Consider these two scenarios:
- You are out of town alone. You are staying in a rented apartment. On the first night, you decided to watch a frightening horror movie.
- You are with your family and friends at your home. You were all watching a ridiculously funny comedy.
Suddenly, you hear the door creak open. Which scenario are you more likely to be afraid?
I’m willing to bet that you’d be more afraid in the first scenario.
The question is, why? Is it because of the environment? Or is it something else?
The difference is not the environment. You won’t be able to control the environment anyway. The reason why you’re more likely to be afraid in the first scenario is your state of mind.
The state of mind we are in has a profound impact on how we feel and how we act than you think.
Simple (but not easy) ways to manage your state of mind
Here are seven ways to manage your state of mind:
1. Regain your focus
We may sometimes not be conscious about our state of mind. For example, I may be rushing to complete to a task when my son runs into the room seeking my attention. Because at that time, my state of mind is so focused on getting it done, and probably even feeling some form of anxiety, I may just snap at my child.
The quickest way to regain your focus is to ask a question. For that matter, ask a better question. To regain my focus, I will have to remind myself not to simply ask, “what do you want?”; but to ask myself, “how can I show him my love and attention, while at the same time letting him know I need to complete my task?”
2. Write it down
Fear, anger, anxiety are all emotions that start in the mind. And by keeping it all in the head, we are feeding it rather than handling it. Also, because it is in our head, we cannot see it, we cannot touch it, we cannot smell it. We can only feel it.
Therefore, the way to bring these emotions to the level of consciousness is to write it down. When you pen down your thoughts about what’s going in your mind, you not only literally get it out of your head, you are now better able to deal with it.
One method I used is this:
- Write down my fear
- Write down what’s the worst that can happen
- Write down what’s within my control
- Write down what I am going to do about those things within my control
3. Recite power virtues
Years back when I started teaching the Principles of Engage Mastery course for teachers, I’ve always advocate being clear about your values. Because if vision is about the end in mind, and mission is about why you exist, then values are about how you would achieve that end in mind that aligns with your reason for existence.
While I may have my values written down, I’ve found it difficult to manifest it in such a way that would contribute to my efforts in achieving my end in mind. That’s when I learned from Tony Robbins’ Power to Shape Your Destiny program that, instead of writing values, think of power virtues.
These power virtues are essentially the emotions that must precede the actions necessary to accomplish your tasks.
4. Show gratitude and appreciation
Day and night cannot co-exist. And just like day and night, gratitude and fear cannot co-exist. You cannot be grateful and fearful at the same time. You cannot be appreciative and angry at the same time.
However, showing gratitude and appreciation is just like exercise. It is something that you must act on; not something that acts on you. There’s no gratitude enforcement team to stop you in your tracks that forces you show to gratitude. You have to be your own gratitude enforcement team.
5. Take action
Taking action means you are not staying still. It means you are making some form of progress. Making progress doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting it right. Because it could mean that you are making mistakes and perhaps even failing. And to paraphrase Thomas Edison, you’ve made progress by discovering the different ways of not making a light bulb.
You already know about the benefits of exercising. You also know that by exercising you build up the necessary energy required to deal with any form of adversaries. Besides, exercise is another form of taking action.
I see exercising as a way to prepare my body and mind for the work ahead. And just knowing that my body and mind is ready puts me in a far better position to deal with any challenges ahead. And trust me, there will be challenges ahead.
This final step may not surprise you. And its probably the simplest of all, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily easy.
So learn to smile like George.