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Locus Of Control: What It Is & Why You Should Care

Do you attribute occurrences in your personal or professional life to luck or fate? Are you set on the belief that you’re the master of your own destiny in every situation? Only one of these outlooks mark the path to the success you’re after.

Diana Albertyn

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Where you believe the locus (Latin for ‘place’) of control lies in your life, determines how much agency you think you have over its course. How you view the world, and consequently the actions you choose (or fail) to take are framed by either an internal or external locus of control.

What is locus of control and why should you care?

The extent to which you believe you have power over the events in your life is determined by whether you think you have the ability to influence situations and their outcomes (internal locus of control), or if you blame outside forces for everything that happens (external locus of control).

The effect of locus of control impacts multiple areas of your life. Experts from the Journal of Business Venturing believe that internal locus of control contributes to a more successful work life and affects the levels of entrepreneurship in different countries.

While the current perspectives you believe to be true aren’t always ‘real’, they’re not entirely false either. Where you believe in luck or creating your own, your view is not innate and can be changed.

“Beliefs represent the acceptance of something without any proof to back up what we accept as fact,” says Tom Corley, author of Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life. “They are unconscious programming and they’re usually inherited.”

How did enquiry into Locus of Control come about?

This concept of locus of control was discovered by Julian Rotter in the 1960s, who found that the underlying question regarding the locus of control is: ‘Do I control my life or does something else control it?’

He believed that an idea this simple could have profound significance in influencing peoples’ beliefs. Whether you believe in a higher power, luck or the Law of Attraction, affects how you make your decisions and live your life.  If you believe that making all the right decisions mean you can direct your life to be exactly how you envision it, you most likely possess an internal locus of control.

Related: 6 Mental Barriers You Must Tear Down To Succeed

What is an Internal Locus of Control?

confident-business-man

People who have an internal locus of control believe they’re in charge of their lives. Both their successes and failures are attributed to their direct choices and actions. However, having a super internal locus of control is advantageous to success, because when you think that your fate is in your hands you’re a go-getter and don’t rely on, or blame other factors for your triumph or failure.

Definition of Internal Locus of Control

If a person has an internal locus of control, that person credits success to his or her own efforts and abilities. Expecting to succeed leads you to be more motivated and more likely to learn.

Traits of Internal Locus of Control

If you tend to look at life through the internal locus of control lens, some traits include:

  • You think you’re solely responsible for your success and failure
  • You’re less prone to anxiety and depression
  • Your levels of independence are higher
  • You’re achievement-oriented
  • You tend to be more health-conscious.

Leadership and emotional intelligence expert Paul Nyamuda explains an internal locus of control as a simple decision: “I’m going to be joyful today; nothing in my external environment is going to affect my mood – that’s the internal locus of control,” he explains. “I determine whether I’m going to be a success in life or I’m going to be a failure.”

The benefits of an Internal Locus of Control

An internal locus of control enables you to believe that you shape and determine your own future and acknowledge that you’re a powerful person who doesn’t blame others for your behaviour. Having an internal locus of control means you don’t give your weaknesses the power to control your behaviour. “I take charge of my behavior, I choose to be happy today, I choose to be full of joy today and no one can take that from me,” says Nyamuda.

Related: (Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas

What is an External Locus of Control?

external-locus-of-control

On the contrary, if you have an external locus of control, you’re essentially at the mercy of your circumstances. Other people, your environment or a higher power controls what happens, not your own decision or actions.

Having an external locus of control makes it easier to hold everyone else accountable for your current situation, but yourself. If you have a very external locus of control, you believe that deities, fate, karma, randomness, luck or some other external source of power determines occurrences in your life.

Definition of External Locus of Control

A person with an external locus of control, who attributes his or her success to luck or fate, will be less likely to make the effort needed to learn. People with an external locus of control are also more likely to experience anxiety since they believe that they are not in control of their lives.

Traits of an External Locus of Control

Those with a primarily external locus of control, are more likely to:

  • Believe luck, chance and fate decides what happens to them
  • Be negative, pessimistic and give up more easily when faced with setbacks
  • Not feel the need to reach out and create new relationships or try to repair old ones
  • Feel more helpless when faced with stress or illness.

The pitfalls of an External Locus of Control

According to Nyamuda, there’s a place for external locus of control. For example, acknowledging that there are things in our lives that are outside of our control and are beyond us.

However, an external locus of control taken to the extreme could lead to complacency. “Let me give you an example: When it comes to prospering financially, do you leave it to something else completely outside yourself and become like a sluggard, the type of individual who’s lazy? These type of people become very mystical about these things and kind of think ‘success will just come to me, it’ll just happen’.” 

Do you want to understand your own Locus of Control? Test yourself

Since the concept of locus of control was first developed, several attempts have been made by psychologists, scientists, and researchers to develop an accurate and effective method to measure someone’s locus of control.

Today, multiple tests are available for you to take to determine where in the spectrum you fall. Some resources offered to determine your locus of control are:

It’s important to use a reputable test that is designed to match your circumstances, so ensure you venture beyond the three listed above and discover the wide range of locus of control tests available to determine your locus of control.

Related: 15 Traits Of Unstoppable People

How does your Locus of Control impact your life and your success?

work-life-balance-control

Adopting an internal locus of control has benefits that lead to improved performance, better wellbeing and enhanced stress management. Generally, an external locus of control can impact negatively on how you handle your outlook on life when circumstances aren’t in your favour. Your locus of control can have an impact on:

1. Personal confidence

Internal locus of control is supported by a sense of self-efficacy, capability and a realistic view of success and what it means for you as an individual.

“This sense of control provides them with clarity over their direction and confidence through achieving their desired outcomes,” according to Mental Toughness Partners, an experienced and licensed global network of coaches, HR advisers and mental toughness practitioners. “It’s a strong foundation for success as well as happiness and a less stressful life.”

2. Positivity

Internal locus of control is largely related to mental toughness, and these people are consistently successful because their focus is to make things happen and get things done. Positivity drives people with an internal locus of control to carry out tasks without distraction, diversion, fear or obstacles.

“One reason is that they almost always possess a strong internal locus of control, which is the extent to which they believe they can control events affecting them through their own personal decisions and actions,” Having an external locus of control enables you to better control your emotions when reacting to events around you.

3. Anxiety

“Because feeling in control over our jobs and lives reduces stress, it even affects our physical health,” says the author of New York Times bestseller The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor. “One sweeping study of 7,400 employees found that those who felt they had little control over deadlines imposed by other people had a 50% higher risk of coronary heart disease than their counterparts.”

4. Perception of luck vs self-agency and opportunities

People with an external locus of control are more likely to believe that what happens to them is the direct result of luck being on their side, fate dealing them with a certain hand, or being determined by people in authority. You may tend to give up when life doesn’t “go your way,” because you don’t feel that you have the power to change it.

5. Progression in career

“If you’ve got a strong internal locus control you will read books, you will study the market and you will be keen to develop yourself in terms of your credibility, integrity and competence,” says Nyamuda.

Basically, you’re more motivated to work on your skills and go out there to look for the business, reach those targets and seek those prospects. “Why? Because if I do that my behaviour will determine the outcomes. While there might be some extraneous factors that may affect it, I acknowledge that,” he says.

6. Progression as a business owner

An entrepreneur with an internal locus of control is strong on cause and effect, and therefore, if for example they’re recruiting for their company their mindset as a business owner is: ‘If I hire the right people and position them correctly, then I’ll be successful.’ however, an entrepreneur with an external locus of control could blame everything from ‘man it’s terrible, this country just doesn’t have enough talent, to ‘oh it’s really bad, the people that I’ve got in my company are incompetent.’

But, as Nyamuda points out, you hired them, so you should take responsibility. “You begin to say ‘hmm, I made a few bad choices here. I’ll need to tweak my technique; I’ll need to work on my hiring skills; I’ll need to be more thorough, or I’ll need to work with a reputable recruitment agency,” he suggests. The approach means you’re taking charge of your life, which is crucial if you want to be a success in life.

7.  Success, wealth, fulfillment

An internal locus control mobilises you into action, while and external locus of control makes you feel powerless to change your current situation – whether it’s financial, physical or personal. People with an internal locus of control tend to recognise their power in any situation.

Assuming the control over your success enables you to realise that ‘if I do this then this will happen and if I do that then that will happen; if I mess up in this area then these are the consequences’.

Having an internal locus of control is all about realising that you will reap whatever you have sown. You get out whatever you put in, and that’s the mindset of someone who’s strong with an internal locus of control. “And that’s one of the things successful people do differently,” says Nyamuda.

Related: 9 Reliable Ways To Cultivate Creative Thinking

How to shift from an External Locus of Control to an Internal Locus of Control

external-to-internal-control

“Developing an internal locus of control begins with the realisation that you always a have a choice and that whilst some important things in life may go against you, you do have control over the way you react to those situations,” according to Mental Toughness Partners.

One way to overcome any feelings of powerlessness in any situation is to pay attention to your self-talk. Listen when you speak and pick up on moments when you’re surrendering to your circumstances. If you catch yourself saying things like ‘I have no choice,’ or ‘there’s nothing I can do,’ you need to take a step back, remind yourself that you have the power to make your own choices, despite what is happening around you.

When you set goals for yourself, observe your progress and make notes on every single milestone you reach on your way to the achieving of your goal. Note how you are making positive changes in your life by working toward these goals to build your confidence in yourself and your abilities, despite what you have been faced with.

But don’t expect it to be as easy as a programme of a few steps. Your locus of control took time to develop to where it is, and it may require a little extra effort to change your mindset.

“Your existing beliefs were formed over many years. It takes time to reprogram your belief system. How long? According to my research, at least one year of dedicated effort,” says Corley. “But that one year investment will pay dividends for the rest of your life.”

So, how do you make the switch from having an External Locus of Control to an Internal Locus of Control? Corley suggests:

  • Associate with individuals who possess the success beliefs you want to adopt
  • Read books and articles on self-made millionaires
  • Read inspirational books and articles
  • Listen to inspirational podcasts
  • Watch and listen to inspirational TEDx talks
  • Create daily affirmations around the success beliefs you want to adopt
  • Meditate and focus on your new success beliefs (10-15 minutes a day is all it takes).

“Through development of an internal locus of control, not only does the individual benefit but the organisation as well. Organisational human capital increases through the behavioural values practiced by the employees,” advises Dr. Michael Kolacz, professor of Management and Associate Department Chair of Management for the Livonia and Warren campuses of Davenport University. “An empowered, proactive, positively focused workforce exhibits the characteristics necessary for competitive success in today’s dynamic environment.”

Diana completed a BA in Journalism in 2010 and has honed her skills as a newspaper reporter, senior communications specialist and most recently worked at a weekly magazine as a writer. She joined the EMTS Group in 2016 as a writer for Entrepreneur magazine and SmartCompany Networks. Passionate about honing her writing skills and delivering exceptional client results, Diana continues to keep a finger on the pulse of industry news and insights.

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Self Development

Re-engineer Your Performance Culture To Avoid Disruption

52% of the companies on the Fortune 500 in the year 2000 no longer exist today. Simply put, they were disrupted. If you want to survive and thrive, you need to learn to be the disruptor, and that starts with your employees.

Rob Jardine

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“It’s been discovered that traditional performance reviews trigger the same threat networks in the brain as those that are triggered when we are being attacked by a lion in the wild.”

Developing a performance culture

Performance management is not just about a system, it’s a culture. At its very core it shows what a company values and what it does not. It’s a means through which we reward and encourage certain behaviour and provides a process that enables us to correct behaviour that is not considered helpful in the business.

If a company rewards both quality of client relationships and sales targets for example, it displays a different culture to a company that only rewards sales targets. The way in which companies reward behaviour, be it individual bonuses, team bonuses or incentive trips demonstrates what values they hold.

Related: Leadership Advisor At NeuroLeadership Institute Shares Lessons On Business Success

It’s therefore imperative that businesses begin this process by first defining what they want their performance culture to look like. What does ‘good’ look like and how do we recognise it? I recently read that the best way for top talent to figure out if they want to work for a potential employer is to ask the interviewer how they reward and recognise talent.

This will indicate the type of culture a business has and whether you may be a good fit. From a business perspective, it will determine what types of employees you attract, and how customers are treated by your organisation.

There are a lot of reasons why more than half of the Fortune 500 companies from the year 2000 no longer exist today, but one of the most important is that their decline is simply indicative of disruptive times.

In disruptive times we experience changes in the workplace that fundamentally shake up and change how we do business. The most disruptive times force us to take an honest look at ourselves and reconsider what we need to change to survive. Those that do not adapt often die. But it’s also true that in moments like these industries, societies and cultures move forward.

Be in-tune with your company’s performance culture

One of the biggest areas of reflection for businesses in recent years has been our traditional methods of managing performance. Performance management is considered to be one of the most important functions of a business, no matter the industry or size.

The outcomes of how we manage performance may be the most impactful events in how we get the best out of people, define and execute strategy and ultimately survive as a business. As times change and we move into the next industrial revolution, the pressure has started to mount on many companies that have to reengineer a dated system.

They are being asked to align it with the actual dynamics of work and reflect the nuances of how business has changed. This is even more important when we consider that most of today’s traditional yearly target-review processes stem from the first industrial revolution, which occurred a century ago. A survey of global executives recently admitted that they had only a 4% approval on current performance management processes.

Performance reviews trigger fight or flight

If we consider that most employee performance review techniques are linked to a basically antiquated system, then how we understand the brain can determine what modern-day performance management should look like, starting with how we review our employees.

A major breakthrough in neuroscience has led the field in reengineering performance. It’s been discovered that traditional performance reviews trigger the same threat networks in the brain as those that are triggered when we are being attacked by a lion in the wild.

When these networks are triggered the brain does not prioritise its higher-order thinking and rather resorts to instinctual, unconscious behaviour in order to ensure survival. This has commonly been known as the fight or flight response. In this state the brain’s best thinking is not prioritised as the brain relies on the quick and instinctive thinking needed to ensure survival.

What’s important to remember here is that the brain uses the same neural networks for both physical and social threat. This explains how the same areas of the brain light up when we feel socially threatened in a performance review and when we hurt ourselves physically. It also explains why social isolation is used as an effective form of punishment in prison.

How to achieve a successful performance review

The challenge with performance conversations is that a crucial outcome of the conversation is for the brain to be at its best to prioritise its best thinking. A successful performance review occurs when individuals think reflectively about performance feedback and are able to adjust behaviour and move forward with a plan of action.

The problem is that most performance conversations do not achieve this result successfully because traditional performance reviews trigger a threat response that prevents the brain from being at its best.

Our work at the NeuroLeadership Institute has cumulated in a model of social triggers that can be used to better understand how these social triggers play out. The SCARF model was developed by Dr David Rock and focuses on what triggers a threat state in the brain and what can be leveraged to put the brain into its best state. These could be summarised in the questions:

  • Am I being valued and respected? (Status)
  • Am I in the loop? (Certainty)
  • Do I have a sense of control? (Autonomy)
  • Do I belong? (Relatedness)
  • Am I being treated fairly compared to others? (Fairness)

A typical performance conversation is started with something along the lines of “Come in, let’s do your performance review,” or if you would like to start the conversation, “I need to give you some feedback.” This may trigger all five of the SCARF triggers and put the brain into a natural fight/flight mode.

There is no sense of what the conversation is about and no degree of control and there is a clear distinction made between manager and feedback receiver. However, by being aware of these triggers we are able to structure the same conversation in a different way.

Related: Can Being Deceptive Help You Build Your Business? It Worked For These 5 Entrepreneurs

You could begin the conversation by saying, “I need to give you feedback about X and I need 20 minutes of your time. What time is good for you today?” This conversation puts the brain into a state where it can prioritise its best thinking and is better prepared to actually think differently when given the feedback — the desired outcome of most performance management conversations.

How you can re-engineer your performance culture

At the NeuroLeadership institute we have found that many of our clients are trying to reengineer their performance culture and change the three most critical stages of the performance cycle.

These are Goal Setting, Performance Feedback and Rewards. The changes have largely been influenced by an understanding of threat states in the brain. There are a number of ways that companies are experimenting with changing performance that include removing performance ranking and decoupling bonuses from performance discussions — some of the things that actively trigger the brain’s natural threat network.

We recommend starting the change where you are in your performance journey. Some industries and cultures are more fertile for more radical changes, while others are not. In some cases, you cannot take away ratings or individual targets as the business model does not allow for it.

Some cultures are not always ready for 360o-feedback right away and some remuneration schemes are not always ready for group or shared bonuses. Further technical and system constraints may also impact what is possible. One thing everyone is ready for is to improve the quality of conversations and have them more often.

Why are you conducting performance reviews?

When we think about the performance conversation, we have to remind ourselves what the point of it is. They often deteriorate into conversations that attempt to justify performance or fight for an increase.

This is why a lot of businesses are decoupling bonus or remuneration outcomes from the outcomes of conversations. When we do so, what do we really speak about then? Performance and behaviour change, not a fight or an attempt to justify a salary or performance.

We have found that it’s useful to separate conversations. A salary discussion should ideally happen once a year and check-ins and progress conversations should happen more often. There should be more conversations about performance in a year, done in a brain-friendly manner.

It can sometimes be more stressful for the feedback giver than the feedback receiver and that is why we often delay a conversation until it’s necessary to have one and it becomes a tough conversation.

Figure 1 demonstrates the benefit of having more frequent conversations. When you have regular check-ins you are more able to catch behaviour when it is moving off course and correct the trajectory of growth so that targets are achieved and there isn’t a big surprise between planned and actual performance.

the-business-case-for-frequent-conversations

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Self Development

Why Stress Can Actually Be Good For You

For years we’ve been told how unhealthy stress can be and how important it is to manage our stress. Turns out, everything we thought we knew about stress might actually be wrong.

Nadine Todd

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As a high-performing entrepreneur, there are few things more irritating than being told to work less and manage your stress. You’re building a business, which by its very nature requires a lot of time and is stressful.

Here’s the good news. Health psychologist and author of the best-selling book The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It, Kelly McGonigal, has one mission: To help people be happier and healthier. For many years this meant sharing the message that stress makes you sick. It increases the risk of everything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. Basically, she turned stress into the enemy.

But thanks to some ground-breaking studies, Kelly changed her mind. As it turns out, stress doesn’t kill you. Thinking that stress will kill you is the real killer.

Don’t view stress as harmful

Kelly’s opinion of stress started shifting after a ground-breaking study in the US tracked 30 000 adults for eight years. At the start of the study, participants were asked how much stress they had experienced in the last year, and if they believed stress was harmful to their health. They then used public death records to find out who died.

Related: 49 Inspirational Quotes And Mantras To Help You Overcome The Stress Of Running A Business

Here’s the bad news: People who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year had a 43% higher chance of dying. But  that was only true for the people who also believed that stress is harmful.

People who experienced a lot of stress but did not view stress as harmful to their health were no more likely to die than people with absolutely no stress in their lives. In fact, the focus group who had experienced stress but didn’t view it as harmful actually had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study.

Change your response to stress

Other studies have revealed that changing your mind about stress can change your body’s response to it. You can make stress good for you. In one Harvard study, participants were placed in a stressful situation but told that the stress response was good and would help them cope with the situation. Briefed that all the physical signs of stress were helping them to stay focused and perform at their peak — including a heightened heart rate — the participants had a different physiological reaction to someone who believes their stress response is bad.

In a typical stress response, your heart rate goes up and your blood vessels constrict. Constricted vessels are a factor in cardiovascular disease; chronic stress is sometimes associated with heart attacks. It’s not healthy to be in this state all the time.

But in the study, when participants viewed their stress response as helpful, their blood vessels stayed relaxed. Their heart was still pounding, but their cardiovascular profile looked more like what happens in moments of joy and courage. Over a lifetime of stressful experiences, this one biological change could be the difference between a stress-induced heart attack at 50 and living well into your 90s.

Stress also releases oxytocin, which fine-tunes your brain’s social instincts. It primes you to do things that strengthen relationships by making you crave physical contact with your friends and family, enhancing your empathy, and making you more willing to help and support people you care about. So, when oxytocin is released in the stress response, it’s motivating you to seek support.

How will knowing this side of stress make you healthier? Oxytocin also acts on your body. One of its main roles is to protect your cardiovascular system from the effects of stress. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory that also helps your blood vessels stay relaxed during stress. It even helps heart cells regenerate and heal from any stress-induced damage.

Pulling it all together

The harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable. How you think and act can transform your experience of stress. When you view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.

Stress gives us access to our hearts, from the compassionate heart that finds joy and meaning in connecting with others, and to the pounding physical heart, working so hard to give us strength and energy. When you view stress this way, you’re not just getting better at it, you’re actually making a profound statement that you trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and that you don’t have to face them alone.

Read next: 4 Stress-Management Tips For Reducing Anxiety And Getting More Done

Watch Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk on how to make stress your friend:

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Self Development

It’s OK To Not Be OK

First, acknowledge your feelings. Then, follow these tips to do something about it.

Nicolette Amarillas

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We live in an age of image projection. Instagram gets over 95 million posts per day. You can find hundreds of thousands of pictures of engagement rings, new puppies, exotic dinners or washboard abs at any given moment.

Even LinkedIn is probably sending you dozens of notifications each month reminding you to congratulate your high school acquaintances on their job-iversaries. It’s easy to get caught up in the general tendency of creating an illusion that we have our lives perfectly together. After all, people are watching. So, what happens when you are not OK?

When depression sets in, when negative self-talk gets too loud or when you get let go, get dumped or lose a loved one. What do we do when we don’t have a solution?

During hard times, most people want to skip past the moment of acknowledging that they aren’t OK and go straight to working toward a resolution. Resolutions – even tough ones – make us feel in control.

Admitting that you’re struggling doesn’t feel as manageable, or fit in with the sense of perfection that most people get blasted with on social media. But the ability to sit with a feeling of failure can be one of the most important skills you learn, both in life and in work.

The power of saying “I’m not OK”

Embracing tough moments, instead of swiftly moving past them, can be incredibly powerful when practiced correctly.

Framing the situation correctly is validating; you acknowledge that your feelings are justified, and that even though your situation is not ideal, you accept there is nothing wrong with the fact that you’re struggling. This is not about accepting and ignoring, this is accepting and moving through.

study from Montana State University found that people who are authentic and honest with themselves can overcome feelings of shame – which would otherwise cause them to devalue themselves.

Dwelling on a feeling of failure is paralysing. It will keep you from asking for help when you need it or making good choices.

Understand that sometimes your emotions take precedence over finding a solution. We often discount the value of feelings  especially in the workplace – but you need to remember that in the end, emotions are simply information.They are facts of life like any other. Emotions exist, and when you’re making decisions, you’ll have to factor them in.

Everyone has points in their career where they make a major mistake or feel overwhelmed by their workload. Women in particular are usually taught not to talk about it.

But according to the sociologist Arlie Hochschild, suppressing negative feelings can cause an “emotional load” that causes you to burn out faster, give up more easily and ultimately be less successful.

As an entrepreneur, professional woman and recovering perfectionist, I’ve realised I need to give myself permission to be not OK sometimes. I accept that there isn’t a solution right now, and I tell myself that that’s OK. That attitude is what has given me the stamina to accomplish everything that I have, even when times felt dark.

Related: It’s My Job And I’ll Cry If I Want To: The Case For Showing Emotions In The Workplace

4 Ways to ground yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work

work-stress

Enduring uncertainty isn’t easy. It’s a professional skill that needs to be fostered like any other. I have four main tactics I personally use in order to stay centred during challenging times.

1. Breathe

You may have heard it a hundred times from your yoga teachers, but it bears repeating: Breathing is the single best way to get yourself centred. There are many different therapeutic ways to breathe, but here’s a simple one I enjoy: If possible, lie on the floor, knees up but feet planted. Otherwise, find somewhere where you can be seated.

Take one hand and put it on your belly and the other on your chest. Inhale for three seconds breathing through your belly, then an additional two seconds filling the chest with air. Hold the breath for a moment and exhale through the mouth completely.

Breathing effectively can literally cure the physical aspects of anxiety. It’s an underrated skill when we talk about what contributes to professional success, but it can make a huge difference.

Related: (Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas

2. Find a mantra

You might not consider yourself a “mantra” kind of person, but positive affirmations have been consistently shown to make a major positive impact on confidence and performance.

That said, there’s no need to start memorising inspirational quotes or learning Buddhist scripture. Create your own mantras, ones that resonate for you. Figure out what it is that you need to hear in order to feel stronger.

Some things I find comfort in saying are “I am whole. I am safe. I am here.” Or as Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.” These are just simple sentences, but I find them to be powerful in their ability to bring me to my current state.

3. Move

I am huge fan of going for walks when work gets hectic. It’s a valuable way to let your body influence what your brain is doing, instead of the other way around. Try using the power of your steps to help calm your mind and reconnect with the immediate present, so you can keep things in perspective.

The way you hold and move your body can also legitimately influence your sense of person ability. In social scientist Amy Cuddy’s famous TED Talk, she talks about how body language influences confidence.

I teach the power of posture and a strong mind-body connection in the first part of my four-part workshop series, Developing Executive Presence. The goal is to help students develop their own authentic presence as a base necessity for the workshops that follow.

Related: 15 Traits Of Unstoppable People

4. Talk about it

Sometimes, you just need a third-party opinion in order to keep things in perspective. Reach out to your loved ones, friends or even coworkers.

Holistic psychotherapist Kat Dahlen deVos has some great thoughts on the subject: “Sometimes, when we are experiencing fear, sadness or any other painful emotion, our tendency is to feel very alone – like no one understands or can relate to us.

As a result, we isolate, which can actually increase the intensity of our suffering by activating our stress response (a.k.a ‘fight or flight’). When we’re talking to a loved one about what we’re going through, we’re doing two things that can actually help us to move through the difficulty: Allowing our vulnerability to be witnessed, and building the capacity to tolerate painful experiences.”

Other people might be able to make a point that you hadn’t considered, or they might just listen and validate what you’re feeling. Either way, talking honestly about how you’re feeling will ground you, and it might even convince your listeners to be more genuine with themselves about their emotions, as well.

We’re conditioned to think that we always need to give a sense of perfection, but in my experience, that hurts more than it helps us. Humans are flawed, and they struggle in their work life just like in their regular lives. The people who end up being the most successful aren’t the ones who don’t struggle. They’re the ones who know it’s OK to not be OK.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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