Learning how to stay calm is a skill like any other skill. Learning how to respond and not react in situations can be improved and even mastered over time and here’s the even better news, you don’t have to go on a retreat or denounce society to grow this skill. In fact, the more you can identify and face everyday stressful situations, the better will be your stillness in these, as well as other, times of pressure.
Okay so what are the practical daily habits I used to place me on a path to greater grace under fire I hear you ask? Well for me the starting point was identifying areas in my life where I was overreacting or allowing stress levels to increase unnecessarily.
Firstly, I captured the situations that stressed me. These weren’t the one off times but the automatic, chronic situations that had strong momentum and seemed like a natural part of who I was. For two weeks before going to sleep I would review my day each night and write out the times during the day I reacted inappropriately.
This practice of capturing negative responses first began when I was playing basketball in the Australian NBL. I noticed that during games I would become frustrated with referees if things didn’t go my way. This pattern would also show up in games towards opposition players when calls didn’t go in my favour.
Once I was able to capture the patterns and areas where I was reacting out of frustration then I was able to write specific affirmations for these areas that were personal, positive and present tense. For example, for my overreactions on the court the first affirmation I wrote was; ‘I respond with a smile and calm to every call’. I would read this statement out loud before sleep and when awakening in the morning. After visualising this affirmation and feeling the effortless ease with which I responded to calls on the court over a few weeks, I suddenly realised during a game, that it was now an effortless new response. When it came to calls made on the court I was now accepting, relaxed and it even move to the stage where I would joke along with the referees on occasions after a call.
As a result of this early success using affirmations and visualisations I began to use affirmations and visualisations in many other areas of my life. I used affirmations and visualisations to drive better, for a better mindset in auditions, and to respond better and listen more effectively to my partner.
Affirmations and visualising are extremely affective for real change at a deep level of our self image. The key to using affirmations and visualisations successfully for me has been Persistence and Patience. Some changes can be quick say within a week or so, whereas others may take several weeks. Using imagery and feeling is powerful but some visions and feelings are harder to conjure up than others. I had to keep reminding myself that I’m changing how I see myself at a deep level and this process must be one of trust. As I could see and feel myself responding differently that trust just grew and grew to a point where the new response happened naturally without me actually realising it.
Finally, a sense of fun and play was essential too. Bringing that sense of fun and play to the way I saw referees calling the game not only calmed me down but it actually made me a more effective player. Instead of forcing moves on the court I let things come to me more and I made better decisions throughout the game. So, capture the areas you want to change. Affirm the new quality of responding with personal, positive and present tense affirmations. Then in a relaxed state speak the affirmation once to yourself or aloud and visualise the quality with fun and feeling. And be persistent and patient.
Peace & Love.