Do you ever find yourself in a social situation where you’re not exactly sure how to react, and you don’t trust yourself to simply act naturally? This principal (old as the hills) can help you dispel your fears of any situation that comes along. All you have to do is take that one particular scene that currently makes you unsure of yourself, and decide specifically how you are going to react before the situation ever comes along. I call this a simple principal because this is how all training works.
Let’s take the police – they train for situations over and over again throughout their entire career because when it’s “crunch time” they don’t have time to think, all they have time to do is react. If they have been trained properly, their minds and bodies will do what they were trained to do. It’s not a situation where the authorities want guesswork. The police are trained according to the best methods available at the time (at least someone decided that they were the best methods). The basic principal here is that people react in the manner that they were trained to react. When fear sets in and people aren’t sure how or what to think, the training kicks in and they do things automatically. This isn’t always a physical training. The police go through verbal and situational scenarios as well as the physical aspects of training.
I’m not saying that I always agree with the police and the way they do things, but they served as a really good example of how and why training works. And this applies to you. The training doesn’t have to come from someone else, or a book. The training can come from you. Your own training can come from what YOU have previously decided was the best course of action for YOUR GOALS in any given situation. It could be as variable as asking the girl at the bar for her number to getting yelled at by your boss in public.
1. Ask yourself which situations scare you, or at least make you worry that you won’t be prepared to handle if they ever come up. These are probably the scenarios that you should begin with in training yourself and your mind to deal with in the manner that you consider appropriate.
2. Play the situation in your head. This should be easy because if it gives you any fear at all, it probably plays out in your head often, which is actually causing you more fear.
3. Decide how your “best self” would handle the scenario if it ever occurred. Be as specific as possible, even go as far as writing down exactly what you want to say.
4. Allow the situation to play out in your head again, this time visualizing yourself reacting the way you want to react, they way you DECIDED to react.
5. Try to maintain the same response, or as close as possible to your original response. This will reinforce your training every time your mind wanders to the scenario at hand. The only time this would change is if you have changed your decision on how you want to react.
6. When the situation actually occurs, and you think you may freeze in panic, you will be surprised to find yourself reacting in exactly the way you want. Congrats!
7. Possibly keep a journal of all the situations that you have trained yourself for, and look through them once a week to reinforce your training or see if you have changed your mind about the way you want to react.
Keep in mind that you can use this to train yourself for hypothetical or generalized situations. You can just decide the manner in which you want to react in general, and every time you come up with a scenario in your head that is not exact or specific, you can decide on general guidelines that fit the mannerism you expect from yourself, the idea of yourself that you would like to project . (For more on composing your identity, see this article.)
This is definitely a part of “programming yourself” into who you want to be, so have fun coding your mind.