Flexibility… no not that kind of flexibility!

If you wanted to learn more about muscular flexibility then you clicked on the wrong post. This has nothing to do with that and everything to do with mental flexibility. This is all about your self-awareness. Have you ever thought of being flexible mentally? Have you thought about self-awareness? Think about a time when you’ve been so angry that nothing will calm you down. Another example could be you trying to plan every little detail of your day or your week. Think about that type-A person that you work with or maybe it’s you who is the control freak. It takes one to know one that’s for sure. There’s nothing more frustrating than planning your day out perfectly and then something happens to blow up your plans. Has that happened to you? I’m sure it has because it happens to me on a regular basis. I’m not talking about choosing not to workout or choosing not to do an item on your to-do list. That’s a choice. We’re talking about something different.

This is some external event that happens to you that you have no control over. For example, you have a work presentation that you’ve been working on and it’s the day you need to present it. That morning your son falls on the playground and the next thing you know you’re on your way to the hospital. That can have a jarring effect on your psyche so much so that it could ruin your day. As it should! Most of us know how we would handle that situation. Fortunately for most of us, those type of emotional jarring events do not happen often.  Let’s talk about the smaller moments that can really throw us control freaks off our game. These little moments could be as small as hitting every stop light on the way into work when you know you’re already running late. Another example could be the battle I have writing these posts while having a young child and dogs run circles around the house. These are the moments in life that we need to have mental flexibility.

These events can even affect those that are not type-A or a control freak. Think back to a time when something didn’t go your way. Can you remember it? How did you react when you didn’t get your way? Think about it. If it didn’t ruin your day then you already get it. You already have mental flexibility. You’re already self-aware. Not many people are that aware of their emotional mindset to be able to recognize it and then change it. That’s the hard part. How can you recognize it and then switch to a more rational state of mind? I’ve already addressed one way which is meditating but that’s not for everyone. You need to be able to be in the moment and be aware of your thoughts. This can be incredibly difficult when you are seeing “red”, as I like to refer to it or you may know this feeling simply as being frustrated.

Frustrated is a slight level below being angry, for me at least. We all know frustration is one of the main precursors to being angry. Can you think of the physical feelings you have when you’re mad? Think about it. Do your palms get sweaty? Does your heart start to race? If you think about it hard enough some of those physiological symptoms may have just hit you. Why is this important? If you can notice these symptoms before they take you over then you can have control over your emotions. Then you’ll be able to notice the situations which cause those physiological symptoms. This new self-awareness will allow you to control your emotions. Self-awareness is the main building block on which you can build mental flexibility. It’s the way you learn yourself. If you do not have that self-awareness then you will not be able to practice mental flexibility.

I know you’re telling yourself it’s not that easy and you’re correct. There’s one more step to recognizing those physiological symptoms. There’s a great way to develop self-awareness, wait for it, meditation. You knew that already didn’t you! I know it’s impossible to find time to meditate, especially in the moment when you’re seeing “red”. So, what should you do in that moment? It’s not what you should do but what I challenge you to do is focus on your breath. Whats changed my self-awareness is a breathing method where you breath in for a four count and exhale for an eight count. Do five cycles of that and see how your mentality has changed. I don’t guarantee much but I guarantee that by breathing like this you will develop better self-awareness. Don’t get me wrong, the breathing technique may not actually make you less mad or less anxious but it will clear your mind. It will allow you to see why you’re angry. It will allow you to understand those feelings. Remember what I wrote in the last paragraph. To develop self-awareness you need to recognize the physiological symptoms first. Focusing on the breath will do just that. Take me up on my challenge. Challenge yourself to build better self-awareness and see how your life changes. Do it today. Don’t wait until tomorrow. You’ll thank me later!

 

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