Often when we stress about something the first thing lost is common sense or basic behaviours… what in normal circumstances we would consider to be automatic responses, can suddenly be beyond us… we lose the power of speech and start gabbling, the power of our limbs – hands and feet shake, breathing, normally an action to which we give no thought whatsoever, becomes laboured, short of breath.
In extreme circumstances we may even faint, throw up, fall over or all three … but usually nothing so drastic occurs … we suffer some varying degrees of discomfort, and wish we could have dealt with that situation/task much better.
So here are 5 tips that enable us all to realise that we are not at the mercy of circumstances that overtake us but that we can very easily and quickly learn to reassess and regroup our feelings and our behaviour to respond much more effectively in any situation.
Each of the tips in this report/blog are key stand alone techniques which will enhance behaviour helping us to achieve success easily and quickly in all areas of our lives especially in achieving Successful Learning Outcomes. Also isn’t it wonderful to realise that becoming successful is an ongoing process with room for improvement ad infinitum.
When faced with a learning task and indeed any other task or meeting or behaviour it can be extremely useful to consciously express an intention for that task… lets take an example … lets imagine we are learning a foreign language and for the next class we have to learn a list of vocabulary 10 -20 words… we have a week perhaps to learn them and we know that the more often we actually get down to learning the words ( I will speak more about effective methods of learning in another blog) little and often would be more effective than trying to cram them at the end of the week or the night before!
Still we just can not get motivated enough to get down to learning those words, we are procrastinating and as we procrastinate we are also finding ourselves becoming overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task as the deadline approaches so the task seems to grow!
A very simple method of circumventing all this grief is to set an intention for the task – we have these words to learn …
There can be any number of outcomes to a task or behaviour and setting an intention for the task can very much guide us not only in actually completing the task but also in determining how and to what standard the task needs to be completed, according to whom?
Well of course the most effective intention will be when it set by and for the benefit of the person carrying out the task, the intention meets the needs or desired outcomes of the person carrying out the task.
If we must get 20/20 in the test in order to impress the teacher or get a promotion then the seriousness and dedication with which we approach the task might be much greater perhaps than if it was to be able to speak to locals while on holiday or to family and friends who already speak English well and this is to be another string to your bow.
I wonder which of the scenarios above will be the more affective for learning? The one in which we are pressurisation ourselves to attain perfection or where we allow ourselves to relax and go with the flow?
Identify our intention behind learning these words:
• Is it to get 20/20 in the test in class to impress our teacher?
• Is it to be able to speak the language fluently so that we can get that promotion to work in a country where that language is spoken?
• Is it to get on better with family/friends/spouse who speak that language?
Now you may be thinking what has posture got to do with learning? The answer is that posture is the single most easily and quickly accomplished change which can have a massive impact on a person physically, mentally and emotionally – in changing negative feelings and behaviours into positive feelings and behaviours in a matter of seconds!
Try it for yourself right now and see what impact it has for you?
• If you are sitting down stand up or lie down.
• If you are slouching back on your sofa try sitting up straighter.
• If you are sitting up relax back in your chair.
There has been a great deal of research which has found that how we feel can be very much related to our posture, for example it is very difficult to feel depressed while looking up towards the ceiling or the sky – hence the admonishment to someone looking:
“down in the mouth”
This is not to say that everyone must adopt the same posture to find the most effective one for them, not at all!
Some people find it better to sit back and relax in order to learn effectively others need to be sitting up straight.
Initially it could be interesting to try out various postures to see which is more effective, you may be surprised to find that actually you learn better when sitting in a relaxed posture or that you need to be moving around while memorising your vocabulary.
Changing and trying out different postures and exploring the possibilities and effectiveness of different positions for different tasks, behaviours, and indeed for different intentions could be much more rewarding then to become fixated on any particular posture.
Having said this it is rarely beneficial for anyone to be slumped over a desk, head in your hands, and it may be useful to just straighten your back, look up, perhaps stand up(?) or for some people leaning back or leaning their head on one hand would enable them to think more positively, to be more receptive to information….
At this initial stage I would suggest:
• Experimenting with different postures to have a store house of ones that work and
• Even more beneficially remembering to change your posture whenever you start to notice any negative feelings:
After posture, breathing is the next most powerful way of influencing our feelings.
Surprisingly perhaps even though breathing is essential to life, we breath very shallowly as a rule, allowing air into only the top part of our lungs.
This debilitates the effectiveness of our bodies to optimise the utilisation of the oxygen we take into our lungs to efficiently provide the energy required to perform vital functions and eliminate waste products from the body.
Even more astonishingly, when stressed we stop breathing – hold our breath – for quite long periods this causes further physical stress to our bodies as the brain notices a lack of oxygen and immediately sends out distress signals which further exacerbate our body physically, mentally and emotionally this can lead to us forgetting our own name let alone any information we are already nervous about having memorised!
So to enhance learning it is essential make a practise of breathing deeply into our stomach leaving plenty of room for our lungs to expand and take in as much oxygen as possible to optimise the essential processes of our body. If we make a conscious decision to take five – ten deep, slow breaths every so often, whenever we remember in fact, this will have an extremely beneficial affect on all aspects of our health and well being – physical, mental and emotional.
Whenever we start to notice stress levels beginning to rise after we have changed our posture we then: • Pay attention to our breathing – at first just noticing it, how fast it is… • Then slowing it down and breathing into our stomachs • Breathing more and more slowly and deeply with each breath, noticing how we begin to calm down and relax and can then • Allow the vocabulary to be remembered effortlessly.
4. Choosing and Building State
What is state?
In the context of learning Positive/Supportive States might be:
– Calm and relaxed
– Peaceful and content
Negative/Obstructive Statesmight be:
We all know that state affects how we function – just by how when we “get out of the wrong side of the bed” we look and feel miserable, muddling through a day where mistakes and accidents abound, we lack any self belief, where the simplest venture is bound to fail… we are not aware of or devalue any successes.
Yet when we are having a good/great day we feel wonderful, everything we touch turns to gold, we believe in our success, failure is not in our vocabularly, we feel we could fly, where even if something flops dismally we find the learning from it and move on.
Changing our posture and breathing can vastly improve our state but another action which can vastly improve our levels of competence can be to choose a state which we think would be most helpful to a particular situation.
We can do this by remembering a time when we were particularly successful at a task, we remember all the feelings, sights and sounds, smells and tastes associated with that memory – what was our posture, how we were breathing and what kind of state was it?
– Excited or calm
– Powerful or content
– Confident or Peaceful
Giving the state a name, remembering the feelings, sights, sounds etc. enables us to recreate that state now and improve our performance immediately.
If for whatever reason we are not able to access any successful memories or if we desire a change that goes beyond anything we may have firsthand experience with then it can be very effective to think of someone who accomplishes the task really well and looks and behaves with the characteristics we admire and wish to emulate… to imagine what we believe their intention might have been, to imagine their posture, how they breath, what sort of state we believe they are in.
Now for the last but by no means least effective tip for achieving success, which will circumvent the stresses involved in attempting to attain perfection, is to detach from the outcome… by almost forgetting about it – putting it to the back of our minds and allowing ourselves to just focus on the task at hand.
This is something which occurs qhite unconsciously when we are up against a deadline and we know that now we just have to get on with it as we don’t want to let down other people, we don’t want to lose our job….. or what ever drives us.
A way of doing this consciously can be to consider:
– What is the worst thing that can happen if we don’t get what we want?
– What is the worst thing that won’t happen if we don’t get what we want?
What does failure really mean?
– Now we can never have what we want?
– If we don’t get this now, would it be the end of the world?
– The end of life as we know it? •
Or does failure to achieve something right now mean that:
– The next time we will have more information about what not to do, so we are now closer to success?
– Perhaps it did not work out thbecause this was not the time for us?
– That perhaps the reason why we did not really work harder enough, in time to get something is that we didn’t really want it … then?
– So failure could mean that we can re-evaluate what it is we really want?
Asking ourselves and answering these sorts of questions, perhaps writing down the answers, can give us some distance, some perspective …. some detachment from the negative, oppressive, unhelpful feelings we might have attached to achieving success.