How to create triggers with your body to control your state of mind.

(photo: rosiehardy)

Like Pavlov’s dogs, we can condition ourselves to react to certain stimuli in an automatic way that bypasses thought and goes straight to action.

There are other ways to control our minds too. First, we talked about images and memories. The next form of mind control is conditioning and the use of our body.

Power is the ability to act, and I mean act. If you want to be energized, you can act as if you are energized. Stand up strong and tall as if you were on stage playing the role of an energized prizefighter. Perhaps you wanted to be Rocky, from the film; how would you stand, breathe, and move?

How about if you were just happy or joyous or confident? Pretending is a powerful tool for changing our states. Fake it until you make it. Because internal representations and our physiology are linked, so that if you change one, you change the other. Mind and body are one.

If you wish to control your emotions, you can do so by controlling your physiology. You can’t change one without the other. In the martial arts we have the stances and postures. If emotion were a martial art, we might have the following stances: the depressed stance, the angry stance, and the bored stance. These stances could be used in combat, but only if we wanted to lose. Other stances would be our courageous stance, calm stance, and confident stance. In the martial arts you may very well find many stances that resemble the positive actions, but how often do you find the stances based on the negative view?

You don’t just become depressed; it takes work. You have to get into the correct stance. If you’re not in the depressed stance, you’re not going to be able to get the most out of feeling depressed. If your mental theater is playing a larger-than-life depressed film, your body is going to try to change its physiology to match that of the mental image – larger-than-life depression. This process works both ways.

Matching your socks

Remember, it is important to be congruent. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You will adjust to one mental state or the other, but not both. If you are bored and the fridge is empty you might want to try to be depressed and so you slump your shoulders, but if you are staring up at the sky (visual) wondering what that fly is doing up there, it’s not going to work. The same thing holds true for trying to be energized: if your body is upright, your military chest is out, eyes are ready for action; but if you are looking at the ground (kinesthetic) and your face says, “help me,” it’s not going to work.

The next time you get in a negative state of mind you can regain control by looking up at the roof and laughing and thinking of something funny. If you are afraid to laugh in public, point at an airplane, cloud, or ceiling fan. You might say, “No, I want to be depressed, so I won’t lift my head.” Then you come to the realization that it’s you who really controls your mind, not the circumstances around you. It is your choice to look up or to look down.

The next time you feel a lack of confidence creeping up, you can quickly change your body’s stance to prove otherwise. This can be used prior to approaching a member of the opposite sex, gaining the courage to stand up to your boss, or simply helping you achieve faster results on your road to achieving a black belt in what you do.

If a gentleman, let’s call him Billy, is walking down the street carrying flowers on the way to his girlfriend’s house and is confronted by a street thug who has plans to aggressively assault him, what can he do to assist in dealing with this situation? If he has flowers and is going to his girlfriend’s house, what kind of state do you think he is in? Most likely a happy, non-threatening mind-set. Is he going to be able to defend himself in this joyous state? I don’t think so. This passive stance of the mind will not provide the right NRG for the challenge. What kind of state does he need to be in? A confident and courageous state of mind he has been in before. By tapping into a previous memory, he would have the right NRG to deal with his challenge. Imagine if you had a secret power, a hidden energy source stored away deep inside of you waiting to be released at any moment.

Think of NRG as having a variety of NRG drinks. They are like secret potions which give you the power you need when you need it; an NRG drink which gives you instant confidence and courage. With the power of the following strategies you will have the skills to create your own NRG drink that can be stored internally and accessed in an instant. Similar to Popeye the Sailor Man. He always carries that can of spinach with him everywhere he goes. When he meets a challenge or needs to defeat the Bully Brutus he has his spinach ready at hand to give him the power to act. The only difference is that we are making this powerful NRG drink an internal part of your being, able to be released with the push of a mental button. Much better than lugging around cans of spinach!

Because NRG is instant and based on our internal wiring, we need to understand how it is possible for us to create this hidden power.

Billy, our man walking down the street, happens to be a martial artist. So what’s the fastest way for him to get into the state he needs to be in? It’s not “eat the flowers.” First, let’s learn about anchors.

Anchors Away

An anchor is formed when we create a stimulus-response situation much like Ivan Pavlov created with his dogs. Have you heard of Ivan Pavlov? If you haven’t, it sounds like a storybook for children, “Ivan Pavlov and his Dogs.” Actually, it is in reference to a scientific study by scientist Ivan Pavlov. Ivan would put some tasty food on one side of a door with the dogs on the other side. The dogs would smell the food and start to salivate. When they began to salivate, Ivan would ring a bell. He did this enough times that he created an anchor between the bell and salivating. All he would have to do is ring the bell, and the dogs would begin to salivate even when the food wasn’t present. He conditioned the dogs to respond to the bell as if they smelled the food.

Do dogs eat bells? Not unless they are made out of meat. So why are they salivating at the sound of “ding?” Because their minds don’t know the difference. They were programmed to link the bells with the food, which in turn triggered the stimulus-response of salivation. We all have bells in our lives; some of us might have a bell that gets us to crave chocolate or ice cream. A bell might make you cry or feel depressed. Why? Because you have been conditioned to react a certain way when the bell rings.

Anchors can be positive or negative. This is why creating Neuro-Reasons for Growth is so important and critical to avoid creating very powerful negative anchors.

So how can we condition ourselves for achievement? You have to ring your own bells. When you feel great, make a fist, and sooner or later just making the fist will make you feel great.

Since dealing with fear is most often a lack of confidence, we will want to have our NRG focused on supplying confidence. Making a fist is a physical movement, and if you made a fist in the past when you were feeling extremely confident you will be able to bring back that power when making a fist in the future.

The fastest way for a person to change their current state of mind is to change their physiology.

Remember the mind-body connection? If Billy wants to get into a prepared state, what does he have to do? Perhaps make a fist or some other movement that he has anchored into his neurology. In other words, the body needs to mimic a past position that stimulates the necessary response. For example, if this person made a fist every time he practiced self-defense, then the necessary mental state would be triggered when he repeats the same fist. So what we need is an anchor that creates the mental state we want, and the best way to do this is to get our body into a position that mimics the feeling. For example, how would you stand, breathe, walk, and talk if you felt happy and serene? How would you stand, breathe, walk, and talk if you were about to defend yourself from a punch to the nose? I am sure you will notice the difference; even your breathing will have changed. Try it!

Billy can let go of the flowers and drop into a combat stance. He has probably been in this stance so many times that when he gets into it again, everything clicks into place, like lock tumblers. He changes his body to get into a specific state of mind. It’s the same thing if you are going to defend yourself against extreme happiness. Every once in a while, happiness sneaks up on us to do its dirty work. But sometimes we just don’t want to be happy; hey, it’s our right to be unhappy. We need to know how to get into our depressed stance so we can stop happiness in its tracks.

So what would your body have to do so that your mind felt depressed? First, you would probably slump your shoulders and lower your head. Next, your breathing would get shallow, and if you spoke, it would be more of a mumble. You would think of depressing moments from your past and walk around as if surrounded by walls. What we then have are simply stances that generate states.

Winjitsu Work Out

Practice matching a mood to a physical stance. How would you stand to portray: depression, joy, confidence, strength?

About the Author RICK TEW

I will do the splits for you too. I provide edutainment events that help you to be a Ninja in what you do. I offer Martial Arts Therapy Retreats on Samui Island in Thailand. My unique Winjitsu Mind-Body system of coaching inspires you to BE more fulfilled and to DO more to KickStart your ideas.

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