Three ways to manage yourself under pressure

Even in changing times when you can't control the external world, you are always the boss of your internal world. Here's three steps to take charge.

During these changing times, with the pandemic and lockdowns throwing the whole world off kilter, there are three ways to manage yourself under pressure.

And if you can manage yourself, you can help manage others around you and strengthen your relationships.

A friend called the other day. He's usually a pretty relaxed guy, loves his young family, enjoys his job, has a fun holiday every year. But on the phone his tension was obvious, and a little unsettling.

"I don't know where this is all going," he said.

"It's making me freak out about almost everything I thought was under control at the start of 2020. My boss says my job is safe and my kids and wife are all fine, but I still feel sort of panicky and worried all the time."

I get it. So much which is outside our control has been turned on its head, but people are feeling internal turmoil too.

This is what I told my friend about managing himself: You don't have to stress out. You don't have to worry too much. You don't have to be in a state of anxiety.

Because while you can't ever control other people and things—the external world—you are always the boss of your internal world.

Here's the three things we can control that can make a massive change in your life and the life of others

So, the first thing you can control if you want to manage yourself under pressure is your focus.

Your focus is where your attention is going. If you think it's not important, imagine your attention span is like a radio bandwidth and there are 100 different stations you can pay attention to.

One station is called What's Happening In The World That Sucks Right Now FM. A lot of people tune into that but there's other stations on at the same time. There's Be Grateful For What We Have. All The Things That Will Blow You Away. Things You Did Really Well Today. Oh, and All The Ways You're Not Enough.

Whichever station you tune into, whatever message you focus on, is where your energy will go.

The key? You always have the choice about which station to tune into.

Where we focus makes a massive difference about how we feel internally. If we're always paying attention to what's not enough, what's going wrong, we don't focus on how we can succeed and grow and make a difference.

I'm not saying we find a silver lining in everything but a very powerful practice is to know the stories you tell yourself are in your control, and to ask yourself is, 'Where am I focusing right now?'

Number two is the meaning we place on the things we focus on.

The world is meaningless until we place meaning on it. We create the meaning we experience over and over again. It's always fascinating when I'm running a virtual training for hundreds of people and I ask one question, 'What does love mean to you?'

Almost everyone has a different answer. For some, love is everything, or it's challenging, or it's something held within your heart, or it's scary or something you experience with your family.

So is love universal or is it the meaning we place on it that comes from us? We're in control of the meaning we place on everything. It's in our hands, and we get to choose if it's positive or negative.

The third way to manage yourself under pressure is to take action.

The biggest mistake people make is they are wishing and hoping for something in their life to change. They're not willing to do something about it.

One thing I live by is that you don't alway have to take massive action. There's a time and a place for that, but it can freak a lot of people out and that leads to a whole bunch of anxiety.

Her's how to handle that: say you have a goal of experiencing more peace. Ask yourself, 'What's one thing I can do today?' Just one. Work it out and do it.

Take action.

So everyone is in control of their stuff. That includes you. In changing times and when you're under pressure, take internal responsibility.

Control your focus. Control your meaning. Control your actions.

If this is something that interests you, I'd love you to join me at TCI's global coaching summit 'How To Become A Relationship Coach' on August 1.

It could be the ultimate journey towards your heart and the heart of others.

Matt Lavars is one of Australia's leading coaches, trainers and speakers, and head facilitator at The Coaching Institute. In between mentoring thousands of coaches and leaders all around Australasia and helping others build incredible culture, Matt is passionate about fitness and music. His healthy office lunches whipped up in five minutes are the stuff of legend.

Matt Lavars
Matt LavarsThe Coaching Institute