You freeze. Your mind races furiously, as you try to come up with a reply. Time seems to stretch forever while everyone in the room looks at you for an answer, the silence growing louder every second. You know the work inside out, but yet, at this crucial moment, your mind seems to have shut down. And you can’t help thinking: What is wrong with me? Why does my mind always freeze when I need it most? I am so embarrassed. Why can’t I be like other people who are calm and confident? The truth is, mind freeze is absolutely normal and there’s nothing to feel ashamed of. It’s simply our body’s way of reacting and protecting us when we are in a stressful situation. Even the most seasoned politicians have frozen during presidential debates. While this is normal, it’s still extremely painful to go through it. The blow to our confidence can be debilitating, as we start questioning our capabilities and beat ourselves up. It doesn’t have to be this way. With a little practice, staying confident under pressure can be achieved. Here are some unusual but effective techniques that help you overcome the freeze and feel confident and composed in a high-stress situation.
Reset Your Mind
When our mind goes blank under high pressure, it’s because our body feels overwhelmed by the situation and shuts down. To break the freeze cycle, use a distracting image or thought to cut through the overwhelm and reset your mind. Choose a distracting thought that has nothing to do with the situation. For example, pick an image that makes you laugh, so it eases the tension and relaxes you. You could decide on an anchor image ahead of time so it’s easy to recall whenever you need it. For example, I use an image of Homer Simpson dreaming of donuts and going “Mmm…donuts.” It’s an unexpected image in the middle of something serious, and it’s funny. Doing this interrupts your mind from the current stress and anxiety, since it switches its attention to this new thought. This helps to reset your mind so you can get back on track during the situation.
Relaxed Face Technique
Whenever we feel stress, one of the first areas to tense up are our jaw and facial muscles. This tends to go unnoticed because it happens so quickly and unconsciously that we are unaware that it’s happening. So when you feel flustered in a high-stress situation, put your attention on the back of your jaw, and consciously let go of the tension. Relaxing the jaw muscles, helps your facial muslces to relax, which also signals to the rest of the body to let go of tension. This helps you feel calmer, reduces feelings of anxiety flooding your body, and enables you to think more clearly.
Embrace the Elephant in the Room
Fighting the anxiety when you are under pressure takes up an incredible amount energy. It feels like you are repeatedly knocking your head against a massive, blank wall that surrounds you. In this state, fighting it only serves to heightens your anxiety and makes it worse. Instead of fighting it, acknowledge its presence. Don’t judge it, just breathe into it, observe it, and let it flow through and out of you. Letting it pass through you helps you bounce back and into the present quickly, which empowers you to handle the situation with confidence.
Call out Your Fears
When we feel fear, the mind can feel like a runaway train, exaggerating the negative effects on us. It becomes an oppressive dark cloud that threatens to swallow us whole, and skyrockets our panic to stratospheric levels. However, when we bring the fear out into the open, we often realize that the reality is not as bad as we thought it would be. So, call out the fear and address it: What is it that you are fearful about? What is the worst that could happen? Is this worst fear likely to occur or is it an exaggerated projection? This helps us put things into perspective that the outcome of a stressful situation is not as bad as it seems, and cools down the build up of frantic anxiety.
Be The Ball of Light in the Room
Our body language, and how we project our energy has large physiological effects on our confidence and how we feel. Project confidence by imagining a ball of energy that extends outward from you to about 1 feet from your body. This is your inviolable, sacred space. Carry yourself with this projected confident energy radiating outwards. When we move with confidence, we feel confident and energized, which others can sense immediately. As they react and reflect back the positive energy towards you, this results in a cumulative positive feedback loop, which creates more confidence within you.
Move Forward Positively
Having your mind go blank during the most crucial moments can crush your confidence. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Just putting into practice some simple techniques can have a dramatic effect on your ability to stay calm and confident in the face of pressure. Imagine feeling composed and self-assured, as you answer questions with ease and poise in a high stakes meeting. Knowing that you are able to truly display the wealth and depth of the expertise you possess and articulate it clearly and confidently. All it takes is just one step. Pick one or two of the techniques that appeal to you and try it out tomorrow. And you will be on your way to bringing out the composed and confident you that’s been there all along.
Shan Foo is an irreverent Sociologist who’s on a mission to help folks get out of confusion, leverage their full potential and step into an amazing career. Join the Free Amazing Career Community, with how-to videos on navigating career & mindset challenges, an expanding video content library and community support.
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My name is Darren Webb and i'm on a magical successful journey and also helping others have a more stress free relaxed life. I truly hope that you find a lot of useful information on my blog and that it helps you through your life.
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In 1726, at the ripe age of 20, Benjamin Franklin created a habit-tracking system to help him live a more successful life. On each day of the week, he would give himself a crossmark for the virtues he failed to practice.
“I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.” — Benjamin Franklin.
This checkmark system alone wasn’t enough for Benjamin.
Each morning, he would ask himself “What good shall I do this day?” before he wrote a short journal as he jotted down his ideas. Each evening, he would reflect on his day with this single question: “What good have I done today?”
“The quality of your life comes down to the quality of the questions you ask yourself on a daily basis.” — Tony Robbins.
His check-mark system, alongside his morning and evening questions - served to steer his life in a far more focused direction. It made him continually think about ideas he could implement each day to practice goodness, both for his benefit and the benefit of those around him.
His three daily habits, gave him an internal compass from which to measure his life’s success. His systems not only affected his daily actions but they also positively influenced his thought patterns each day.
“The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state…Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.” ― James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
All the plaudits he received in his lifetime were secondary.
In the end, his success wasn’t determined by others.
It was determined by his own standards.
His Circumstances Didn’t Determine His Success
Benjamin Franklin only had two years of education during his youth. He was the 15th child of seventeen children from a poor family background. He ran away from his family at the age of 17 after being violently beaten for writing under a pseudo-name in his brother’s newspaper.
Yet he found a way to move away from any sort of mental victim mentality.
Life’s storms, in his case, created more resilient roots.
Benjamin Franklin didn’t measure his success or failure through extrinsic rewards or his past experiences— he forged a deep internal locus of control which he then extrapolated into his three daily habits.
Are you operating based on external standards, or internal standards dictated by yourself?
In my life, just like everyone else, I’ve had my fair share of storms. From growing up with a violent stepfather, to being homeless, and being forced to move country at the age of eight.
But pain is never an excuse for mediocrity.
It wasn’t an excuse for Benjamin, and it shouldn’t be for you.
“People with an internal locus of control believe that they are responsible for (or at least can influence) their own fates and life outcomes. They may or may not feel they are leaders, but they feel that they are essentially in charge of their lives.” — Daniel J Letivin.
Did Benjamin Franklin’s Daily Habit System Help Him Live a Meaningful Life?
In his autobiography, Franklin wrote that through his daily habits, he never “arrived at the perfection he had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it.”
Yet, he admits his attempts made him a happier and far more productive man than he would otherwise have been. While he may have not reached a state of perfection, he did indeed live a life of true excellence.
The truth is, our lives will never be “perfect”. But the more relentlessly we move towards that “perfection” in our habits and character, the more our lives will reflect everything we’re yearning for.
“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves.” — James Allen
Just Some of Benjamin Franklin’s Accomplishments Include:
Inventing bifocal lenses that allow people with presbyopia to see in the distance through the upper half of the lens, and read through the lower half.
Creating lightning rods which protects millions of buildings from the hazardous effects of lightning strikes.
Founding the University of Pennsylvania and the American Philosophical Society, which have both positively influenced thousands of students lives and shaped America’s cultural landscape.
Publishing Richard’s Almanac, which contained the calendar, poems, sayings and astronomical and astrological information which pioneered the way information was presented in many books thereafter.
None of those accomplishments would have been possible had he not focused on living each day that was offered to him, with the utmost focus.
And one of his secret weapons was his daily habits.
“The Secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” — Mike Murdock
Look Inside Yourself for Your Sense of Self-Worth
The moment we begin to look outside ourselves for our measures of success, the more we run the likelihood of feeling like failures. And it’s also the moment we limit our potential success.
We’re all living within the confines of our own orchestrated reality. The moment you think someone is better or inferior then you, you limit your thinking — according to research in Nany Kline’s book Time to Think. And when you judge someone’s accomplishments in relation to yours, you perpetuate an illusion that masks your real self-worth.
Unless you’ve built your own internal measures of success, then you will always run the risk of comparing yourself to others. And that’s dangerous — you can end up risking your sense of self-esteem and unique individuality for some external standard “you’re supposed to meet”.
You’re not supposed to meet anyone’s standard.
You’re only supposed to be inspired by other people’s example.
It’s up to you to create your own standards.
“Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant
Build a System of Accountability for Your Daily Habits
Between 1707 and 1770, Benjamin Franklin lived a life of purpose, character, and excellence. While you can take great lessons from his daily habits, the reality is that your systems need to take into account your uniqueness and the times we live in.
A digital approach to tracking your habits, on a phone app or on your computer can be just as effective. You can build upon Benjamin’s ideas and refine them to suit.
If you want to cultivate the practice of tracking your daily habits, then you don’t have to necessarily track thirteen qualities and ask yourself a question every morning and night.
Experiment, and discover what works for you.
In the end, the most effective system, is the one that you can stick to.
My Daily Habits System
Differently to Benjamin Franklin, I track the actions that lend themselves to the state and emotion I want to experience each day.
In Eric Barker’s book ‘Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong” the author cites that the more we can “gamify” our lives, the likelier we’ll stick to our disciplines.
At the end of each week, I have a call with a friend (who also tracks her habits) to share how it all went — just to make this practice of discipline a little more playful.
Potential Areas to Track in Your Life
Your Health (How many workouts are you doing per week and month)
Your Knowledge (Which books are you reading, which conferences are you going to?)
Your Highlights of the Month (Gratitude)
By measuring your progress in the important areas of your life, you will always be proactively comparing yourself to who you were yesterday, and to no one else.
Life isn’t designed to give us what we need, it’s designed to give us what we earn. And we can more easily earn what we want, when we stop comparing ourselves to others, as we focus on maximizing our daily habits to their full potential.
If you want to live a life that’s 10x as meaningful in this digital age get my FREE 18-paged book on creating your best week.
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We all go through something in life we never wanted, desired, or thought even possible. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, well, consider yourself lucky and forewarned; something will happen one day, and you might want to have read these tips. Whether it’s coping with not having internet or cell phone reception for a week, (something unthinkable to so many this day and age), embracing a new life direction due to drastic job change, family dynamic, or even something like me, with a life threatening mystery illness, there is one common denominator: you have to get through it. And you can and will get through it; the how you get through it, is entirely up to you.
Here are my 5 lessons from going through my own intense health battles for the past decade and a half, resulting from a mystery illness and a sense of humor that simply refuses to give up in the midst of it all.
5 Steps For Embracing Something You Never Wanted
• 1. Side step the fact that you never wanted it. Don’t try to accept it or cope with it; just step around it. Often what makes something so unacceptable is the shocking contrast to the current, acceptable circumstances we are in. The acceptable life compared to the unacceptable life can seem too big a leap to grasp, reconcile, cope with. So, don’t try at first. Allow yourself to be in shock by simply going around the news. This way you have a little time to let the new reality sink into your mentality before actually dealing with it.
• 2. Find something outrageously positive about it—even if the reasoning might be slightly skewed. It’s a scientific law of nature that there is an equal and opposite element to every being. So, after the unacceptable has been able to seep into your consciousness, try to find some light to shed on it so it becomes as positive as can be. Perhaps you could compare it to something that would be way worse.
For example: my illness has left my body with terrible veins, a real difficulty as blood work is a necessity for my survival. One time, when I was having a particularly sick bout, I had a doctor take 3 hours of continuously poking me trying to find a vein that could hold an IV line to give me antibiotics necessary to save my life. In a particularly long “fishing” expedition of his needle deep in my arm, my positive thinking of was how much I would rather be in this scenario than at a banquet of a picnic that was covered in ants. That would really suck.
• 3. Become a salesman— pitch the positive perspective to your friends, family, and self. Time is passing, the acid taste in your mouth piles up every time you think of the unacceptable you are trying to avoid. Yet, it has slowly been turning into a part of your consciousness, and your outrageous comparable are slowing making the unacceptable seem an actual existence. You are bravely trying to put your chin up and somehow go forward. Not yet coping with it or even embracing it, more co-existing with it.
Now you need to sell it to everyone. Those who are closest to you will see the act of your sharing all the positives for what it is—an act (or at least we like to believe they do). If you can convince everyone, slowly, you might even start convincing yourself that this will somehow be survivable, maybe even okay. Perhaps you can even find pleasure in the act of trying to convince yourself of the positive. Sometimes the more ludicrous, the more amusing it can be—try it!
• 4. The Time of Acceptance Has Arrived. No, you never wanted it; yes, the positive reasons are outrageous. Life the beautiful way you imagined, knew, is no longer an option—maybe only for a time, maybe forever; who really knows? But you’re here; you can choose to be miserable, or choose to embrace this change and experience it to the fullest. *Remember, choosing to embrace the journey to the fullest doesn’t mean that you need to be positive, doesn’t mean that it will be all sunshine and daisies; it simply means that you will be fully alive, fully aware, and fully present.It’s your choice.
• 5. It’s Your Choice; Your Power; Your Decision. You always have a choice. Even if you hate the circumstances, didn’t choose them, didn’t deserve it, whatever; it’s your choice in how you get through it. With bitterness, delight, tears, or laughter, or a combination in between—it’s your choice. You are not a victim, your life is not a result whim of Life’s folly; you do have a say in how you act, how you express, how you live this moment. There in lies the power within you.
Cecilia Baldwin, Living As A Mystery Girl. After becoming a quadriplegic due to an unknown illness at just 15, Cecilia has spent the next 15 years fighting to recover what best her body could, search for answers, endure through misdiagnoses, cancer, and maintain her quirky sense of humor. With an amazing support system, super-hero Mom who is also her primary care giver, and faithful service dog at her side, she strives to not only survive but to thrive. You can follow her on her blog at : www.livingasamystery.com or on Twitter at @livingamystery
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