Thursday, October 28, 2010
The Surprising Link Between Kindness and Performance
I’ve been struck by how much kindness and acceptance catapults success in healing pain and accelerating performance. Kindness and acceptance — not the words most people think of for “kicking butt” in sports performance or overcoming fear of public speaking or music performance!
It seems that many people, including myself, learned that getting tough with ourselves or somehow giving ourselves some little “lecture” for our less-than-stellar performance would somehow help us improve! Even on simple things like, “Oh, you forgot your water bottle again!” (said with frustration and a mild, nearly unnoticeable sense of disdain). “Gosh, Bernadette, it takes you three trips before you can start the car and leave!” I’m not really aware at the time that I am chastising and judging myself harshly — I just feel the frustration, and the frustration raises havoc with own sense of goodness and the good feeling of my day. But hey, it’s just a small thing, right?
In truth, this frustration causes a literal disturbance in the neurology of my body — there is a disturbance in my energy system, and if not corrected, can create an acceleration of “negative” energy for the day.
The more I try to “be better” (“OK, I’m going to go to bed earlier and get more sleep”), the more intractable the habit becomes. It’s not that it can’t be shifted. It’s that I judge myself for having “the problem,” therefore a part of me will always resist changing it. I will resist getting to the goals I really do want. I’ve noticed this is a universal unconscious phenomenon with all of us. The old saying is true: What we resist persists.
How has criticism helped you?
I grew up with lots of criticism. Lots of people have. Parents want the best for their children. They want their children to be the best people they can become. Some problems develop when parents see the child as an extension of their own “goodness” or “badness” (anything less than perfect!).
What exactly were you criticized for? I wonder if you are continuing that history of criticizing yourself — a good question to ponder. Has this criticism really ever made you a better person? By contrast, useful critique can give us very important feedback. It might sting a little at the time, but it can truly make us better people! Critique, when skillfully done, is a powerful tool for allowing us to see more clearly and empowering us to make important changes. But the kind of criticism I’m talking about is different. It’s not constructive. It’s certainly not kind. Has this kind of criticism ever made you a better person?
“Oh,” you say, “I’ve gotten over being critical with myself!” But . . . that’s not my experience of people. I keep hearing ALL my clients being really hard on themselves! The harshness of criticism seems to transfer into, “If I’m really good, if I do everything in a superior way, then (my parents or I) will be so proud of me. I’ll earn their acceptance! If only I could ________” . . . You can fill in the blank with winning the tournament, the race, the audition, getting the sale, writing the book … or being prettier, smarter, richer, thinner, more athletic… Usually, this kind of criticism is expressed with harshness. And that creates a wall of resistance to your goals ever happening.
Accomplishing excellence through kindness and acceptance
I think knowing about Dr. Masaru Emoto’s scientific experiments with water is crucial to really ‘getting’ this effect of kindness on our performance. (You can read the specifics in my science report on Why EFT Works. His experiments display what scientifically happens to water when we direct loving, compassionate thoughts to the water, or thoughts of anger, hostility or negativity to it. (We’ve all heard about how talking to your plants in loving ways helps them flourish!)
Identical glasses, amounts, and kind of water showed changes this way:
Glass 1 – Dr. Emoto directed loving, compassionate thoughts. The water crystals showed brilliant, complex and colorful snowflake patterns, which he and others have described as beautiful.
Glass 2 - Dr. Emoto directed thoughts of anger, hatred and negativity toward this glass. The water crystals formed incomplete, jagged, asymmetrical patterns with dull gray colors, described as ugly, not enjoyable to look at.
Since the human body is almost completely water, his high-speed photographs of water crystals seem a very good replica of what would transpire in the human body when it responds to kindness or harshness.
The remedy of kindness – fueling for success
The remedy for our being hard on ourselves and creating a resistance to the very success we desire is KINDNESS. Sounds simple enough, but you’ll need to become really good at sniffing out the subtle and multitude of ways in which you are hard on yourself. (I know, I’ve been mastering the skill of being hard on myself for over half a century!) We will discuss the art of sniffing out the ways of being hard on ourselves in a future article.
EFT works beautifully and powerfully on this ingrained harshness with ourselves. We must consistently apply EFT to our episodes of self- recrimination and “feeling bad” for simple mistakes, railing on ourselves with high frustration and aggravation. These emotions just flood our neurochemistry into a stress response. We Don’t Need It! It doesn’t help us!
Try this mini-EFT protocol to begin the process of allowing your best to come forward with the cleansing of kindness and compassion. Just remember how your plants flourish, and the amazing work of Dr. Emoto with kindness and water!
EFT Protocol – Try a little kindness
Pick something you’ve done (or failed to do) in the past that gets you frustrated or upset when you think about it. Some examples are:
- I ate that piece of decadent cake and then had another! (I’m horrible!)
- I didn’t pay the bill on time and now I have that finance charge! (What an idiot!)
- I had a chance to win and I blew it! (It’s unforgivable!)
Start by tapping the karate chop point as you say the following:
Even though I’m really mad at myself for ___, I could consider being kind to myself anyway.
Even though I feel so stupid for ___, I can give myself a break.
I make mistakes like all people, and I’m wondering if I could give myself a bit of compassion and kindness!
Eye: This “I screwed up” feeling.
Side of Eye: This “I really blew it” feeling.
Under Eye: I wonder if I really need to be on my case about this.
Under Nose: Well, I can keep kicking myself if I want to!
Chin: Yet, everyone makes mistakes. I do too, and I accept myself for that.
Collarbone: (Thymus Thump) I’ll probably make more mistakes too – and I deeply and completely accept myself anyway!
Under Arm: I can be kind to myself – it feels much better this way.
Top of Head: Even though I make mistakes, kindness and compassion feels pretty helpful.
Take a deep breath and "let it go".
Now, notice the following:
Feeling / Intensity: Rate your current level of (feeling “bad” or whatever your feeling was) with your problem on a 0-10 scale. Is there less?
Sensation / Body Location: Do you notice less of the body sensations? Is your breathing slower? Do you feel more relaxed? Where?
Another Round of Tapping
Here are the differences in the second round (and any necessary subsequent rounds to deal with the negative feeling itself):
When you tap the karate chop point, the phrase you'll say three times is:
Even though I’ve screwed up in the past, and probably will again, I love this feeling of compassion.
I like practicing compassion for myself. A little tenderness and kindness feels really good right now.
Even though it’s easy to make mistakes, I’m enjoying this kind, compassionate feeling for myself.
Eye: Yup, I’m enjoying this calmer, safer feeling in my body right now.
Side of Eye: I like this kindness – it feels better than that old frustration
Under Eye: I could get used to being kind to myself !
Under Nose: Choosing kindness is helping me feel better and do better.
Chin: Making mistakes is not the end of my world!!
Collarbone: I perform better when I’m calm and confident.
Under Arm: This new kindness is becoming a habit!
Top of Head: I’m beginning to feel the calmness throughout my body – what a great feeling!
Take a deep breath and “let it go.”
Worth your time
I’ve seen interesting and heartening examples of the effect of kindness, including this recent email from South Africa:
“I was having a restless night last night and when I decided to be kind to myself, I felt my energetic frequency change and I settled down. Feeling your kindness has helped me be kind to me.”
Patience is everything