A few weeks ago, I had to speak five times in one day. I knew it would require a lot of me mentally and emotionally. My goal is always to give 110 percent. I want nothing left on the table when I finish.
But, for some reason, I woke up that morning in a funk. I don't know why. It was one of those things I couldn't explain. But I didn't like it and knew I needed to get myself in a better place if I was going to deliver on my goal.
There was a time when I thought I couldn't change my attitude. I viewed myself as the victim of mysterious forces that shaped my emotional state. It never occurred to me that I could shift it—almost instantly.
But as I have learned since, we have more control than we think. Moreover, Tony Robbins taught me how to apply this principle to my emotional state. Without question, it is the single most important life skill I have acquired.
Let me elaborate.
You can instantly shift your attitude by taking the following three actions:
- Shift your mental focus. This is where it starts. I can choose what I think about. For example, I can think, Argh, I have to speak five times today. Or, I can think, Wow, I get to speak five times today. This is so important, that I have literally written down a script that I recite before I speak. This is how I prime the pump:
- I am not here by accident. God sent me. To these people. At exactly this time.
- That's because He has a purpose; therefore, I have a purpose in being here.
- Through Christ, I can do all things. He has given me every resource I need to succeed.
- I have the energy, the passion, and the message to make a huge impact—now and for eternity.
- What I have to share today is vitally important. It matters. To them and to their loved ones.
- Those that hear it will be changed forever. Years from now, they will look back on today and say, “It started here.”
- By God's grace, I am prepared. I am strong. I am energetic. I am outstanding. My heart is wide open. I will connect and make a difference!
- Change your posture. Do you know that every emotion has physical attributes? For example, if I say to you, “act like you are depressed,” you would likely slump your shoulders, tilt your head down, and rub your face. You would frown and your breathing might slow down.
If I say to you, “act like you won the lottery,” you would likely jump up and down, thrust your arms up into the air, and scream with joy. You would smile and your breathing might speed up.
Does the emotion cause the action or does the action cause the emotion? The truth is, it doesn't matter. If you smile, for example, and hold it for several seconds, it will change your biochemistry.
In an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a team of psychologists at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, showed that simply having people put their facial muscles in a configuration typical of a given emotion produced the feeling that the expressions represent. (See this article in the New York Times and this one in Scientific American.)
- Watch your language. Our words are more important than we think. They reflect our thinking. But they sometimes influence our thinking as well.
Words have tremendous power. King Solomon reminds us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).
But rarely do we apply these words to the language we use in talking to ourselves. For example, you ask someone, “How are you doing?” They respond, “Well, I'm surviving.” Strangely, those words shape their reality—or at least their perception of it. They end up barely getting by.
Conversely, I have another friend who always replies, “Outstanding!” This too shapes his reality. He always seems to be doing well. I know he has challenges, but his words empower him and give him the resources he needs to overcome them.
Honestly, this formula works for me every time—almost like a recipe. If I am deliberate about taking these three actions, my emotional state shifts.
The good news is that this puts me—and you—in control. And often this spells the difference between success and failure.
Have your doubts? Take the seven day challenge. Try this for seven days and see if it doesn't make a difference. Report back with your results. I'd love to hear.
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