“Mistakes and pressure are inevitable; the secret to getting past them is to stay calm… New research shows that most of us go about staying calm the wrong way.” – Travis Bradberry
EXPLORE | Should I Stay or Should I Run?
It may vary from person to person, but we all have at least one trigger that sends us into panic mode. Turns out, trying to will ourselves to calm down has just about the same outcome as someone telling us to “just chill.” Willing something doesn’t make it so. However, I have to say, we could always just carry around this picture of a boat with us. Boat, at sunset, on a still lake = calm.
We lived in Colorado for several years and really enjoyed hiking. A posted sign we saw often when getting up into the foothills was what to do when approached by a mountain lion (certainly a trigger for everyone). Essentially, the advice was to be scarier than them. Make yourself big, loud–and don’t run! Reading one of those signs kind of made you wonder who was attacking who?!
That may not be too far from the advice we need to take when confronted by a potentially “de-calming” situation even when not in the mountains.
New research has revealed that “People who welcome the challenge of a crisis—so much so that overcoming the challenge excites them—perform far better than those who try to force themselves to be calm.”
Our ‘attacking’ the issue or crisis seems to neutralize what might otherwise be a panicked response. Calm, and even confidence, comes from our heading in the direction of the cause of nerves and turning our “anxiety into energy and excitement.”
As you might expect, Travis gives us some good questions to consider to help settle us, but what he’s missing is a crucial first step, and the sure footing with which we should respond to all of life.
EXECUTE | Peace Then Calm Under Pressure
I view calm and peace a little like happiness and joy. Whereas calm and happiness are situational, and fleeting, peace and joy are foundational, and permanent. As is the case with most of the articles at Wisdom In All Things, we need to take the author’s suggestions as being a layer we apply to a firm foundation. What we have then is a sensible application of science, or physiology, or logic, to a biblical basis.
Strength in our weakness. First, and this is always first, pray. “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” – 2 Cor. 12:9
Remind ourselves of the ‘sure footing.’ We can’t lose sight of the peace we already have in Christ. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Phil. 4:7 As a Christian, this is true of us in all situations. We have peace, and it will guard our hearts and minds.
Slow to speak. In pressurized situations, are minds tend to race. Keeping our mouths shut, at least at first, can be best for our thinking, and ultimately, responding properly. Being slower to speak allows time for logic to begin forming, and the Spirit to help us present the “truth in love.”
Desire the desired behavior. “Staying composed, focused, and effective under pressure are all about your mentality. People who successfully manage crises are able to channel their emotions into producing the behavior that they want.” One of the first questions we want to ask is: how do I really want to respond to this situation? We need to set our desires on that response.
Grab a hold of logic. As we channel our desire toward the calmer response, continue the line of questioning. In essence, we’re ‘stalling’ panic to allow logic to take over to bring reality to our perspective. Travis offers two key questions to ask:
What’s the worse that will result?
Will this matter in 5 years?
It’s not you, it’s the situation. Bradberry suggests that if a public failure is the cause of anxiety, realize that people are focused less on you and more on correcting what caused the anxiety in the first place. That may be true in part, but what may help further is quickly apologizing, and then leading the way to the solution. Owning it would seem to help us more quickly get past the initial embarrassment (i.e. the source of anxiety) and direct everyone’s attention to the ‘fix’.
We can’t be surprised by finding ourselves in pressure situations. Regardless of our being the cause of the anxiety, we can respond the right way by appropriating our ‘firm foundation’ and ‘attacking’ the source of anxiety. The peace that God provides will allow us to guard our hearts and minds so that we can think and respond calmly.
[Original article: how to be calm under pressure]