When trying to live a good life and have a positive attitude, we often reflect on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. All three are important and have a huge impact on how we engage in our day-to-day life.
Hard to Shift Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors
Sometimes our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are hard to shift. We might know we’re not thinking logically, but have a difficult time making a change. We might feel down in the dumps, or anxious, but not be able to turn it around. We might know that we should do something, but struggle to get going.
Changing Our State
Often the reason why we try to change our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is because we want to change our state. We long to change the way we engage with ourselves and the world. Often, we want to present in a more confident or powerful way. We want to engage effectively and be able to do what is in our best interests.
Riding the Waves of Circumstance
More often than not, however, our state goes up and down depending on our circumstances. The problem is that sometimes circumstances are good, and sometimes they are bad. That’s just how life goes. Think about your own life right now. If you have had a few recent successes in school or work, your state is probably pretty good. But if a recent failure is on your mind, you might be feeling down. If you are feeling healthy and well-rested, there’s a good chance your state will be positive. If you’re sick, tired, hungover, or injured, however, your state will trend downward.
The Power of Context
There’s also the problem that our state changes based on our context, as well as our history of success or failure in that context. I remember throughout most of my young adulthood, I felt strong and confident in the context of school and work, but weak and insecure in the context of athletics and dating. Unless I had a girlfriend, of course. Then I felt strong and confident until I didn’t have a girlfriend anymore.
5 Steps to Change Your State
Might there be a way to have more control over our state, and not be at the mercy of our changing circumstances? I think there is, and I’d like to share an intervention I learned to move into a powerful state quickly and easily. Here’s how it works:
1. Think about a time in your life when you felt very strong and confident, like you could do anything. Close your eyes and focus in on the experience. Replay it in your mind over and over again. (For me, I thought about the time I first did a muscle-up in Crossfit. I felt like I could conquer the world.) Focus all your energy on that experience, and anchor it in your body. For example, focus on the experience and put all that energy into your right hand. If the energy had a shape, what would it be? If it had a color, what would it be? If it had a temperature, what would it be? (For me, I imagined a hot, pulsing, white ball of energy in my right hand, like my own personal sun.)
2. Think about a time when you felt incredibly successful. Think about a time when you did a great job on something, and really knocked it out of the park. (I thought about the time when I got my first grant as principal investigator. I felt happy and proud of the accomplishment.) Go through the same process and anchor it in your body. Put all that energy into your right hand.
3. Think about a time when you felt totally and completely connected. Think about a time when you were giving and receiving love and acceptance with your whole self. (I thought about my wedding day, and watching Jenn walk down the aisle.) Go through the same process and anchor it in your body. Put all that energy into your right hand.
4. Repeat this process several times, again and again, linking your positive and strong experiences with the anchor in your body.
5. When you are struggling with strength or confidence, and want to put yourself in a positive state, close your eyes. Focus all your energy on the physical anchor in your body. For example, I close my eyes and picture the hot, pulsing, white ball of energy in my right hand. Because of the strong link between the physical anchor and my past experiences, focusing on the anchor now can shift my state automatically.
- What do you think of the steps to anchor a positive state?
- What have you found to be beneficial when trying to shift your state?
By Joshua Hook
Joshua completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2010. He is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Texas. Through his writing and speaking, he helps men step forward into healing and growth. Follow Joshua’s blog and download his free e-book ‘A Journey of Healing and Growth’ at www.JoshuaNHook.com
Photo Credit: U.S. Naval Forces Central Command via Creative Commons