Performance hacks for more serenity

vom 10. February 2018

Actors have long been able to do what the Navy Seals do!

Stories are circulating on the net about the four “tricks” with which the Navy Seals of the US Army train themselves, apart from physically and on their weapons. I have searched for original sources and unfortunately have not found them yet.

I don’t care, because I find these stories very plausible! Because actors use similar techniques.

Some remain capable of acting in real, threatening and extreme situations by using the techniques to keep a clear head, while others use theirs to ensure that they lose their mind in a controlled manner in order to appear credible and truthful in an extreme – but invented – situation.

Acting techniques are nothing more than self-control techniques and, especially when a challenging situation persists over a longer period of time, are probably even a bit more effective than those of the Navy Seals …

The four “tricks” are:

  1. positive self-talk
  2. Breathing
  3. Imagination
  4. a positive goal

And since actors do exactly the same thing as the tough guys – just the other way around – you don’t need the secret Navy Seals technique. You can use the well-documented and constantly optimized techniques of actors, which have been tried and tested for almost two centuries, to achieve the same thing.

How? I’ll show you step by step in 4 articles. Each article is a new tool to help you get through your day. If you don’t want to wait and want to learn all 4 tricks at once, then take a look at my blog. You can find the links in the list of tricks a little further up in this article. These are older articles that I have reworked for the special situation we all find ourselves in and put them here on LinkedIn.

And today it’s about:

Positive self-talk!

One of the techniques used by American soldiers to get mentally fit is “positive self-talk”. It would also be a damned hindrance on a mission, for example the one in which Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in 2011, to talk so badly about oneself, as many of us unfortunately do far too often in everyday life.

When one of the helicopters almost crashed in Pakistan, it wouldn’t have helped anyone if the pilot had spoken to himself – loudly or quietly – as we all often do as soon as we catch ourselves making a mistake: “Oh man, of course it’s going to happen to me again! I’m really so stupid! How could I have been so stupid and not checked this one thing twice! You see, you idiot, now the helicopter is taxiing and we’re about to crash into the mountain next to the Bin Laden villa. You can see where your carelessness and superficiality leads: killing your own people and thwarting the mission! You can’t do anything right!”

I am very sure that the boys do NOT allow themselves to have such conversations!

Unfortunately, such self-talk is the order of the day for most people and our brains work in a very similar way to our muscles. The muscle or specific area of the brain that we use the most always grows. This means that most people have trained negative self-talk very well!

With my muscles, intensive isolated training of one muscle group is not life-threatening. If I train my leg muscles, I can still use my fingers, arms and shoulders for typing here at the computer.

Unfortunately, my brain is different!

The area that I have trained particularly well is unfortunately the first one I use in an extreme challenge. No matter what my requirements are. My (and your) brain basically simplifies all processes and procedures. Anything else would be far too complex and, above all, would require much more energy. This means that no matter what I have to deal with mentally at the moment (preventing the helicopter crash or coping in the home office when the children are fighting next door), I always react with the area of my brain that is best trained!

So if I often engage in negative self-talk, it is very likely that I will react with negative thoughts first, even in challenging situations. And these then shape both my further perception and interpretation of the situation, as well as my options for action and my effect on my counterpart.

Actors have been using this for a long time

Around 1880, Konstantin Stanislavski was the first to begin researching and systematizing actors’ tools in order to teach them. He, and many after him, set themselves the goal of being able to reliably and truthfully produce emotions that would be indistinguishable from the “real” ones. Even and especially when it comes to terrible and frightening feelings. People just don’t like to get involved with such feelings on purpose. We have solid and well-functioning defenses. That’s why actors learn to control these feelings. And you can use clearly defined “negative self-talk” for this, for example. Actors call this subtext and it works reliably!

And what are you going to do with it now?

1. perceive your thoughts!

That’s where it all begins!

Be curious about your thoughts, observe exactly which ones come first. And if these thoughts are negative, then don’t continue with them by berating yourself for them. “Oh no, I’m so stupid. Now I’ve thought that shit again!” It might sound something like this at the beginning when you are practicing to get a grip on your negative self-talk.

More target-oriented is: “SUPER! Caught another one: Strike!”

Be happy about every negative thought you uncover!

Being happy when you uncover a negative thought is a small step towards change and positive and supportive self-talk. And it is with small steps like these that you can best soften and soften the deep grooves that your negative thoughts have left in your brain.

2. then start systematically supporting yourself!

Encourage yourself:

“Oh yes! I’m good at that. I’m really damn good at it!”

“Come on, I’ll try it again, I’ll get the hang of it, I know it! I can do it!”

How? You think that’s silly? Oh! And: “Oh no, what kind of idiot are you? How can you be so stupid!” sounds perfectly reasonable to you?

Certainly not! Here is a small change of perspective:

What would you say to a good friend if you found out that she was treating herself like this?


Just do for yourself what you would do for any of your friends: Encourage yourself! Speak well to yourself!

As I said, in drama this is called subtext. That’s what’s not in the book, but between the lines. The text, the dialog is said, but the subtext is relevant for credibility.

Build positive subtexts and train yourself in everyday life to motivate yourself positively, then you will also succeed in the next challenge!

In the next article, I’ll tell you how you can physically help yourself to control your thoughts!

Until then, have fun practicing! I am very happy when you write to me about how you have been doing with your positive self-talk. Or maybe even what you do and what helps you when you are preparing for these particularly challenging times… 😉

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