There’s been plenty of times I’d be fuming on the inside, so annoyed with my partner. My inner dialog judgey and negative. I wasn’t seeing him as the love of my life but as something to brace against. My mental fitness needed some improvement.
What’s awesome is that I don’t do that anymore!
Now I see all his quirks with love and compassion. I don’t take things personally (not often at least). And the result is a much more meaningful, loving and connected relationship. For a long time, that’s something I didn’t believe I was capable or deserving of.
Do you know what it’s like when you love and care for someone, but you’re so annoyed with everything they do? Or maybe there’s someone at work that grates on your nerves. In your head you’re telling yourself all the ways they’re bad/wrong and the energy between you is out of harmony.
Just like it’s important to work on your physical fitness for a happy, healthy life – it’s just as important to work on your mental fitness if you want to enjoy your relational life.
Mental fitness: Is your capacity to respond to life’s challenges with a positive rather than negative mindset
The impact is a calm mind and body and better personal and professional relationships.
One of the simplest frameworks I’ve used to reflect on my triggers and change my unhelpful patterns is the Positive Intelligence (PQ for short) research and framework by Shirzad Chamine.
This simple Mental Fitness framework takes big concepts in neuroscience, positive psychology, cognitive behavioral psychology and performance science, plus Shirzad’s research, and breaks them down into a set of tools that are easy to understand and implement for better productivity, overall well-being and happy relationships. Learn the process once and use it over and over for a lifetime of problem solving and better social connections.
What his research discovered is that there are only 3 muscles that you need to grow in order to enhance your mental fitness. He calls these muscles:
- The Saboteur Interceptor Muscle
- The Sage Muscle
- The Self-Command Muscle
The research also identifies 10 Inner Saboteurs that all people struggle with in varying degrees, and 5 Sage Powers that can help to transform a negative mindset into positive.
The Saboteur Interceptor Mental Muscle
Here’s some brain science basics: When we’re triggered into a negative emotion or reaction (inner Saboteurs), we are in the brainstem, limbic system and parts of the left brain. Alternatively, when we are feeling good and able to respond rationally (inner Sage), we are in the middle prefrontal cortex, empathy circuitry and parts of the right brain.
What’s great about this is we can command the brain to switch to the Sage brain so we respond positively to challenges vs reacting in a way we might regret later.
The first step to intercepting the Saboteurs in your head is to know what they are. That’s where my Saboteur Guide comes in…
The Sage Mental Muscle
To build your Sage Muscle you learn to approach life from the Sage Perspective: Every outcome or circumstance can be turned into a gift and opportunity.
There is much more to the Sage Muscle but for now I’ll say that you’re working this muscle when you feel positive emotions and problem solve from those more elevated feelings.
The Self-Command Mental Muscle
In the PQ framework you use PQ Reps – similar to mindfulness practices – in order to command the mind back into Sage mode. When your negative thoughts have you in the past or future, PQ Reps focus your attention on the body’s five senses to bring you back to the present moment where you have more control of your reactions.
The Beauty of this System is the Simplicity
- If you’re feeling negative emotions, STOP. You’re in Saboteur mode.
- Do some PQ Reps to quiet Saboteurs and activate your Sage.
- Assume the Sage Perspective – that every problem can be converted into a gift & opportunity.
- Generate the gift by using the Sage powers like empathy, curiosity, creativity, and calm, clear-headed action.
Shirzad’s research also discovered that building these mental muscles takes intense initial practice of 15-minutes per day for 6-8 weeks. That’s it! And just like building muscles at the gym once you’ve grown these mental muscles regular sustained practice keeps them from shrinking.
Over the last 8 months I’ve been learning this framework for myself and then learning how to support my clients through this process.
The clients I’ve guided through this process have expressed really great benefits and results including more confidence, more awareness of hidden patterns that block deeper connections with loved ones and less procrastination.
Back to my story about the uncontrolled negativity I had toward my partner. Truth is, we were at a much more loving place well before I started learning about the PQ framework. We spent years and significant financial investments working on ourselves and our relationship. I believe that if we had the PQ framework years ago it could have shortened our journey back to open-hearted love. We have however started using the language of PQ and it is proving to be a great additional tool in our communication/connection toolbox.
I’m so excited about the possibilities of this work for you. This is foundational work that will help you see and transform patterns in every area of your life.
I’m particularly passionate about how this work can support better relationships because our world is in dire need of less division and more meaningful, compassionate connections.
Stay tuned for more about the program I’m launching in mid-January. In the meantime, download the Saboteur Guide and take the Assessment to learn all about the ways you’re sabotaging your success in life and love.