Stressing ourselves by assuming the worst

Did you ever notice how easy it is to get all worked up over something if one assumes the worst about it?

For instance, someone you like tells you they can’t make it to some event, and unresourceful thoughts about why they can’t make it appear out of nowhere, taking you down some rather tortuous paths. These thoughts could include

– that person does not like me any more

– that person is upset with me

– that person is more interested in something or someone else

and so on.

Now, if we give these thoughts any value and pay attention to them, they often get all excited and bring even more unresourceful thoughts to the party. Unfortunately, with all these thoughts and their associated emotions/feelings circulating around inside us, the party can quickly turn into a funeral or worse.

It does not take long for these thoughts, (especially when their cohort of feelings such as anger, sadness, pain, etc. is present), to generate a pretty miserable state of mind and heart. We get stressed out and that leads to even more miserable feelings, as well as health issues.

The question which arises is what can one do when these sorts of thoughts appear. Some philosophies talk about understanding that our thoughts are not us, and often not real. That’s a good start, but what makes it harder for many is that these thoughts have so much energy because there are all those associated feelings. Feelings can make a thought which we would normally dismiss as silly seem very real and worthy of all our attention.

Applying logical analysis to thoughts is also a lot easier when those thoughts are not charged with emotional energy.

My suggestion is to take a four step approach:

1. Notice the thoughts in a conscious fashion, perhaps even writing them down so they appear in some sort of tangible form.

2. Notice what emotions and feelings arise in concert with those thoughts.

3.  Use a technique for releasing unresourceful feelings, such as AER (Awareness, Expression, Resolution) to take the charge off the feelings.

4.  Apply some logical analysis technique, such as Byron Katie’s “The Work” to see if there is any truth to the thoughts or if they are really just speculations which serve us no good.

Using this simple but effective approach, you should be able to start to notice which thoughts are useful to you and which ones are not. Those which are the result of some deeper fears or negative beliefs about self-worthiness will start to lose their grip as you drain the energy from them.

I wish you well on this journey. 🙂

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Vibert, all rights reserved

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The 30 Day rule for Affirmations

I was listening to a presentation by Jack Canfield today about the 30 day rule for affirmations.  According to Jack , it takes 30 days to rewire our brains into new habits. This concept is based on some NASA research with astronauts and how their brains were able to adapt to wearing convex goggles that turned their vision of the world upside down. After 30 days, they all could see the world right side up, as their brains had created enough new circuitry to flip around their vision to right side up.

Jack then extrapolates from this to say that if you affirm something (or envision it) for at least 30 days, that greatly increases the probability of it happening.

Given my predilection for seeing how AER (Awareness Expression Resolution) can be applied to so many circumstances, I naturally saw the possibility of improving one’s odds with the 30 day rule. All one has to do is pay attention to what surfaces when one makes an affirmation or envisions some goal. By “what”, I mean pay attention to to any thoughts, feelings or body sensations which arise. If these are in any way unsupportive of the vision/affirmation, then there is likely to be some emotional charge that will get in the way. If that happens to me, I “whip out” AER and dissolve that charge in a few minutes.

So, if you’ve been trying to use Jack’s 30 day rule and have found it not so easy to get what you want, then pay attention to the internal responses you are generating and release them using AER or something similar.

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Vibert, all rights reserved

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Brain Plasticity and AER

Recent research into how our brains adapt to inputs from the environment, rewiring themselves to reflect that to which they are exposed, has triggered some thoughts in my own cranium on how my AER Stress Reduction technique can be used even more effectively. (If you want to know more about this adaptive process of our brain, do a search for “Brain Plasticity” and you should get close to 1 million hits. Happy Reading! OK, that might be a bit much to do this afternoon, so instead, visit this site to start.)

If we consider that the neural networks of brain matter that store old memories and feelings can be influenced by the use of meditative techniques such as AER, not only will those memories and feelings be greatly reduced in intensity, but the opportunity then arises to supplant them with more positive feelings. The use of affirmations, for example, will then have a fighting chance of provoking change, as the resistance presented by old memories and feelings will be much lessened. Normally, affirmations only work when there is no emotional blockage getting in the way. Telling yourself that you live with abundance when you have trouble paying the bills each month rarely does more than frustrate you – nobody is being fooled.

When I first started writing about this concept on my web site, I knew it would work (having already used this approach to help lots of people), but the scientific evidence had not yet been published. Now, it is most gratifying to see the research coming out to validate this approach to improving one’s emotional wellness.

Getting an Affirmation to work

A positive affirmation can help steer you onto a better path, so long as there is no emotional issue (trauma, dysfunctional belief, etc.) which is contrary to that affirmation. If such an issue exists, then one needs to first clear the “pathway” in the brain (which includes the brain in your head, the one in your heart and the one in your gut. If  that “pathway”of the emotional response, or what some might call a rut, is not “smoothed out”, then no matter what one tries to do (like align oneself with an affirmation), then that pathway will be followed as the default route.

This is where AER (Awareness Expression Resolution) comes in. The AER process can significantly speed up the natural human process of releasing emotional “stuff” which is no longer of any use to us. This “stuff” can include residues of traumatic events, stress, anxiety, grief, sadness, anger and other feelings/emotions which get in the way of us having a peaceful life. Humans are not designed to hold onto these feelings for a long time and traditional societies often had processes to enable us to release them. Modern society has become fixated on convenience, and as a result, instead of releasing these feelings once they have run their course, we “take a pill” and muffle them until they come out as heart attacks, depression, apathy, etc. These “pills” which provide some temporary relief or distraction are not only prescription medications, but also plenty of others which are readily available in your neighborhood: chocolate, ice cream, fudge, alcohol, nicotine, TV, extended exercise, etc.

There are many ways to release emotional “stuff” and stress, and all effective ones work on the basis of what we humans do naturally – so long as we do not constantly re-activate the feelings and there-by retrace their neural pathways, they will fade away over time. Much of psychotherapy, for example, is based upon this repeated limited exposure to unresourceful feelings and thoughts, with just enough time spent on them to allow the feelings to surface briefly and then fade a little more. Eventually, they have faded to the point that they no longer present a problem to the client.

When I started researching trauma and how it could be dealt with effectively, I noticed that most therapeutic modalities did two things:

– they gave clients limited exposure to the trauma so as to not overwhelm the client (and the practitioner) and

– they stopped the releasing process once the feelings had reached a “manageable” level.

Most modalities, other than those which are more body-centric (somatic), tend to involve “thinking” about the feelings associated with an issue rather than actually experiencing them fully. Research has shown that different parts of our head brain get activated when we think than when we feel. If one spends time thinking about the issue, it is natural that some of the feeling associated will surface. However, the amount of feeling that arises is typically only enough to allow for a very limited release. This explains, in part, why talk therapy can take a long time to produce results – there is only a little releasing happening in each 50 minute session, as most of the time only the thinking part of the head brain is activated.

There are therapeutic modalities which invoke much deeper experiences of the feeling and these often produce a faster releasing of the stored feelings. Even with these, though, there is often a lot of thinking activity being used – the client might have to repeat certain phrases or tell some sort of story/dialogue or do other mental exercises. Based on my experiments, most of this verbalizing and thinking actually gets in the way of the releasing process as often as it helps. People who have come to me to experience the AER process after trying to let go of issues and traumas using a variety of modalities report that they got distracted by all the steps and talking involved in some modalities.

AER – Awareness Expression Resolution is actually one of the simplest approaches to releasing that I have seen. It takes the normal human releasing process and “boosts” it by using intention, full awareness and full presence of the stored issue, together with the now well accepted advantages of using contact on body meridians.

Since AER is designed to work as an accompaniment to the natural human releasing process, people find it works well even if they get the steps out of order or forget to do a step – so long as they have the intention to release, all the rest of the AER process serves to assist that intention become a reality. AER is not a process that involves a lot of willpower and effort to release. It involves a surrender to what it is, with little thinking about it and a full experience of what is.

We all know how to release emotional “stuff” and we do it all the time – “time heals all wounds”. It is our modern addiction to convenience and pain-free living that has caused us to do everything but experience some feelings fully and then release them fully.

AER just boosts that process for us. I’ve seen people let go in 10 minutes of the trauma of having had bombs fall around them.

What is the role of affirmations?

One does not “need’ affirmations, per se. They can be a good way to enhance our lives by pointing toward where we want to be. If you want to use any of the many affirmation processes out there, AER can truly enhance that experience and make it more effective, by helping clear the neural pathway for the affirmation to take hold. This also applies for any of the Law of Attraction systems you may be considering.

Who can use AER?

AER is a process that anyone can do by themselves. It is quick and easy to learn. I plan to put together some training material in the coming weeks – a PDF manual, an MP3 recording and a video. All will be available for a modest sum.

While it is a good idea to have someone properly trained facilitate your first AER session, just like having someone guide you when you learn to ride a bicycle, it is not essential.

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Vibert, all rights reserved

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