Keeping Your Poise Under Pressure

You may be familiar with the term poised under pressure.

PRESSURE. Imagine a student who misreads the timetable and misses a crucial exam, or the investor who places all they have on a business idea which tanks before it can take-off. At the work-place, it could be deadlines, confrontations, unmet targets that could cost a career. In the family, the breaking news of a terminal illness, death of a loved one or the end of a love affair. Being divorced. Being actioned. Unable to pay bills. Name them

TRIGGERS: Such and other events may trigger responses such as fight-freeze-flight, responses that flood the body with cortisol, the stress hormone. Your muscles tense. You cut a sweat. The heart races. Rational decision making parts of your brain are overridden, and you literally cannot think straight. When faced by a demanding or threatening situation, individuals evaluate the discrepancy between the demands or threats vis-a-vis their perceived capacity to meet such demands. The greater the gap between the demands and perceived capacity to mitigate them, the greater the emotional discomfort the individual is likely to experience.

IN THE MOVIES:  Under such distressing moments, the actor grabs a beer, pours themselves a wine, puffs a cigar, yells, bangs the table, breaks a glass against the wall, and most recently, reaches for cabinet, grabs a tin and downs a tablet with water to kind of ‘calm down’. That is the picture the movies paint. When you are in the midst of pressure, chaos, reach for something external, and get yourself calm.

POISE: According to the Cambridge dictionary, poise is a CALM CONFIDENCE in a PERSON’S WAY of BEHAVING, OR, a QUALITY OF GRACE! It takes inner work to achieve a sense of poise under pressure. The ability to KEEP COOL IN CHAOS.

Here are three suggestions

  1. When you are triggered, PAUSE. This affords you the time needed to take back control. This is calling yourself to the present moment, to avoid primitive moves
  2. BREATHE: Yes, take one deep breath, feel your lungs fill up, your chest and stomach raise, and exhale slowly, paying all attention to the air leaving through your nostrils. Repeat this twice or thrice (more if you can)
  3. Take charge of your inner monologues. TALK TO YOURSELF like you talk to someone you love. Give your-self a quick pep-talk from the pedestal of self-love, esteem and confidence: ‘I got this’ ‘I can handle this’ ‘all things are working for my good’ ‘the universe is on my side’, let the energy of your self-talk begin to shift you!

While at it, your body responses begin to calm down, and the mind shifts to the commands of ‘I can handle this’ and geos to work with you to get solutions to the situation at hand, other than letting the present pressure immobilise you into inaction, self-doubt and even worse, self-sabotaging behaviours such as trying to dissolve your challenges in ethanol.