There is a lot of pressure right now. You’ll find yourself in situations with a lot of pressure more often than not, despite pandemics. Life is a series of decisions and decisions are impacted by how much pressure you’re put under. Living a better life comes down to making better decisions. So, how do you think better under pressure?
To put it in a sentence: to think better under pressure, you must remain organized and disciplined.
That will be the theme that repeats itself in the following points:
To think better under pressure, recognize that with the right conditions anyone’s thinking will suffer. The best way to think better under pressure is to be proactive by controlling what you can control, knowing what you can’t, and knowing the difference.
Rushing increases your heart rate and breathing rate, these both lead to higher levels of stress. Higher stress causes an emotional response in the brain. A higher emotional response in the brain leads to less logical ability in the brain. There is no need to think about how to prepare for an upcoming exam if a tiger is jumping out at you.
The tiger may come in the form of an urgent deadline. The key lies in your ability to remain in a predominately logical state when under pressure. The natural response will not be slowing down, but instead, to fight or flee. Therefore, it requires practice to think better under pressure.
Just like training for game-day requires practices that mimic game-day scenarios as best as possible, so too does thinking well under pressure require practicing having to think under pressure.
But, if a fire is hot enough, it can distract anyone away from a logical state of mind. So here are a few ways to reduce how hot that fire is.
Problems get worse as they go downstream.
Be proactive to think better under pressure.
Avoid downstream efforts. Focus on upstream efforts.
When a fire is in our face, we will focus intently on putting that fire out. We will not be thinking about what we should grab from the store for dinner this weekend. This is thanks to the emphasis of survival by the brain.
If you’re at the point where a problem needs immediate addressing, then you failed to address the problem upstream. Downstream problems are immediate, they are what require a “hero” to solve. Downstream actions are reactive, while upstream actions are proactive.
Get ahead of the problem by:
Addressing problems upstream will prevent fires from occurring. The fewer fires you have to worry about, the more you can focus on them when they arise. You then have more time to reflect on the occasional fire and therefore learn what went wrong to prevent the next fire.
Get ahead of the problem. Fires will still come up, but less frequently. You will think better under pressure when you don’t have constant fires to put out. Each new fire will be able to get your full attention and there will be time to put in prevention measures.
Orienting means to remove distraction. Set up your environment for success. The more you can organize your environment for success, the more you will think better under pressure.
Thinking is a subtle process. It doesn’t require a lot of effort. In fact, your best ideas likely have come out of times when you felt as if you weren’t putting any effort in at all. There is a very subtle interplay between focusing and relaxing that goes into thinking better under pressure.
The subconscious part of the mind makes the majority of our thinking processes, it is also the part that evolution has had the most time to work on. You can be lower on the conscious totem pole (e.g. a mouse) and the brain still govern your behavior in an intelligent manner. Breathing is kept regular, healing processes occur, etc.
You tap into your subconscious by quieting your mind. Thoughts in the form of words are very noisy. Meditation is a great way to practice recognizing and quieting this noise. Journaling is great at making you aware of what thoughts might be there but unnoticeable.
A quieter mind leads to the same circumstances that allowed for those big ideas while you were relaxed in the shower.
You can think better under pressure by paying attention to these subtleties. Thinking should not be forced. The stereotypical “genius” is the one who is relaxed and feels in control, they trust their mind to come up with answers, they don’t add additional pressure on to themselves.
Thank you for reading!
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Created By: Brandon