Mastering Your Mind: How to Stay Calm and Collected

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Do you get upset over the little things that really mean nothing in the big scheme of things?

The solution is pausing, taking a step back to look at the situation, and then deciding how you want to respond instead of reacting emotionally.

We all tend to jump to conclusions based on our unique experiences, it’s akin to a reflex—something that happens automatically without thought. It’s a lazy way to make conversation and bond with people, and I’m totally guilty of this myself.

RAFT is something I use for myself and my clients to focus thoughts on the present moment.

In the beginning, it will indeed take more effort to establish this mental habit. You will have to make a conscious choice to steer the conversation away from an emotionally charged visceral reaction. But as with any habit—new conversation and coping skills take hold with practice.

Working through the RAFT steps will help to establish new mental patterns for slowing the thoughts. This will guide us through the constructs of our beautiful mind, our perceptions, emotions, and direct our attention to the present moment.

It creates that space we need to pause that monkey mind and connect to the present moment. The more aware we are of our thoughts, the less we operate on autopilot. This is fucking genius, my friends. It makes us more aware humans and allows us to make a conscious choice that will support our larger goals and values.

This method has absolutely nothing to do with other people and if they are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. You will have to drop your ego at the front door for this to be effective. It has nothing to do with other humans’ beliefs or actions and their validity or correctness. This piece is important to remember because most of us will get stuck here.

RAFT is more about accepting others’ reactions as something outside of our control and slowing our minds—so we can respond to their reaction with wisdom and empathy.

Practicing RAFT:

Relax and Recognize—Observe. Notice the stimulus. Recognizing what is going on inside of you allows you to slow the fuck down and check in with your thoughts. The foundation of understanding begins with the realization that there is something present to attend to. This is admittedly the hardest step, but the identification of the cue is necessary in changing any habit.

Allow—Learn not to push away what is. This is all about the acceptance of what is and understanding that an experience cannot be controlled or changed from what is the current reality. When we reject or deny what is happening in the moment because we want things to be different—we do not accept what is happening and this leads to repression or anger. Attempting to control things that are beyond our control is a fight you’ll never win, my friends.

Feeling—How are the emotions and reactions manifesting in your body in this moment? Allow the feeling of what is happening in your body. Open yourself to the emotion and sensations. The body is always in the present moment, and it only reveals what is already occurring. Tuning into feelings is one way we can accurately assess the quality of our personal awareness. How am I showing up for myself? Alert and empathetic, or impatient and anxious? The way I attend to my experience matters. Feelings are just feelings and don’t dictate our responses. Feelings are fleeting.

Teasing Apart—Notice the difference between your thoughts and this present moment. Thoughts will come and go. They come like visitors, and learning to trust that they do leave. Focusing on the fact that we have had many things that we have overreacted to in the past and later found that it was an unnecessary reaction. Teasing apart these thoughts supports us in letting go of contraction, or trying to control situations outside of ourselves—and helps to ease chronic self-defensiveness. Acknowledgment that our life is constantly changing and that disappointments and challenges happen to all humans. Change is a natural process of life that we cannot fight.

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