News is streaming in 24/7 from every media source imaginable, and very little of it is positive. Couple this with the “negativity bias” inherent in human nature and this COVID-19 crisis is like strong winds blowing on a wildfire.
However, the human mind is an amazing thing. If we take the initiative, we can program it to function in a manner that will enable us to better navigate these troubled waters. We are the only species on the planet with this ability.
Just prior to this pandemic, I was conducting a workshop to a group of advisors when one pulled me aside and said with tears in his eyes: “You saved my career. I heard you some 30 years ago and kept all your Winning the Inner Game of Selling material. Ten years ago my wife was diagnosed with cancer; she’s fine now, but my life and business fell apart. It was through re-engaging your Winning the Inner Game materials that pulled me through.”
You can imagine how I was moved. I was reminded of the importance of this inner game of life—all of this only one week before the travel ban. It was that heartfelt conversation that prompted me to write this article.
There is no one magic formula but rather a number of undeniable truths that each one of us can apply. The first two Mind Power Tips are basic and can be implemented immediately, while the remaining will require a bit of time and attention in order to develop them into a personal habit.
1. Limit news time—It’s important to limit the time you spend each day following the news feeds, whether it’s on your phone, workstation or simply watching the news. This has more of an impact on our thinking than most people realize. You have to stay current on what’s happening right now, but the law of diminishing returns applies.
2. Avoid Chicken Little (negative people)—For some people, the glass is always half empty. We all know who they are. They are people who are carrying that dark cloud of “doom and gloom” around with them wherever they go, telling anyone who’ll listen that the proverbial “sky is falling.” It’s important to remember that fear and panic are the most highly contagious forms of negativity. Recognize and avoid these people as much as possible.
3. Focus on what you can control—Epictetus, a stoic Roman philosopher born in 55 A.D., dedicated his life to outlining the path to happiness in 93 simple instructions, which are summarized in his book, The Art of Living. His No. 1 piece of advice was being able to focus on what you can control. This is easier said than done, but recognition is half of recovery. By simply identifying what you can control, and then working to control it, and letting go of what’s out of your control, you will find yourself in a better mental state.
4. Use positive affirmations—Our mind is programmed by our thoughts, and the thoughts that we repeat and dwell on determine the programming of our mind. This has been referred to as either the positive or negative programming cycle. I refer to this as the tapes that are playing in our subconscious mind.
Taking proactive control of these tapes requires action on an emotional level. Nothing is more powerful to you than your own voice (even if most people don’t like how it sounds). Listening to your voice recite repeated personal statements that are worded as affirmations will enable you to program and control these tapes.
What is an affirmation? It’s simply a statement that is worded in the first person that is present tense and positive to yourself about yourself. For instance, if you’re feeling stressed, “I am relaxed and confident” is a positive affirmation, but “I want to reduce my stress” is not as it serves to remind your subconscious that you, in fact, are stressed. The reality is that the subconscious mind functions like a computer, it accepts whatever is programmed, fact or fiction, positive or negative, which means that your affirmations can be a positive lie. You’re not really relaxed and confident, but your self-talk (affirmation) is telling you that YES you are. When affirmations are carefully crafted and repeated, the positive programming cycle begins to take form.
This is best achieved by making your personal affirmation recording, which I refer to as your personal programming or 7-7-7 recording. It involves writing out seven affirmations and then recording each one seven consecutive times (repeated seven times), with a seven-second pause between each repetition. The seven seconds between every affirmation enables our subconscious mind to formulate the image of our affirmation without any conscious thinking.
This is one of the inner game tools the aforementioned advisor used to help him deal with his wife’s life-and-death battle with cancer while dealing with the challenges of keeping his business up and running.
For those doubters out there, read Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics or Denis Waitey’s The Subliminal Winner. For you fellow sports enthusiasts, all great athletes understand the importance of positive affirmations, as well as Mind Power Tip No. 5.
5. Visualize your success—The visual imagery that you’re activating by listening to your 7-7-7 affirmation recording takes on a new dimension when it’s done intentionally in a quiet setting and in a relaxed state. Whether it’s an Olympic athlete visualizing competing, winning and standing on the podium holding her gold medal or you visualizing your upcoming day, winning and then living your long-range goals, this intentional form of visual imagery is an extremely powerful success tool. Alas, outside of top athletes, few people use it.
All it takes is 10 to 15 minutes of quiet time three to five days a week. Here’s how to get started.
- Sit in a straight-backed chair with feet flat on the floor and hands on your lap—or—lie on a yoga mat with your arms by your side. The objective is to relax your body with your mind, not the chair, bed, etc.
- Take a couple of full deep breaths.
- Relax your body starting with your feet and working your way up to your face and head.
- Create a peaceful image scene. This is your personal spot—looking at beach waves, a gurgling river, lying in a hammock.
- Visualize yourself just as you’d ideally like to be going through your upcoming day. You’re a high achiever, communicating with clients, and getting introduced to their friends.
As I’ve mentioned, these are the same techniques Olympic athletes use to “see themselves through” their best performances.
Not only will these five Mind Power Tips help you through this pandemic, make them a habit and they will change your life. We have tools on our new Oechsli.com/volatility website that will help you with Mind Power Tips 4 and 5.
Matt Oechsli is author of How to Build a 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing, and Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com