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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

20 Life Coping Skills That Will Help You Stay Strong

20 Life Coping Skills That Will Help You Stay Strong

Few things in life are guaranteed, although I can be quite certain when I say:

Someone is going to really annoy you. Someone is going to die and leave you feeling empty and unable to go on. Something out of the blue is going to challenge you to the core of your humanity. Something is going to breakdown and stop working at the most inopportune moment you could imagine. You are going to spend money on something you really don’t want to. You are going to be forced to do something you never thought you’d do. You are going to face a challenge that feels completely soul destroying…

How can you know these things, Mandie?

I hear you ask.

Well because as my dear Nan used to say “In every life, a little rain must fall.” Looking back as I watched Nan cook a meal worthy of gods or any childhood dream sequence I know I used to struggle with what that saying meant.

Of course some rain must fall, we would die without water, I used to think.

However on the other side of childhood where bills, maintenance, insurance and other boring things exist, I’m pretty sure I get the true meaning of that saying.

The intriguing thing is that I’m a keen reader and find that so much in personal and professional development and in the pursuit of happiness is aimed at ensuring we don’t just have wellies, brollies and waterproofs, to protect us from the rain in life, but that we are so far removed from any wet stuff we can’t appreciate the damage that this polar opposite can also have on our positive existence.

I want to share with you some of the top coping skills for life that aren’t just good for the rainy days, they can have a serious impact on your life.

Into every life, some tough times appear, it is not the tough times that define us, it’s how we deal with them that does.

All very well having great sentiments like that; however when your car has broken down, you feel ill and can’t stop because deadlines are looming, your cat’s puked in your shoes, your phone won’t hold a charge, and they are making people redundant at work it can be hard to have the a positive “Can do” attitude.

Let’s look at what to do (And I promise to make these ideas easy to action, life changing if applied, fast and reliable. Promise):

1. Find out the Real Cause of the Problem

    I’m a keen believer that if you can’t see what’s going on, I mean really see, then you can’t fix it. I’m often coaching a client who will walk in telling me that X is the issue when 20 minutes later we’ve delved into their minds and discovered that X was just a symptom of the problem.

    And as you probably know treating symptoms and not the actual problem rarely works. The real issue is left to carry on wrecking your health, happiness and mental well being.

    How does this apply in stressful situations? Have you ever had a friend that was pregnant, or you lost or gained weight, or realized that you were “suddenly” in this really bad habit of walking in the door at night and instantly grabbing a cold beverage?

    That didn’t just start, over time that gradually became more prominent. And when things sneak into our lives, be a beautiful baby bump or an unwanted 10lb, it didn’t just land on you overnight.

    2. Ask Yourself the Difficult Questions

      So to find out how you are coping with stressful situations, ask yourself some questions:

      • How do I feel right now on a scale of 1 to 10? (10 being awesome and 1 being awful)
      • Is there a pattern to the way I feel caused by my environment?
      • Is there a pattern to the way I feel caused by my beliefs?
      • Is there a pattern to the way I feel caused by my work?

      Take the time to process your response to these 4 questions. They could become powerful in every aspect of your life.

      3. Notice Your Reactions

        When we become aware of our surroundings, our situation and the way they make us feel we need to learn to notice the impact of these things.

        Not to start moaning at ourselves and berating us for being lazy, thick, stupid, sloppy, etc, just to notice. Above is about noticing the patterns we create, and this skill is about noticing how it impacts on you.

        • How does it make you feel?
        • How does it make you act?
        • How does it make you behave?
        • How does it make you think?

        At this stage you don’t have to think, do, say or act any differently just notice what happens in stressful situations.

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        4. Measure and Locate Where You Are Now

          Peter Drucker famously says,[1]

          “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

          Therefore when you start to notice how you feel, act and behave in stressful times and have understood more about the way it impacts on you, you are then in a position to create a benchmark graph.[2]

          5. Be Honest About Your Progress

            In stressful situations, we can find ourselves with our heads down in the proverbial sand, with our hands over our ears yelling “la, la, la, la, la”.

            While as kids, that’s hilarious to watch kids do that, as we grow up it’s a bit of an ice cold slap in the face that not being honest doesn’t fix anything and stops us from changing things. Be honest as you create the above bench mark graph.

            Being honest is a powerful thing. When you’re honest with yourself, you raise self awareness and anyone looking to achieve anything in the 21st century is going to be determined to improve their own self awareness as we are starting to appreciate the power this can have.

            Although Tasha Eurich[3] shares some scary research on this. Tasha Eurich, author of Insight; Why we’ve not as self aware as we think and how seeing ourselves clearly helps us succeed at work and in life says in an interview for Harvard Business Review that “95% of people believe they’re self-aware, however only about 10-15% actually are.” Adding “The joke I always make is that on a good day, 80% of us are lying to ourselves about whether we’re lying to ourselves.”[4]

            6. Be Honest to Your World

              In stressful times, it is not just important to be honest to ourselves, it’s important that you’re honest to those that are in your world. Some find that they can do this in their personal life but wouldn’t dream of saying anything at work; whereas others bottle it all up, with a smile and a lie that says “I’m fine.”

              7. If You Aren’t Fine, Say It

                You don’t have to turn into a moaning black cloud of doom, but being honest helps you and other people.

                Showcasing your own limitations and stress can help other people to see the human that you are. We feel more connected to those that share honestly and are more likely to want to help them and at the very least probably less likely to add more to your work load.

                I worked with someone that was petrified that work would find out how much they were struggling with the work load. This is what the conversation went like (and I’m sharing it so you can ask yourself similar questions):

                Client: “I’m really struggling to hold it together.”

                Me: “Have you told anyone?”

                Client: “I can’t do that, it would be professional suicide. They’d be circling around me ready to pick the bones of my career in seconds.”

                Me: “Do you know that to be true?”

                Client: “It’s not worth the risk to find out.”

                Me: “So if you don’t say something, what are you agreeing to?”

                Client: “Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and about ready to quit.”

                Me: “And are you happy to stay there or would you like to be somewhere else?”

                Client: “Obviously somewhere else, but I can’t see how that’s possible.

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                Me: “Are you prepared to explore where you would like to be and how to get there?”

                You can guess the answer! And using the tools below, guess what they discovered?

                They weren’t alone! It was an issue throughout the department and changes were made for everyone. A bit of honesty can go along way!

                8. Take Actions to Change

                  In stressful situations, the human being is pre-programmed to do everything in its power to escape the situation it finds itself in.

                  Fight or flight doesn’t really do this pre-programming justice. We are still alive because since the dawn of our time we’ve been able to adapt, change and escape situations that other species succumb to.

                  The issue is that we also fear change. I get more speaking engagements and corporate coaching gigs because people are struggling with change than possibly any other subject. The fact is while we can appreciate change can help in stressful situations, knowing and doing is not the same thing.

                  Ask yourself what could I change about this situation? (This is not what am I going to do, this is about making suggestions about what you could do.) And if they are the suggestions that have been rattling around in your head for the last few weeks, or keep you awake at night, they are less likely to be useful.

                  Really get in touch with your subconscious (and the good ideas) by asking:

                  “If money, time, skill, health, magic, beliefs or values weren’t factors in this situation what could I do?”

                  This enables your mind to explore some whacky ideas, however as Einstein (may have said) Creativity is intelligence having fun. And this exercise enables your mind to have some fun.

                  9. Don’t Change What You Can’t Change

                    I worked with a large organization that had been through massive change. Everyone had stepped up to the challenge, but everyone was really stressed. Those that were struggling the most kept reminding me that “it hadn’t always been like this”, and “the old way was a lot easier”.

                    Not all change can be controlled. And when we fight it, we can find ourselves escalating stress. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is learn to go with the flow.

                    If you don’t “choose” to go with the flow, ask yourself:

                    What are you agreeing to?

                    This questions enables you to see that you are going to get negative emotions, actions, conversations, damaged relationships and even health issues.

                    Change is sometimes dumped on us like a storm clouds contents, you could stand and moan at the storm cloud but it won’t stop you from getting wet.

                    10. Ask Yourself: Are You Creating It?

                      Some of life’s stresses are man made. And I’m not talking about someone else, I’m talking about you.

                      It is an ugly fact that none of us want to look at (so be brave) however have the strength to ask “Am I creating this stress?”

                      Remember to be honest. And let the answers come to you.

                      11. Know that Sh*t Happens

                        First spotted in the 60’s, this has been a famous saying since at least the 80’s, why? Because stuff does just happen.

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                        As humans we are always looking for reason and understanding. “Why did this happen to me?” and we can often find ourselves down a rabbit run looking for ghosts of answers that just don’t exist.

                        Sometimes bad stuff happens. This does not define you. This is not a personal vendetta from a god or unseen deity, seriously sometimes all you can do is accept those 2 words – sh*t happens.

                        12. Control Your Mindset

                          A quick way to find yourself suffering an intenser version of stress is when you try to control it.

                          As a coach, I believe we can get out of situations and move forward, however I also know from the coping skill above that when we try to force the universe to bend in a new way, it can use up a lot of energy concentrating on the wrong things.

                          You can control what you think, you can change your actions, and sometimes the most powerful skill is to accept that this is out of your hands. Self awareness will help you understand the differences and what to do and when.

                          13. Say No More Often

                            We talked about the need to be honest and if you explore this coping mechanism further, you will see that as humans we really want to be liked. We want to get on with our neighbours, or colleagues our friend’s friends. The issue with this in stressful times we really do need to turn around and say things like:

                            • No sorry I can’t help you.
                            • No, now is not a good time.
                            • No, I’m not finding this easy.
                            • No, I can’t do it.

                            The reason we don’t say things like this is because we fear what people think of us. We want to be liked. We don’t want people think we don’t care, which leads me onto the next point.

                            14. Embrace Weakness

                              The above statements are often held in our heads unsaid because we don’t want to appear weak, awkward, incapable and a ton of other negatives. The interesting thing is that what we think people are thinking about us is so often untrue.

                              Take the client above that feared telling their boss they were struggling with their work load. On the contrary to looking weak and incapable, the whole department got a makeover. That’s not weak, that’s powerful.

                              Watch out for the incorrect falsehoods that you let hang out in your head. They are making stressful situations a lot harder!

                              The next time it feels weak to be honest or to say no, ask yourself “Does the way I currently think serve me well?”

                              15. Set Clear Boundaries

                                Boundaries are important to us all. It feels great when we get on holiday and we can do what we like when we like, however left like that for more than a few weeks and things can disintegrate and fall apart.

                                We need boundaries. And at stressful times, boundaries can really help. They enable you to feel safe to be honest and work and think in a way that helps you and they set out what you will tolerate and deal with and what you wont.

                                Remember creating boundaries is a lot like saying no and most of the negative thoughts you are having around boundaries are imaginary too. If you aren’t going to answer work email at 10pm on a Saturday night, don’t.

                                Establish your boundaries, communicate them and stick by them.

                                16. Get Passionate About Something

                                  In stressful times, we can find ourselves living in negative, soul destroying emotions and moods. To the point that we can attempt to numb ourselves from them.

                                  The next time the emotions start to impact on you, think about all of the things that you are passionate about.

                                  No one need know what you are thinking about, so if you find yourself thinking about your dog before your partner, that’s fine.

                                  Get yourself a big old list that makes you smile. Even if the smile doesn’t feel real, your brain is still benefiting. When we get really bogged down in stressful times, it can be hard to believe that we will ever feel good again.

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                                  We can’t change everything instantly but interestingly (and I find miraculously), we can change our mindset in the click of a finger. Getting passionate could help you do that.

                                  17. Ask for What You Truly Want

                                    If you need time, a hug, a conversation, a massage, a run, a nap, a walk, a helping hand, ask for it.

                                    Of all the fears in my book Fight the Fear, so many come back to the fear of what other people will think of us and I’ve heard so many people tell me that they’ve learnt to ask for what they want.

                                    Stop fearing asking for what you need. Learn to accept that asking for what you want not only helps you navigate through stressful times, it also helps you to achieve more in life too.

                                    18. Ditch the Guilt

                                      Guilt just loves tough times. It will be able to give you a voice in your head that tells you:

                                      • This is all your fault.
                                      • You never get it right.
                                      • You’ve always failed at this.
                                      • You should have taken better care of that.
                                      • You weren’t good enough to get that job.
                                      • If someone had to go, it had to be you.
                                      • No one sticks around you for long.
                                      • This is you, what were you expecting?

                                      That voice is worse than Cruella Deville, Voldemort and Hannibel Lector combined. It’s intent on destroying your determination and happiness.

                                      Have you noticed how some people go through hell and keep going and others suffer far less and give up? The reason they keep going is not some shot of good fortune, it comes down to the what they let happen in their head. So chuck the guilt.

                                      19. Never Hate Stress

                                        It’s no good hating stressful times, it won’t make them magically disappear.

                                        Stress is an essential component to your body. Without some stress between bones, muscles, skin, etc you would be a floppy mess on the floor.

                                        Stress can help us grow and learn so much about ourselves. What could you discover about you from the stress you face right now?

                                        20. Start Moving

                                          When life feels too tough, we can be tempted to hide our heads under the duvet and say “give me a call in 2050, I will come out when its all over”

                                          Trust me, I include myself in that one.

                                          In my personal life, I’ve seen a lot of awful things this year. Don’t try and be super human, as I read in The Last Highlander, when you face the most horrific of times, just concentrate on getting one foot in front of the other.

                                          Go the Extra Mile

                                          In stressful times we need people around us that will go the extra mile, and I’m one of those.

                                          Watch out for the sappers of positivity and remember the basics – sleep, eat, breathe – get those in the right measures especially when you are struggling, you see as Nan so wisely knew we can’t hide from tough times, we can’t make them magically disappear, however like a storm cloud it will eventually go away.

                                          And behind it is left that fresh new smell that says, “Mmm anything is possible”

                                          And do you know what?

                                          It is.

                                          More Coping Skills to Learn

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] Drucker Institute: About Peter Drucker
                                          [2] Mandie Holgate: Bench Mark Graph
                                          [3] Tasha Eurich: Insight
                                          [4] Harvard Business Review: What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)

                                          More by this author

                                          Mandie Holgate

                                          International Coach, Best Selling Author & Speaker inspiring people around the world to success.

                                          Self Awareness Is Underrated: Why the Conscious Mind Leads to Happiness 20 Life Coping Skills That Will Help You Stay Strong How to Effectively Set Goals in Life to Get Where You Really Want to Be 7 Steps to Turn Your Weaknesses into Strengths How to Access Your Personal Power to Create Success

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                                          Last Updated on January 25, 2021

                                          How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                          How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                          Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

                                          Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

                                          I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

                                          You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                          Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

                                          When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                          I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                          Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                          Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

                                          If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                          Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

                                          1. The Inner Critic

                                          This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

                                          • Other people’s words—many times your parents
                                          • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
                                          • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
                                          • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                          The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

                                          Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                          2. The Worrier

                                          This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

                                          The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

                                          3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

                                          This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                                          This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                          The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

                                          4. The Sleep Depriver

                                          This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                          The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

                                          • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                          • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                          • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
                                          • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                          How can you control these squatters?

                                          How to Master Your Mind

                                          You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                          Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                          There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                          • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                          • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                          This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

                                          The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

                                          Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                          1. For the Inner Critic

                                          When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

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                                          You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                          For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

                                          You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

                                          “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                          If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

                                          This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                          • They rile up the Worrier.
                                          • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                          • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                          • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                          • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

                                          Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                          Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                          2. For the Worrier

                                          Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                          Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

                                          You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                          • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                          • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                          • Muscles tense

                                          Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                          If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                          Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                          “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                          Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

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                                          If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                                          Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

                                          Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                                          For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                          “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

                                          Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                          Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                          “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                          Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                          3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                          Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                          The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

                                          I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                          Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                          Breathe in through your nose:

                                          • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                          • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                          • Focus on your belly rising.

                                          Breathe out through your nose:

                                          • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                          • Focus on your belly falling.
                                          • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                          Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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                                          One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                                          Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                          4. For the Sleep Depriver

                                          (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                          I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                          Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                          1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                          2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                          When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

                                          From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                          For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                          If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                          You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                          • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
                                          • Shut down your thinking
                                          • Calm your feelings
                                          • Simply focus on the present moment

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

                                          You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                          Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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