Merge's Blog

How to maintain your composure? Do math!

We’ve all had the experience of saying or doing something in the heat of the moment that we’ve regretted later. And in a professional environment, its consequences can carry serious negative repercussions to both career and business success. Even one inappropriate emotional outburst can tarnish your reputation for years to come. So it’s worthwhile knowing how to stay composed, positive and unflappable even in trying moments, and learning how to think clearly and stay focused under pressure. In previous blog posts addressing this subject, I’ve offered two ideas:

Identify your main triggers

Know that your actions will control the outcome of any situation

DoingMathHere is one more: do math! Yes, I know it sounds silly, but it’s actually VERY effective. When you’re facing stressful or difficult circumstances, the emotional centre of your brain (known as the amygdala) takes over. Math however is a logical activity which takes place in your neo-cortex, a separate part of your brain. By doing a math problem in your head, you will engage the logical neo-cortex of your brain and overcome the emotions centred in the amygdala. So make up a complicated math problem– 817 times 19, or 1152 divided by 8 – anything, it doesn’t matter what the actual numbers are, only that you have a math problem and that you try to work it out. It doesn’t even matter if you get the answer correct; it’s the action of trying to work it out in your head that will engage your logical brain. This technique is very effective at moving your brain from the amygdala which is emotion, to your neo-cortex which is logic, comprehension and decision-making. By forcing your brain to switch gears, you disengage the emotional response in the amygdala, and you force yourself to become more logical. As odd as this method sounds, don’t discount it until you try it. It really is very effective!

So … what about you? What methods do you use to maintain greater self-control when you are facing stressful or difficult circumstances? Please share by clicking on the Comments link below.

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