28 Oct What do you do when they’re counting on you to deliver but your nerves are working against you?
Did you know that studies show when you’re under pressure your brain actually works against you? What do I mean? When the pressure’s up and you’re under pressure and that choking moment is there, your brain goes into hyper drive. The emotional center of your brain goes into hyper drive and cuts off your cognitive thinking. Resulting in your brain actually working against you.
In that moment, you don’t want to be there. You don’t want to be nervous. You don’t want to have your hands shaking. You don’t want to be mumbling and babbling. You know you want to be your best in that moment, but your brain says, “heck with this, we’re out of here”. It’s trying to run or fight.
So, in that moment when your own system is fighting against you, how do you get control?
That’s the purpose of this post. That’s the whole reason why I do what I do. To help you figure out how do I get back online and be my best the quickest. What we’re seeing in the research for decades upon decades is that when that pressure comes on, control is gone.
Therefore, our goal is to figure out how do we end that moment right away? Well, there is an interesting study from the University of California led by Lieberman.
What it showed was participants would have an emotional experience. The investigators would see the emotional center of the brain fire off and the participants have lost control. So, how did they get control again? They would have them label the emotion; apply a rational description to the emotion.
That rational description brought down the emotional intensity. Understand? So, by putting that rational description up against that emotion, it brought that intensity back down.
How does that help you? All of a sudden, with the emotional intensity reduced, now you can think clearer again, your hands are not shaking. You're not talking too fast. You're not disoriented as much because of applying a rational response to the emotion.
We’ve seen the same thing in cognitive behavioral therapy, “thinking” therapy. Where if the patients comes in, and they have depression or anxiety or test anxiety or performance anxiety; the idea of going to speak in front of the board or pitch in front of the investors or talk to the media has got them totally choked up to the point where they can’t think and they can’t perform.
What they have these individuals do is place a rational thought against that emotion, disprove that emotion and find the pessimism in that emotion.
As you describe the emotion rationally, down comes the intensity and you’re back online in an instant. True story, you can find it yourself with your own CBT research. They’ve seen patients who’ve had depression, anxiety, and stress for years come in and in one session, it’s removed simply by proving it to themselves with a rational thought.
You’ve heard the saying in law. The evidence does not lie. As soon as you recognize that evidence, down goes the emotional intensity.
Quick story, I used to work in the operating room. I was as a medical device sales guy. So I’d go into the operating room and you’re there to help facilitate the surgery, give suggestions to the surgeon potentially, and help the nurses. There were times in that environment where it was incredibly pressured. I found myself in situations where the patient had been cut. They’re dealing with the replacement of the knee or the hip or the shoulder. And all of a sudden, something goes wrong.
Maybe they didn’t bring the right instruments. Maybe they didn’t bring the right implant. Maybe the implant fell on the floor and so it’s a crucial time. The operating room team needs to get this fixed right now. Unfortunately because of the extreme pressure everything in me just lit up on fire. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I’m the one they’re counting on for the answer and my whole body is shutting down. My hands were shaking. My mind was racing. There was no one to call. There was no one to turn to. I was the one who had to get this done. So, what do you do? In those moments, sometimes, I’ll admit it, I crashed and burned.
It was a gut wrenching, paralyzing and humiliating experience. Having gone through those experiences, I sought out this answer for you. How could you get through it?
In short, you apply a rational thought to the emotion.
In that job, over time, I learned that when those pressure moments were on, stop for a second, apply a rational thought to this emotion, prove it to yourself, that you’ve already beaten this.
So, you might say to yourself something like, “I've done this before. I can do it again”, or “If they can figure it out, I can figure it out”, or “If I take my time, I will find the answer”.
But if you get caught up in the story of the emotion, “we can’t do it” or “What are we doing?” or “I can’t”. You’re dead. You’ve got to get that intensity down. And how do you get the intensity down? Prove it to yourself. The evidence will not lie. If you apply a rational thought to an emotional place, it will bring the intensity down and you will find a way to win.