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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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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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