“Sometimes I wish that I could go into a time machine right now and just look at myself and say, ‘Calm down. Things are gonna be fine. Things are gonna be all great. Just relax.’ “
“Keep Calm and Carry On” was a slogan that the British used during World War II. You’ve probably seen it and funny variations of it on t-shirts and coffee mugs. But 75-80 years ago, it was a serious message to the British people meant to inspire them to stay calm in the event of a large-scale attack or occupation by Nazi forces.
There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world right now. And for my money, “Keep Calm and Carry On” is still pretty good advice. The energy of panic doesn’t lead to good decisions or positive action. Neurologically, panic gives you tunnel vision and actually inhibits your ability to hear. You feel your heart beating faster and your muscles tensing as they prepare to fight or flee. Adrenaline hypes you up as it flows into your body. Your breathing gets faster and you may feel your mouth going dry. Emotionally, you’re typically bouncing back and forth between anger and fear.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never done my best thinking or taken the best action in that state.
Everyone from military people, law enforcement officers and kindergarten teachers know that staying calm is the most effective place to be when everything hits the fan. Steven Segal, a lifelong martial artist says, “I’m trained to remain calm in the face of adversity and danger.” And leadership coach Simon Sinek would add, “Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily assess the situation and see the options.” Even LL Cool J advises, “When adversity strikes, that’s when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on.”
Okay, so calm is cool. But how do we get there?
1.Watch What You’re Watching: Sometime during the 1800’s, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Stand guard at the portals of your mind.” He didn’t have access to the internet or 24-hour news stations blaring at him back then. Yet even he realized that you need to monitor what enters your brain.
You wouldn’t let mean nasty kids come over to play with your children. You don’t invite obnoxious, crazy people (family excepted) to Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t intentionally bring bags of stinky, toxic garbage into your home. Yet too often, we let mean, nasty, obnoxious, crazy, stinky, toxic “news” from the outside into our brains.
I’m not advocating that you put your head in the sand and avoid what’s going on. I am saying that you may need to cut back on how much you engage with things that you really have no control over. I’m saying you may need to vet the sources of that “news.” I’m saying that your mind is a precious resource and you shouldn’t feed it a constant diet of junk food!
2.Question Your Perspective: If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you know I often explain that “perception is interpretation,” meaning that whatever you see is a reflection of your internal (sometimes unconscious) beliefs. Wars, conflict, crazy politics—that all exists. But how you see, or interperet them and the conclusions you draw from them are totally your own. Someone else seeing that exact same situation will have a different take on it.
Deepak Chopra recently wrote an article which basically said that the outrageous behavior in the current political arena is actually a reflection of our collective Shadow rising up. He wrote of a certain politician, “Instead of demonizing him, acknowledge that the shadow is in everyone and always has been. At the same time, realize that the shadow never wins in the end.”
Deepak Chopra’s perspective may not be yours but you’ve got to admit, it’s pretty calming. If your perspective has you grinding your teeth and yelling at the television, you might want to find a different one.
3.Know Who You Are: Uncle George always taught me that the first thing you need to know is who you are, what you are meant to do, who you are meant to become. When you have that as your foundation, life gets a lot simpler.
I know that I am a teacher. I am here to empower people to become who they are meant to be through the Neuro-Linguistic programming and Huna I teach. I am here to continually expand my own knowledge and consciousness so that my teaching is as deep and effective as it can be. I am here to run my company well and write books and articles so that we can continue to offer what we have to as many people as possible.
I’m not the guy who should run for public office or go to a war-torn country to save refugees. I’m not the person who is meant to stop poachers from slaughtering elephants or the one who will find a cure for cancer. I can contribute to those things, but that’s not my purpose.
If you don’t know who you’re meant to be and what you’re meant to do, you can feel scattered, helpless, ineffectual, even guilty. With every new crisis or problem, you run around wondering, “What am I supposed to do about that? How can I fix it?” But when you take the time to realize who you are truly meant to be and what you are really meant to do, you feel empowered, not helpless. You know exactly what is yours and what isn’t. You are calm because you know the kind of contribution you are here to make.
Here’s part of a poem Rudyard Kipling wrote called “If”
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating . . .
If you can do all of those things, you are empowered!
Until next time!