I'm always looking to improve myself. I'm constantly trying out ways to stay productive and positive. Each day, I make an effort to do the things I can to reach my potential as a good and helpful person.
Occasionally though, I let my circumstances get the better of my emotions. For moments like these, I have always employed the coping mechanisms I learned as a kid. Shut up in case you say something you can't take back. Walk away if you feel you're going to react in anger.
Lately, I've been using this new method (I call it the 5 Minute Attitude Adjustment) in conjunction with a "deep thought" from one of my phone meditations. The idea was "what you think, you become."
I took that to mean, focusing on an attitude attribute (and repeating it, while trying to embody the characteristic) would eventually lead my countenance in that direction. To my perception of feelings, it works.
It started out with one word. When I would let something rile me, I'd repeat the word "calm" in my head for a minute or two and I would eventually calm down.
After seeing the benefit of using the trick in a reactive setting, I started using it proactively. I would walk to work thinking about the word "calm" before I had a reason to be anything but calm. It felt reassuring and I wanted to apply the lesson to other ideas. I eventually would string together a series of words to concentrate on as I walked to work (about a full mile, each way).
After that practice, I spent a few weeks refining a short list of key words that I could remember, repeat and personify. I'd quietly repeat them in a rhythmic way that started to manifest itself with some slight hand gestures. When I think of the word, 'calm,' I think of someone saying, "calm down" to someone else that might be hysterical. I can picture that person holding their palms to the floor and pushing down repeatedly. So, eventually, that's what I would start to do. With one hand, at least (the other hand is normally holding a coffee).
I started then searching for hand gestures that would symbolize the the words I'd chosen. I started with these first five.
- Gently push down as if you are telling someone to "calm down"
- Open your palm upwards and sweep away from your body, as if you are offering someone an opportunity to pass through a door while saying, "after you"
- Close the hand in a fist as a reminder that, while calm and considerate, you are still powerful and confident
- Energy can be a state of mind. Point the fingers down to the floor and quickly raise your hand from your front pants pocket area up towards shoulder.
- Point your fingers out and raise gently as in the Energetic move. Reminds me to feel light on my feet.
Eventually, I decided I wanted an additional one to remind me to embrace my inner self-control. I chose Discipline.
- Take the form of a soldier's salute to remind yourself of the internal strength you need to make the best decisions when temptation calls.