Boost Your Mental Fitness, Part 2

Welcome to part two of our three-part series on boosting your mental fitness. Before we dive, if you haven’t read the previous post, I strongly recommend you do, so you can follow along more smoothly. Alright, let’s get to it.

Today, we are going to explore the second muscle required to boost your mental fitness by first looking at some colorful characters that keep us from being our best, and then the muscle we use to get us back on track.

Last post explained how the limbic system is responsible for releasing hormones that evoke fight or flight, and is the residence of our Judge who whispers in our ears thoughts and feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness.

Well, this Judge is crafty, and he has enlisted the service of nine other accomplices. You’ve likely heard of them or felt them slithering around the edges of your mind, sneaking unwanted messages into your consciousness. Maybe you’ve heard the appeal of the Avoider, or the scold of the Stickler, or the criticism of the Controller.

These Saboteurs, along with the Judge, find all sorts of ways to keep us from achieving, attaining, and sometimes even trying at all.

And we learned in the last episode, the first mental muscle required to vanquish your Judge and now these other Saboteurs is to acknowledge they exist and call them out of hiding.

We didn’t really give a name to that muscle so let’s do that now. We’re going to use some terminology from renowned Executive Coach, author, and entrepreneur, Shirzad Chamine. In his wonderful book, Positive Intelligence, he names the three muscles required to develop peak mental fitness: Saboteur Interceptor, Self-Command, and Sage Engagement.

The muscle we discussed in the previous post and just now is the Saboteur Interceptor. This is where we acknowledge our Judge and Saboteur and call them out. Basically, awareness of the voices in our heads, but with a desire to thank them for the alert and ask that they leave before they do any damage.

Let’s look at an example. Say you are trying to complete a task and you keep getting distracted. This distraction behavior keeps you from getting done what you need to get done, and it hurts your productivity and performance.

It seems your Avoider Saboteur has gotten the best of you and is preventing you from completing your task. Now is when you need to call up your Saboteur Interceptor to step in and name this Avoider for what it is.

You can say, “I see you, Avoider (you can even give him a clever name like Squirrel). You’re trying to keep me from doing this task because there is the very shiny object over there. And while it is quite appealing, thank you but no, I need to stay on task right now. I’ll check it out later.”

Excellent, well done!

Once you’ve intercepted your Saboteur and labeled it, you need to invoke your Self-Command muscle.

This involves a physical and neurological action to be effective.

We call the action a PQ Rep and it conjures your Self-Command muscle into service. To do the PQ Rep, you very gently rub two fingers together for just ten seconds (or longer if you like) to tell your Self-Command mental muscle that it’s time to switch tracks.

The physical action of rubbing your fingers together so you can actually feel the ridges of your fingertips is sort of like a micro-meditation. It gets you focusing somewhere else besides your negative thoughts and feelings. It helps you make the mental switch to a more positive mindset – sort of like a dinner bell calling you to stop what you are doing and get to the dining room table to enjoy your meal.

Let’s not gloss over this act too quickly. It may, at first glance, seem like an unnecessary action. Do I really need to rub my fingers together to make this switch to a new mindset? Maybe not, but just like that dinner bell (or the opening notes of the Monday Night Football song), it gets you moving. And that is the key to developing mental fitness.

We all have triggers that prompt us to action. They may not be necessary, but they sure are helpful. Some triggers tempt us onto bad habits, while others call us to good ones. The PQ Rep is how we call our Self-Command muscle to draw us away from the negative thoughts and feelings of our limbic system and draw upon the executive function of our prefrontal cortex.

Once we’ve made the switch to our higher functioning problem-solving and decision-making mindset, we are ready to engage our Sage.

And that is where the real magic begins.

Check back soon to learn about the third and final muscle, Sage Engagement, you need to strengthen in order to boost your mental fitness.

Your Mindful Moment:

Emotions draw us closer to our deeper thoughts. Use them to guide you toward your values.

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Jimmy Glenos is a Work/Life Performance Coach. He helps people achieve their biggest dreams, reach their highest energy, and attain total work/life fulfillment. With over 30 years of hospitality and health care experience, Jimmy brings deep knowledge and insight to help people lead at work and succeed in life.

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