Life is a journey of expectations and surprises. Whether you anticipate every occurrence or not, your ability to see options and make constructive choices can transform your life into a grand adventure.
And you do have the ability see more options and make better choices. Everyone does.
But handling sudden upsets constructively requires a high level of mental flexibility. Luckily, that’s something you can learn.
Using the simple G.O.A.L. steps (Ground, Orient, Allow and Learn.) below can help you condition yourself to become more mentally flexible and respond constructively to whatever comes your way.
These simple techniques to GROUND your body, ORIENT to your environment, ALLOW calm observation, and LEARN from your experience increase your ability to respond quickly and constructively in any situation.
See which G.O.A.L. steps work best for you. And then look for opportunities throughout the day to practice them. Consistency is key to increasing your skills, enhancing your confidence, and building your resilience.
G.O.A.L. Step 1: Ground yourself.
Grounding yourself is the most important step in the G.O.A.L. process. It helps you stay calm in upsetting situations. And the other steps all depend on it.
Here is a list of easy ways to ground yourself anytime. These techniques are most effective when practiced regularly, and when used as soon as you notice a negative mindset.
- Describe the space you are in down to the smallest detail.
- Count backwards.
- Repeat a mantra that assures you are safe. You can simply say, “I am safe right now.”
- Recite a favorite prayer, poem or saying to yourself.
- Sitting or standing, be fully aware of your feet firmly on the ground.
- Run hot or cold water on your hands.
- Carry a special rock or token to touch in difficult moments.
- Tighten and release muscle groups, paying particular attention to the feelings of release.
- Breathe slowly, counting each breath and making the exhale longer than the inhale.
- Eat slowly, making note of how the food looks and smells, and noting individual textures and flavors.
- Move. Walk or just shift your weight from side to side, noting how it feels.
- Create a list of your favorite things to do. Choose one. Do it!
- Listen to a favorite song.
- Treat yourself to a spa night at home.
- Draw or color.
- Imagine a place where you feel safe.
- Connect with others for help and encouragement.
G.O.A.L. Step 2: Orient yourself.
Orienting yourself to your environment creates feelings of confidence and stability.
Increasing your orienting skills is easy. You naturally enhance your awareness by slowing down, looking around and noticing the information your senses bring you.
To do that:
- Slow down, letting your muscles release and your body relax.
- Look around slowly and deliberately. Allow your head to follow your eyes.
- Notice 3 things that bring you pleasure (e.g., colors, shapes, or designs).
- Imagine you are standing nearby, watching yourself.
- Notice information coming in through your senses. Become curious about what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
- Stay present with your sensations until they change. This increases your ability to sustain yourself during challenging situations.
G.O.A.L. Step 3: Allow things to be.
Allowing creates a natural sense of spaciousness. This spaciousness makes it easier to be present with whatever is happening around you without being overwhelmed or trying to stifle your feelings.
When you allow yourself to experience events fully, you let go of resistance that can impede healthy, constructive responses.
The steps below can help enhance your ability to allow things to be as they are.
These steps don’t require focusing on anything in particular. Instead, they make way for your natural ease and awareness to emerge.
- Notice and acknowledge your feelings.
- Allow yourself to experience bodily sensations.
- Put your emotions into words, e.g., “I feel anxious,” “I feel sad,” or “I feel angry.”
- See change as natural and let yourself flow with it.
- Picture your thoughts and feelings as clouds. Let them come and go.
- Replace judgments with acceptance.
- Let go of the past in order to move forward in the present.
G.O.A.L. Step 4: Learn from your experiences.
Being curious, asking questions and seeing each situation as an opportunity to learn defuses unpleasant experiences. Once defused, they lose their grip on you.
As the circumstances of your life change, your opportunities to learn increase. The key becoming consciously aware of opportunities to learn and utilizing that awareness to make changes that enhance your life.
- Be curious about things you notice.
- Be willing to see things differently, especially things that bother or upset you.
- Ask the question, “What if the opposite was also true?”
- Behave kindly to yourself and to others. Learning is easier among friends.
- See every situation as a special and important opportunity to grow.