Lisa Whiteman | Jan 25, 2020 | 0
BEing Blog 21 – BE Prepared for Action – Episode 4
Serious situations call for serious action. We can’t afford to leave anything to chance. When an emergency demands our full attention and focus the biological impact this has on us is huge! To survive and even thrive under these pressure cooker situations requires a high level of self-awareness and a few well practised systems (habits) to get us through. If we use these systems every day, when things are chugging along at the usual pace of hectic, then when we need to up the ante, the skills are there and can be implemented without disrupting the flow of the situation at hand.
Over my next few blogs I am going to chat about my four cornerstone, ‘Be Prepared for Action’ strategies.
The final Action strategy is Thinking
Thinking about thinking is a unique ability of the human brain. Metacognition is the ability to think about and regulate one’s own thoughts and the ability to change them. Metacognition is both the awareness of thought processes, and the ability to alter thoughts and behaviours.
Our metacognitive processes allow us to learn from prior experiences, generalize learning so we can apply strategies to new situations, evaluate different approaches, and decide how we might do things differently next time. People with good metacognitive skills can plan an approach to learning a new skill or solving a problem, monitor their progress towards their goal, and evaluate their own success.
This all happens in our brain’s high functioning neocortex with the logical processing thinking skills in the thinking/left brain.
Being able to identify a rise in emotion; the frustration of a drop in performance, anger towards a situation or person, or upset following a failure as an emotion/right brain event, flips us immediately out of the emotion and back into the thinking/left brain, where we can 4-7-8 reset breathe [link] and then make a decision that leads us closer towards the goal.
Psychologist Dr Ceri Evan’s uses a blue/red scale, where, before reacting you check in on how you are feeling (red hot emotion or cool blue thinking) and where on the scale you currently sit.
If you find yourself in the emotional red arena, just thinking about this will move you towards the blue side when you can respond rather than react. You can plan, pivot, or persist with a fresh and clearer viewpoint.
A strategy that gives perspective once you have identified your red/blue status is the: “Step Back – Step Up – and Step In” process described by Dr Evan’s in his book, Perform Under Pressure.
This is a mental process where we imaging that we step back from the situation so we can see our response to it; we step up in our mind to a higher plane overlooking the situation so we can see the bigger picture (and the one that aligns with our intention for this situation); then we step in and re-engage from this higher/ greater perspective.
In the action toolkit we have touched on what I believe to be the fundamental strategies to support performance under pressure.
I hope you have found this series useful.
Eichbaum QG Thinking about thinking and emotion: the metacognitive approach to the medical humanities that integrates the humanities with the basic and clinical sciences. Perm J. 2014 Fall;18(4):64-75.