Hi everyone, welcome to my podcast, "Jing Lens." I'm currently undergoing intense inner scrutiny to feel valid in addressing this topic. It hit me at some point that I will never reach that perpetual state of calm to offer a strategy that works once and for all, because essentially it conflicts with the ever-changing nature of our emotions, feelings, and even life itself. Not to say I surrender, but more like embracing the fact that we will always have those moments out of alignment, not feeling on top of that day. The best we can do is to have a certain level of awareness to process our emotional spiral, and then develop practical tools or shift mindsets more nimbly over time to navigate through it. As much as I would love to sustain a consistent state of calm without losing at all (the chance is that even externally, you look like you pull everything off but you still have to deal with your internal turmoil). I just feel it’s much more realistic, grounded, and relatable for majority of us to aim at both remaining and regaining calm.
So why does calm matter? First, I'd like to share some features that a calm person often exhibits, based on my observations. In the context of the workplace, I've come across a few colleagues who perfectly fit the paradigm of calmness. Conversations with them are always effortless, smooth, and centred on solutions. What I find distinctive is their gentle tone and measured speech that ground the conversation. I further found that calm people better empathy with others through active listening, offering constructive feedback, and collaborating to resolve problems. This calming energy also translates to others, putting everyone operate at greater ease and creating an environment of trust. I also feel that when I gravitate towards a calm person, trust organically emerges in the process. Particularly in a stressful situation, the group dynamic is instrumental in moving things forward. Calmness steers us on the right track of discussion and execution, as opposed to going off-focus or derailing along the way.
On a personal level, it's one of the traits (I may call it) that profoundly impacts our relationship-building and individual well-being. In social interactions, it can be very time-sensitive to either vibe with another or feel otherwise, right? Often intuition plays a big part, but calming energy will be seen as an attraction point in general, just like a sense of humor, kindness, etc. A calming presence is often magnetic, like a breath of fresh air, exuding soothing and healing vibes that make another person feel at ease, comfortable, and even safe to open up their heart as opposed to feeling like they're walking or 'talking' on eggshells. This further leads to the development of trust and genuine connections. Speaking of trust, there's this beautiful dance between calmness and trust. Have you ever notice how these serene folks handle situations? They don't react like a firecracker – they respond with thoughtfulness. It's like they've got a backstage pass to the theater of their minds, always processing before jumping into action. I'd also like to dig into the dynamic relationship between calm and trust. Often, a calm person tends to respond to situations rather than reacting impulsively. Of course, we can't visually see a person’s thought process or any internal activity, but we can discern their genuine intentions through logical reasoning and articulation. You can tell that it makes sense. Our brains collect enough evidence to make the judgment call that this person is trustworthy. If it's a working relationship, it often leads to problem resolution; if it's personal, like a friendship, for sure that person becomes an accountable figure as a mentor and cheerleader in your life.
Here's just a little addition about body language. This isn't about passing judgment on anyone, but rather recognizing that we are all writing hidden scripts for others (even just unconsciously). Referring back to tone and pace in a person's speaking, body language, particularly facial expressions, these nuanced elements on another micro-level also heavily contribute to our secret screenwriting. Our sensitivity can detect these subtleties through shifts in gestures and facial expressions, which lead us to score a person’s calm level. Calm is an internal emotional status that reflects in our external body presence. We talk so much about how the body and mind work together these days. I feel it validates the very topic I'm addressing today. Our emotional status influences our thought processes, our ability to communicate effectively, and how we project ourselves through bodily movements. Body language may be a subtle indicator of a person’s calmness level, but later I will detail how it can be a primary tool to reclaim our calmness.
In terms of well-being, we've all made decisions on the spur of the moment, and almost always we regret later. To some extent, I feel we humans are conditioned to lose calm and react to intense or conflicting situations. Maybe it's a coping mechanism or survival mode kicking in. We find ourselves raising our voices, looking anxious, and getting aggressive. But the consequences are detrimental not only to the result of the matter but also to our mental health. From my experiences, I've learned that the initial step towards resolving any issues is to regain self-calming. This allows us to better understand the nature of the problem and focus on its core. To illustrate with a personal experience at work: English is not my first language. I thought I had already moved beyond the struggles with the language itself. However, when caught up in the moment, I found it difficult to organize my thoughts and put my words together – let alone articulating them. I realized that the language barrier still exists, and this was particularly pronounced when my emotions were heightened. In this scenario, regaining a sense of calm isn't just a personal attribute, but an essential skill for effectively performing my job.
Now that we've identified some key characteristics of calmness and understood why it's crucial, let's delve into the specifics of how to both maintain and recapture a sense of calmness.
1:It all begins with awareness, which serves as the foundation for developing any mindset and tool. Nurturing self-awareness is a process that leads to a better understanding of ourselves. The older I get, the more I realize that I haven't truly known myself as well as I assumed. It often took both positive and negative experiences to identify our triggers and underlying factors that disrupt our calmness, causing emotions like fear, anxiety, and rumination. You can't simply command yourself to remain calm and expect it to happen. Instead, we often go through challenging and confronting transition processes (which may require shifting mindsets and reframing perspectives) to reclaim a sense of calm. What guides us through the process is our past experiences (positive or negative). But I also want to reassure you that even if it takes a longer time to make that reclaim, it's okay. Don't beat yourself up for that. You just need to practice getting better next time. When we attain a certain level of awareness, we will be less likely to react impulsively. This brings me to one of my key strategies: responding instead of reacting. When you feel about losing it, it may seem very counterintuitive, but please try pressing that pause button, taking a deep breath, and even adopting a momentary avoidance approach. This is far more effective than reacting on the spot. When we react, we don’t spend time unpacking the situation but let emotion rule our thoughts and dictate actions. Circling back to self-awareness, I will never say I know myself 100% as long as I keep evolving. Given that part of our emotional triggers remain unknown, it's necessary to slow down and grant ourselves the time to analyse and process the unfolding events. Self-awareness and calm work hand in hand in many ways. It probably would be like: we are aware that something is about to get on our nerves, so we hold on to our urge not to react emotionally or physically. This is often the most struggling stage, but we have to trust that all types of emotions are ever-changing. I know this may sound slightly passive-aggressive, but sometimes, we don't have to do anything but just emote through it, feeling those conflicting pieces and allowing time to process it. This approach eventually invites calmness back, so we are emotionally equipped to move into problem-solving.
After years of personal growth, I've sensed revolutionary progress in my emotional maturity and awareness. But it still can't and shouldn't reverse or alter the inherent nature of our emotions, which are ever-evolving, ever-changing, and fluid. But my experience has taught me that all emotions are equally important experiences, including those moments when we feel out of alignment. The key is to trust our ability to realign ourselves. It's bloody hard to resist that urge not to react at the moment, but again, awareness is a game-changer. We also learned through hard lessons. I can say this for sure: Reacting rarely leads to anywhere positive but exacerbates the situation. Only make it worse. In addition to the slightly passive-aggressive approach I mentioned earlier, here come some practical tricks and tips to recall calm: distract ourselves with other tasks. In the work context, we can shift to working on tasks that are more likely to generate desirable outcomes, infusing us with positive energy. We can then come back to translate that energy to tackle problems that cause our emotional distress.
2: A patient or positive mindset is also a key that helps me remain calm. I had a big honour to interview an empowering lady Chloe on my another podcast ' Life Designer' a year ago. Her insights into positive thinking have stayed with me to this day. She said after turning 30, she no longer experiences the same level of anxiety she used to because deep down, she's confident that she'll overcome obstacles and reach her goals. I'd encourage you to listen to the episode if you're interested. I do factor age into our emotional growth. Age does play a role in our emotional growth. Our brain needs evidence to respond to new situations. I've found regular reflection useful in helping us accumulate evidence and references, guiding us through whatever problems lie ahead. As we accumulate more experiences over time, whether positive or negative, we can reassure ourselves during overwhelming moments that things will be okay. With each instance of "it did get better," our brains gradually shift toward a belief system that things will indeed be okay. This patience about outcomes helps us slow down and find calmness. In today's fast-paced world, people are eager to see results in the blink of an eye, but life has taught us that everything is a process; even seemingly trivial tasks like paying bills can take a few days. I've turned "it's gonna be okay" into my mantra. Patients also extend our calmness span, as we put everything in perspective, aligning each step with an ultimate vision in mind. I once came across a podcast episode that mentioned it often takes around five years to complete a significant project, whether personal or professional. At a certain point, you'll realize that anything worth doing is challenging. We may not sustain a constent state of calmness every second, but patience sustains us emotionally at the deepest level toward the end goal.
3: Now I want to circle back to the body movement piece associated with my personal experience. The body and mind are profoundly connected and mutually support each other. Let's interpret these two pieces as friendship. When one person approaches a friend for comfort and help, the response is expected to be prompt, gentle, and compassionate, right? When our mind runs into a bit of a spiral, we may want to turn to our body for comfort. we may take deep breaths and lean into activities that calm our minds down (I should say). I would like to call it a 'separation technique to deal with acute pain lol. It's a method of dealing with sudden emotional distress. This method contrasts with the approach we mentioned earlier in a conflict situation, where we make a pause to not react. It could be one of those mundane afternoons, uneventful but supposed to be peaceful. All of a sudden, that anxious feeling subtly sweeps in. It triggers my nerves, alerting me to take immediate action before it intensifies and takes over, just like the way we respond to acute pain. My body quickly responds by reaching for calming foods (like cucumber and blueberries, part of my daily routine) or heading outdoors. If conditions permit, nature is the best remedy. While a bedroom is good for resting emotions, it's not the ideal place to process them.
I'd like to share another source that calms me personally. Music and exercise are two major consistent sources of camlness in my life. Music works on me more naturally (my emotional system just echoes with it spontaneously from a very early age). But exercise came into my life as second nature. It took me a few years to turn it into a built-in habit. I made a podcast episode about this journey, feel free to check out this episode if you are interested. My point is you may want to explore more options when it comes to strategy-building. The reality is sometimes you may not feel up to hitting the gym, but you can nimbly shift to walking to a park and feeling breathing again. The more tools you prepare, the more quickly you will get back to a state of alignment. I rekindled my sparkles for interior design last year because of my home project. I am taking an interior design course this year and carefully nurturing this small but new joy. Guess what? I found myself a new sanctuary to contain my calm when I watched interior design videos, the local project, AD, etc. I may always operate under a bit of a scarcity mentality when it comes to means and tools. I think it's healthy in the sense that we embrace the fact that we are deepening our understanding of our emotions over time, and so is our coping mechanism. In different contexts and situations, we can respond, not react, with awareness, patience, and self-compassion. Finally, coming to an end, if I'm being honest, I almost lost my calm in the process of writing this piece lol. I consistently re-evaluate my content, and revise my structure to feel the words coming from within. It has to come from a place where I feel as authentic, valid, and precise as it could be at this given time before I feel compelled to share it. Now I feel not only calm but also a sense of content by pulling this off. So my last piece of advice boils down to taking action, which is a fundamental way to reconcile with our negative emotions underneath. Sharing and exchanging what works for us individually can create a collective support system for everyone on this journey, I believe.
Let me know what brings you calm if you feel like sharing. Thank you for listening to my podcast. See you next time.