Our mind is incredibly complex yet very simple. What we think about and focus on manifests itself in many ways. Where ones’ focus goes is where their feelings and emotions follow. This happens both in a positive and a negative way. Our focus impacts our physiological state and even impacts our health. Think about when you are on top of the world and can take on anything, then days later you cannot even get out of bed. Our emotions are directly correlated to what we think and focus on. Take for example Olympic Gold Medal Extraordinaire, Michael Phelps. Every time Michael Phelps wakes up and goes to bed he visualizes the perfects stroke: from the starting blocks, to entering the pool, competing, winning, and standing on the platform with a medal around his neck. His focus is on feelings of success, hard work, and execution. Conversely, when something goes wrong at home or work, we focus on those events negatively which produces stress, anxiety, and a feeling of uncertainty.
So what do we do? How to do we focus on something good when we are triggered or experiencing something negative or disempowering? An anchor is a great tool to use when your negative emotion is getting the best of you. Anchoring refers to the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger so that the response may be quickly, and sometimes covertly, re-accessed. Think of something that made you really happy, was fun, or some other successful endeavor that created a good emotion. Now imagine being able to access a thought or sentiment that will make you feel better no matter the circumstances. The American Flag is an example of an anchor. It elicits feelings of patriotism. Certain songs are anchors, especially if they are associated with a fun event. For example, every time I here “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey it brings be back to a great fun evening singing Karaoke with my co-workers. When I hear that song, I am immediately brought to that night, so If things are difficult and I am having a rough day, I play that song and I am able to access that moment or emotion that brought fun and joy!
We all have negative emotions and thoughts when things are not going well. We are human after all. All we can do is choose how we react to those emotions. I want you think about something great or happy that you experienced. Whether that would be with your family or loved ones, attending a concert, walking on a beach, hiking the mountains, or driving with top down. You get the picture. Now focus on that specific event, time or emotion. Focus on what that emotion felt like, what it sounded like, what it looked like, and even what it smelled like. If it’s the beach for example recall the smell of the salty air. Spend time thinking of that moment, just focusing on that time. Accessing those events is always available to us, even though we tend to forget the positives when we are experiencing difficulties.
We have all the resources to change our emotion or physiological state by what we focus on. We all have good things that we can be grateful for. Accessing those thoughts and emotions of the great times we experience will help when we enter those challenging times and emotions. The next time things are not going well, take a couple of deep breaths, close your eyes and think about and visualize those great times in your life. You are in control of how you react and what you think! No one else is!