus (or reset) our intention. This is where my new intention-based method comes in handy.
I’ve identified a simple 4-step process for working with intention (and which can also be applied with energy tapping) in order to more successfully achieve your goals:
1. Set your intention. Decide what you want to have, do, or be, and decide to go for it.
2. Release any emotional attachments that arise in the form of blocking beliefs, inner conflicts, resistance, and fear.
3. Restore your energy to flow which will enable you to return to a place of clarify and calm.
4. Reset your intention from this new clear space.
I hope you’ll see how this approach dovetails beautifully with the simple approach I used with the golfer all those years ago. The big difference is we now have the extra power of the tapping and intention tools to release the emotional attachments (usually in the form of blocking negative beliefs) which can arise to prevent us from taking action to achieve our goals.