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5 Proven Unconventional Strategies To Make Your Mind Peaceful Again

5 Proven Unconventional Strategies To Make Your Mind Peaceful Again

Think of a time where you felt overwhelmed. I’m sure it wasn’t long ago. Maybe it was while you were at work and your boss started to rip on you for messing up a project . . . Or maybe worry started to creep and snowballed while you were at home making dinner for the family.

Regardless of where or when it takes place, losing your peace of mind and venturing deeper into anxiety causes the same physiological response: activation of the fight or flight response.

Your eyes dilate and you become more agitated. As you become more agitated, your heart beats faster and your breathing increases. Your mind and your body are being ”revved out” to the max as if there was an external threat.

Eventually if you cannot return to a peaceful state, you will crash into burnt out state.

So how do we avoid this? Should we follow the same tired old advice that is copy and pasted all over the internet like:

  • Just turn your mind off and relax!
  • Think positive?
  • “Just be?”

If we could actually do all of the above we would be Zen and peaceful all the time. The truth is this advice is vague and misleading. There is no such thing as turning your mind off while being alive.  You think all the time, even when you are asleep you are still thinking!  And even when we are not consciously aware of our thinking, our subconscious mind is busy thinking by processing information.

Think positive?  How do we actually do that? Should we jump up in the air and shout hurray? Maybe, but the techniques below to think positive are much more effective.

Just be?  Have you ever asked someone what was wrong and they said “NOTHING” in a problematic tone?  You knew they were pissed off and trying to hide it.  If you keep asking them what’s wrong they just might blow a head gasket.

Research indicates that trying to suppress negative thoughts is far more likely to increase misery than create a clear mind. In the 1980’s, Harvard psychologist Daniel Wegner conducted an experiment proposing students NOT to think about a white Polar Bear by suppressing the thought. Everyone was then asked to ring a bell every time the white bear came to mind. The result of the experiment? Daniel Wagner thought the cows were coming home because the bells never stopped ringing!

Attempting to suppress certain thoughts makes people obsess even more on the very topic they are trying to avoid.

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So if most conventional tips don’t work, what does? Here are 5 strategies you can implement today to keep your peace of mind.

1.  Write Your Heart Out 

If we had a nickel for every time we worried we’d be rich. All of us experience chaos, setbacks, hardships, life problems and anxiety. Perhaps you just went through a long term breakup, are experiencing conflict at work or are in danger of losing your job or maybe all three!

In the book The Writing Cure studies indicate that expressive writing resulted in a remarkable boost in psychological and physical well-being, including a reduction in health problems and an increase in self esteem and happiness.

Common sense and habit lead us to try and share our pain with others by talking it out with a buddy. This does have some effect, but not nearly as much as expressive writing, especially in the long term.

Why does expressive writing work as opposed to sharing your pain with others?  

The brain functions very differently to produce thoughts, speech and writing.  Thinking is the most unstructured and chaotic followed by speaking and then writing. While thinking, your thoughts jump all over the place, from one topic to another topic without much connection. Speaking is more logically connected and writing is the most structured and takes the most work. . . trust me. I’m struggling right now to write this article.

While I’m writing, my brain is working hard to string together letters into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into ideas!  Because of the reasoning, logic and more concrete structure, we are forced to think and make sense of what happened.

This structured sequence of logic and reasoning will help you solve your problems in addition to expressing your feelings in a way that makes sense.

The whole process of writing brings a tremendous peace of mind.

So if life gives you lemons and you want lemonade, reflect on it. Spend a few minutes each day writing a diary type account of you deepest thoughts and feelings about it.

2.  Name that state 

Like I said earlier, suppressing emotion causes more problems than good. The opposite of suppressing emotion is to acknowledge it and let it out. I don’t mean letting it out in a destructive smashing pumpkins kind of way, I mean letting it out by calling attention to it.

One way to let out an emotion is to cry but, most of us don’t have that option. Another way is to use just a few words to describe an emotion.

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An example would be saying to yourself out-loud, “I feel anxiety creeping in,” or “ All this new information is overwhelming.” Try to use simple terms and not to over elaborate. Opening up a full dialogue about an emotion will increase it, making it worse. The trick is to catch yourself during the onset and label it before you are consumed by its intensity.

Oddly enough people that were surveyed predicted that labeling emotions would make their emotions worse.  In 2005 Neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman, Associate Professor of cognitive neuroscience at UCLA proved with FMRI brain scans that labeling arising emotions significantly reduces activity in the brain associated with fear called the amygdala.

3. Tear it down and RE-FRAME it

If your emotional state has drifted too far past the point for labeling to work, re-framing will work. Re-framing has a stronger calming effect to bring you peace of mind but it takes more brainpower.

I’m sure you’ve heard of aphorisms like, “there’s a silver lining in every dark cloud” or “turning lemons into lemonade.” These are all examples of re-framing.

Reframing is essentially controlling your interpretation of the meaning of the situation.

Our emotional responses flow out of our interpretations of the world, if we can shift those interpretations, we can shift our emotional responses.

Here are a few techniques

4. Normalizing

Suppose you were having a routine vaccination done at the hospital. As you sit down, the doctor pulls out a needle and injects the upper part of your leg without saying anything. He then quickly leaves the room without saying a word but laughs.

After a minute, your leg starts tingling and loses feeling.

At this point you are probably in FULL panic mode!

Now suppose the same thing happened, but the doctor told you exactly what was going to happen. Suppose he said, “after I inject you it’s NORMAL for it to start tingling and lose feeling for about 30 seconds.”

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Not as bad, ehhh?  That’s because it is normal and you know what to expect. This kind of re-framing is called normalizing.

Here are some facts to make a few things seem normal:

It’s normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed the first time you start a new task, job or endeavor.

It’s normal to fail at something over and over until you achieve your final goal.

It’s normal to feel embarrassed when you make mistakes at work.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and challenged when raising children.

It’s normal to procrastinate by surfing the internet and reading articles like these.

Find out if what you are going through is normal.

Just knowing that it is normal is proven to bring you peace of mind.

5.  Time Frame

Just like you, I rush in the morning to get out the door by a certain time to make it work. Sometimes I take a little too long to eat breakfast and I end up in a mad dash to try and get to work on time. Sometimes in this mad dash I literally run around the house and I’ll do things like skip packing lunch and brush my teeth real quick just to save 2.333 minutes.

It seems trivial now, because the time frame is completely different. The fact that I have to be at work within a certain time makes 2.33 minutes seem like an eternity, but within a day or week it’s trivial.

Think about this and slow down next time you feel panicked because of time.

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Expanding the time frame you view your problem in will bring you peace of mind.

An experience can be viewed as “terrible” within the time frame of a week, but within the time frame of a few years or a lifetime, the event will seem trivial.

”Why am I rushing?  I have plenty of time to brush my teeth and pack my lunch, 5 extra minutes is nothing over the course of the day.”

“In a week from now I won’t even remember this, and neither will anyone else, why am I so worried?”

“I will be working for the rest of my life until I’m 65, what’s wrong with taking a sick day to spend more time with my kids, maybe I should take a year off?”

”I’m going to spend the extra time to do it right because it will pay off in the long run!”

If you don’t use it you lose it

So there you have it, a few unconventional strategies that will bring you peace of mind. Of course these strategies will not help if you just skimmed over the article and “keep that in mind.” You have to apply it, over and over again until it become ingrained in you. My suggestion is to take just one and apply it throughout the day for a week or two, then another one the week after.

There are plenty more, enough for a part 2 and maybe a part 3 so stay in touch, but for now, less is more. Implement what you know and make it a part of you!

To sum it up.

  • Name that state:  Call attention to your emotions as soon as they start to arise to express it.
  • Write your heart out:  Write a detailed account of what happened and what you will do to solve it.
  • Control your interpretation of the events (Re-frame)
  • Normalize it: Is that normal?
  • Time frame: What time frame are you referring to?

Featured photo credit: Girl Feeling Free / Photo by: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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