This post is adapted from a speech I gave at Austin Project Management Toastmasters. It’s a whimsical look at a serious topic: how to gain better control over your mental & emotional landscape so you can communicate better in any situation.
Have you ever been swept up by emotions in the heat of the moment and communicated badly? Have you ever found it difficult to articulate your thoughts or vision because you felt angry, nervous, stressed out or tired? Wouldn’t life be so much better if we could achieve Jedi-like inner calm? What if we could be sure that regardless of the stress in a situation, we would always be able to express ourselves clearly and fully, without our message being clouded by negative emotion?
Governing your mind is possible, because your will is extremely powerful. You may not be able to lift heavy things using only your thoughts, but you can gain Jedi-like powers over your mental state. If you employ the techniques I am going to talk about, it will have positive effects on your career, your public speaking, your personal relationships, and even your health.
Let’s dig into the Jedi Mind Tricks:
1. AWARENESS AND ACCEPTANCE
The 1st Jedi mind technique is this: you need to develop awareness and acceptance for what you are feeling in any given moment. By that I mean: don’t try to deny your negative feelings or try to force them down. The Force doesn’t work that way, and trying to do that leads to the Dark Side. When you are in a stressful situation, it is best to check in with yourself, notice how you are feeling, and realize that whatever you are feeling is okay. That’s what I mean by awareness and acceptance.
Being aware and accepting of negative thoughts is not the same as dwelling on them, and that leads me to the 2nd technique…
2. CHANGE THE CHANNEL
Have you ever been watching a scary movie on TV and after a few minutes you decided, “Ew, I don’t want to watch this.” And what do you do in that situation? You change the channel! You tune into something else. You can do the same with your mental state. If you keep having the same obsessive negative thoughts over and over again, like “no matter what I do, I’ll never be good enough,” that’s the ideal time to change the channel. When you are really anxious about uncertainty in your life – change the channel. When someone wrongs you, instead of continuing to seethe in anger – change the channel. Recognize and accept your feelings, and then change the channel.
Once you’ve learned to do that, what kind things you can to tune into instead? That leads into to the next one…
You don’t have to be a mystic or a holy person to use it. You don’t have to meditate for long periods of time for it to be effective. The effort alone creates the results. In 2001, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that just 10 minutes of meditation is enough to decrease depression and anxiety, and increase alpha waves — those are the brain waves associated with relaxation. Ten minutes!
Another Jedi technique you can use is visualization. Whereas meditation is like emptying your mind, visualization is like playing a mind movie of whatever you desire to have happen. Elite athletes use this technique a lot, because it’s so effective. The key is to make your mind movie highly detailed and specific, and then repeat it often. Try using it the next time you are nervous before a speech. Imagine yourself giving a great speech, smiling and projecting self-confidence and your audience loving your speech and applauding at the end. It really works. If you use visualization every day, you will manifest what you are visualizing. How’s that for a Jedi mind trick?
5. USING YOUR BODY
The 5thtechnique is using your body. For some reason, getting in touch with our bodies and moving around helps us deal with negative mental states.
I find it really helpful to work out or go for a walk when I am feeling really wound up about something. Another way of using your body is paying close attention to your physical posture. Standing with a good, strong, posture actually helps you feel more confident. Whenever you are giving a speech or presentation, think of standing up tall and taking up more space.
The 6th technique for creating a calm, Jedi-like mindset is compassion – for others and yourself. Compassion for others has actually been shown to increase happiness, and without compassion for yourself it is hard to truly learn from your mistakes and move forward. Instead of engaging in negative self-talk, like, “that was so stupid, I can’t believe I did that,” you can learn to say, “well, you gave it your best shot. You’ll do better next time.” Treat yourself with the same compassion you would a dear friend.
7. ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
The 7th and final technique is cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Even when your mental state is lousy, you will feel better if you try to focus on things you feel thankful about. If life is really rough and you can’t think of things to be thankful for in the moment, you can recall things from the past. Every time that you do this it will shift your emotional landscape just a little bit.
So now you know the Jedi secrets of improving negative mental states. If you use these 7 techniques, you will overcome negative feelings that would have bogged you down in the past. You will be able to communicate more freely and you will feel less stressed out. Ultimately it will change your life.