Smooth Under Fire

Staying calm under fire is a valuable skill in any situation where you are facing high levels of stress or pressure. Whether it’s a high-stakes meeting at work, a confrontation with a difficult person or a crisis, staying calm can help you think clearly and make better decisions. Here are a few tips to help you stay calm under fire:

  • Take deep breaths: When you’re under pressure, it’s common to take shallow breaths or even hold your breath. As a result, you will feel anxious or panicked. Instead, try taking deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth. Help slow down your heart rate and relax your body.
  • Please focus on the present moment: When you’re under fire, it’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts about the past or the future. Making you feel overwhelmed or anxious. So instead, focus on the present moment and what you can do to address the situation.
  • Take a break: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be helpful to take a short break to clear your mind. Step away from the situation and take a few minutes to do something calming, like going for a walk or listening to music.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: You can use many relaxation techniques to help you stay calm under fire. These include mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or deep breathing exercises. Practice these techniques regularly to call upon them when you need them most.
  • Seek support: It’s okay to ask for help or support when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Talk to a friend or family member about what you’re going through, or consider seeking support from a mental health professional.
  • Create a mental plan: A plan can help you feel more in control of the situation and less overwhelmed. Take a few minutes to consider what steps you can take to address the problem. For example, involve brainstorming potential solutions, making a list of tasks that need to be completed, or setting goals for yourself.
  • Use positive self-talk: When you’re under fire, it’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts and self-doubt. Instead, focus on the positive and remind yourself of your strengths and abilities. Use positive self-talk to boost your confidence and help you stay calm.
  • Practice gratitude: Focusing on what you are grateful for can help you stay calm and maintain perspective. Take a moment to think about the things in your life that bring you joy and gratitude, and remind yourself of these things when you’re feeling stressed.
  • Stay hydrated: Dehydration can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated and help you stay calm.
  • Seek out sources of calm: Surrounding yourself with calming influences can help you stay calm under fire. Including listening to soothing music, spending time in nature, or engaging in activities that you find relaxing, such as yoga.

Following these tips teaches you to stay calm under fire and better handle stressful situations. Remember to take care of yourself and prioritize your well-being in times of stress.

photo of woman leaning on wooden table while looking upset
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Box Breathing

Box breathing, also known as square breathing or four-square breathing, is a simple relaxation technique that can help to reduce stress and improve overall physical and mental health. It involves inhaling and exhaling deeply, using a specific pattern to regulate the breath.

Some potential benefits of box breathing include:

Reducing stress and anxiety: By focusing on the breath, box breathing can help to calm the mind and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Improving sleep: The deep breathing involved in box breathing can help to relax the body and mind, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Enhancing concentration and focus: The rhythmic pattern of box breathing can help to improve concentration and focus, making it a valuable tool for athletes, students, and others who need to stay focused and mentally sharp.

Supporting respiratory health: Deep breathing can help expand the lungs and improve oxygen circulation throughout the body, supporting respiratory health.

Enhancing overall well-being: By reducing stress and improving sleep, concentration, and respiratory health, box breathing can help to enhance overall physical and mental well-being.

Overall, box breathing is a simple and effective relaxation technique with many physical and mental health benefits.

To practice box breathing, follow these steps:

  • Find a comfortable position with your back straight and your feet planted firmly on the ground.
  • Place your hands on your stomach, and take a deep breath through your nose, allowing your stomach to expand as you inhale.
  • Hold your breath for a count of four.
  • Slowly exhale through your mouth, allowing your stomach to contract as you exhale.
  • Hold your breath for a count of four.
  • Repeat the inhaling, holding, exhaling, and holding cycle for four counts each.
  • Continue for several minutes, focusing on the breath and the rhythmic pattern of inhaling, holding, exhaling, and holding.

You can also try adding visualization to your box breathing practice. For example, you can imagine inhaling calm and exhaling stress with each breath. Or, you can imagine a square, with each side representing one part of the breath cycle (inhale, hold, exhale, hold).

Remember to breathe deeply and slowly, allowing the breath to fill your lungs and expand your stomach. And, as with any relaxation technique, be patient and allow yourself time to get used to the practice. With regular practice, box breathing can be a powerful tool for reducing stress and improving overall well-being.

a woman in gray sports bra meditating with her hands together
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Take Your Life Back

How can life continually kick you in the gut, yet you still get up and fight?

How can life jerk the rug right out from under you, and yet you still get up and fight?

How can nothing seem to go right most of the time, and you still get up and fight?

How can you feel abandoned by God and still get up and fight?

Are you the person that fights?

People quit because they do not have a fight left in them, so THEY think! Emotionally we are all stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

“Self-acknowledgment boosts your emotional and spiritual immunity, giving you the strength, you need to release the past and rise above fear, doubt, or resignation.”—Debbie Ford

Two years ago, I took life head-on. With no emotional place to go but up, it was time to take the hits, take the pain, take the sorrow, and say NO more.

When you want to change your life, achieve more than you ever have. You need to be ready to take whatever life can throw at you, breakthrough prepared for more. When I speak of achievement, this is not about work success, this is YOU success.

Nothing in this life will come to you if you are not prepared. Emotionally prepared to never allow life to overtake your self-worth.

No more pity parties, “I can’t take it, it is too hard!” Horsefeathers!

Let me give you a little secret I have learned along the way. When you begin to awaken the you that you want to be. The person that makes all your dreams come true. You also awaken the enemy who says, “Oh NO, you don’t, I had you in the pits of hell on earth and that is where you stay.” So, the battle begins!

Life, hope, happy

You will be tested; the enemy will fill your head with garbage. Keep you busy chasing your own tale. Kicking your own ass. This is when YOU SAY, “Oh Hell. No, this is my time.”

This will help you strengthen yourself:

  1. Pray. Find times every day to share your innermost thoughts with God. The good, the bad and the ugly. Get it out. All we ask for is wisdom to resolve!
  2. Meditation. Daily get yourself in a routine of reflection. This is where we go to see ourselves in that place of joy, happiness, and peace.
  3. Journal your day. Learn the difference between activity and productivity. Success comes about when productivity dominates our days. Set specific times to achieve tasks every day that lead to a tangible result. Set up your day hour-to-hour. At first, this will be a pain in the butt. Over time it becomes second nature.
  4. Breathe. As much as needed, take a moment to breathe. Slow yourself down when your head begins to muddle up with garbage. Box breathing is a beautiful way to calm down. Easy to do: Take a couple cleansing breaths in through the nose out through the mouth. Then on a slow 4 count breath in and hold 4, breathe out on a 4 count, begin the same rhythm again. Do this a couple of times; if relaxed your good. If not a couple more times.
  5. Remember a calm mind, is productive, creative, and happy. This is where you will draw your greatest strength.

Do not give up when things get tough. Misery loves company. Do not let the enemy put in your head you can not change, YES you can!

The reason I know change is possible:

  • Great athletes train, train, and train more. You do not pick up a golf club walk onto a tee box with Tiger Woods and expect to win a game. You do not get on a pair of skis and stand in a start house with Lindsey Vaughn and expect to win a gold medal.

Why you say, why can you not beat them? Simple! Practice they have trained themselves for years to compete at the level of achievement each has attained. You must train, train and train more to win—the same thing with your mind that has decades of garbage stuffed in your mind.

People can change because you do get better when you practice. When you get off your ass and try. Try until you think one more step is impossible and take action.

Nay Sayers can kiss my ass. Let this become your mantra!

Just because lazy asses tell you something is impossible. You do not have the right stuff. Remind them to sit on their ass and hold your beer. Get it done!

I wish I had a shortcut to share. Other than your resolve must be steadfast. When enough-is-enough, you will change. I am!

Time to Take Out the Garbage

Over our lifetimes, we can accumulate a landfill of garbage in our heads. This is garbage that has taken a lifetime to gather. However, it is now time to empty the trash, let’s go learn how!

Let me share the same advice with you that my mother bestowed upon me. “It took you a lifetime to break your life, have the patience to allow change to occur.”

Christian, Faith, Self Improvement

She is right; it has taken a lifetime to accumulate so much trash, it may take a garbage bag or a hundred to empty out our noodle. The good news is a lot of the garbage can be taken out never to return simply because you are ready for change. You are right?

What exactly are we talking about, garbage?

  • Negativity
  • Fear
  • Hopelessness
  • Self-Loathing
  • Depression
  • Addiction

You get the idea!

Let’s plot out an action plan for change:

  1. Make the decision you want to change your life. Whatever it is you feel you need to change, decide that today forward no more. The new you is at hand.
  2. Organize your life so that you can feel like you are achieving something every day.
  3. Learn how to quiet your mind. This will take some practice but will be the most fantastic thing you can do for yourself. Use headphones, find some relaxing meditation music, sounds, rain, etc. Turn off anything that will disturb you and on get somewhere no interruptions! Cannot stress that enough. Learn to relax and quiet your mind. This will open your mind and allow you to just relax.
  4. Let God know what you desire and ask for the wisdom to find what you seek.
  5. Get healthy. Walk to relieve tension in your body. When you’re healthy, you will be less fatigued. Your body will respond better to change.
  6. Find something that is NOT about you. Volunteer and help others. Doing something that benefits others has an incredible cathartic result.
  7. Learn to be thankful right where you are. Let God know every day you love what you have. When you are okay where you are. God will see that you can have more than you are ready for more in your life. Gratitude is a wonderfully blissful peace in your mind.

Don’t overload yourself. Pick a couple of things and do them consistently. We stop change because we overwhelm our brains. Believing we must do all this stuff to get a replacement now. Slow down, and change will come more quickly.

Someone shared with me, “the state of my house is in direct correlation with the state of my mind.” Look around for clutter. Get the clutter out of your life. No, it’s not organized its confusion. Desk, car, home, or office. Organize!

When deciding what your life should look like take the following OUT of the equation:

  • Don’t have the money.
  • Don’t have the time.
  • Don’t have the resources.
  • Don’t have enough education.
  • Too old or too young.

When framing a new life. Do it from the world is your oyster. You have NO obstacles in the way. I can hear some of you, I don’t have money, I don’t have time!

Learn quickly that in life, you can throw up an obstacle to stifle yourself. If you believe in something enough, PUT FORTH THE WORK TO ATTAIN IT. What you need will come to you someway somehow, even when you see NO idea at all.

Give this to God. Let him see you working diligently, stay in faith. You don’t know how, but you know God will make a way.

Hebrews 11:1-6 King James Version (KJV)

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Do everything you can to make your dreams come true. Cannot sit on your duff and expect God to just Miracle a million dollars in your bank. That is called the lottery!

You must condition yourself to release negative thoughts as they enter your mind. This is a pass you need to fumble. Drop the ball, let it go, don’t even try to catch the negative thoughts. Easier said than done, I get it. However, you can acknowledge the idea with a resounding “Delete.”

happy, woman, life

Meditation helps with this. See yourself happy, loved, and doing the life you want. The big difference in having the experience you wish to versus having a life you are stuck with. None of us are stuck, oh, you might think you are, but you are not! That much I am 100% on.

Question or help:

Robert Bruton Author of Ten Christian Self Improvement Books available at Amazon

Fighting Old Habits

“The key to forming good habits is to make them part of your ‘rituals.’ I have a morning ritual, afternoon ritual, and Sunday ritual. It’s one way to bundle good habits into regular times that you set aside to prepare yourself for the life you want. Rituals help you form habits.”—Lewis Howes

With no real easy way to tell you this. Your head is going to be at times, your most formidable adversary. Wanting to stay status quo. Comfortable in misery. So much so you don’t feel the pain at a level like the beginning.

Changes in our lives, new paradigms to replace old thought processes is what is needed now. The past will not give up easily. Prepare yourself for a title fight.

If you’re a Christian, the enemy is preparing an attack like you’ve never fought. Why? He wants you to continue miserable. He hopes that you will implode. As we move further in this chapter, I will share with you how I made it through the toughest times.

self improvement, self help, joy, happiness

The enemy will attack you to keep you down. He is afraid of losing you to an excellent team. So he will fight you in the form of:

  • Depression (not diagnosed or medicated) Just feeling depressed.
  • Keep your mind on past mistakes.
  • I am feeling hopeless.
  • I am reliving the past over-and-over in your head.
  • Dark thoughts of self-harm. (NEVER AN OPTION)

Working through this will be difficult, and you will be tested. You can and will get through this time.

We are making it easier to understand. We all buck change at work. If a policy changes everyone in the office complains. “Why are they changing, the old way worked.”

Let’s say, for example, you’ve done the same thing, the same way for years-and-years. Change won’t come easy. Excuses like:

  • I’m too set in my ways.
  • I’m too old to change now.
  • Too hard f*&^ it.

Don’t fool yourself into these false statements. You can change, you’re not too old, stop limiting yourself!

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”—Nelson Mandela

Allow yourself to change. It won’t happen overnight; I can tell you I still fall into traps; however, I can happily report that the bear traps are further apart.

So how do we bring about real change, especially when confronted with real pain? Here is how I brought myself out of the dark:

  1. Learn to quiet your mind. Declutter all the garbage that goes through our minds. Meditation can be life-changing if you practice daily.
  2. Something that seems innocuous has tremendous value — taking times daily to slow your breathing for sixty seconds only. Slows your pulse, helps relax your body, relieve tension. Tension causes aggravation. Breathing several times per day for a minute or so will slow you down.
  3. Do something physical every day. Walk, gym, run, get off your butt, and do something to relieve stress in your body.
  4. Helping others will get you outside yourself. Reminding you that life is not all about you. Be a blessing to someone!

Changing our lives takes time and work. You can’t all a sudden tell God you want to make a million dollars this year, order a Pizza and wait. Sorry life takes real work.

The most important of this is discipline and organization. Set reminders daily to do the tasks laid out in this book. Otherwise, you wake up a week later and go, “crap, I was supposed to meditate every day.”

If you want lasting and real change, fill your calendar with an activity that fosters change.

You are fighting with yourself. I call it kicking your own ass. Your noodle will run from the pain of change. Your mind is falsely convincing you that you cannot change. It’s too hard. Don’t listen to these false prophecies of your life. Years of conditioning will take time to shake off old paradigms.

At times this will seem relentless the attack on you to stay status quo. The enemy will come at you in ways that look as though you cannot win. You will feel alone, like nothing you can do will ever help. Surrender to God. Let him know that you can’t see a way, but you know he will take away.

When I first moved from my home in South Texas to live in West Texas. My ex-wife wanted a divorce that I honestly at the time did not want a divorce. Financially in dire straits, the woman I believed to be my soulmate now gone.

Could not at the time be in more of a dark place. I had so many times thought I had no reason to live. Scary how close that came to pass. For whatever reason, I never acted on dark thoughts. Thank God I did not.

With some lucid moments of I need to start over. I began to think about life without my wife. I decided I would get into Church and try to understand the spiritual side of my life. I was drawn to this need to find a Church home.

After finding a Church that was recommended to me by someone that I trust, I became a regular attendee, most times staying for two of the three Sunday services. Because my head would clutter with such garbage; I was fighting so hard to hear what the Pastor said; it was exhausting.

Most Church services end with a call to give your life to Jesus Christ. To confess, you’re a sinner and that you accept Jesus as your Lord and savior. For a few weeks, I had faithfully attended sitting mostly in the back of the sanctuary.

One Sunday during this altar call; I raised my hand. The Usher came and gave me a CD, and I confessed and prayed the short prayer to accept Jesus Christ. At the end of this part of the service, the Pastor headed across the stage stopped and turned.

He began to say “sir, sir,” not realizing he was trying to get my attention for a moment. As I realized he was trying to get my attention. Pastor Don said to me God had put in his heart for whatever I was doing artistically to keep going, don’t stop.

Here is the real kicker to the story. I had been blogging, take pictures with my camera and stating to myself that for the last half of my life I was going to do what I wanted to do not what I have to do. I wanted to be a freelance writer and photographer.

Not one person in this Church, including the Pastor, knew me from Adam. I stayed to myself and never said as much as a good morning unless first approached.

No way could the Pastor know that I was doing or working on anything artistically. This Pastor stopped in the middle of the ending of this service to tell me that God told him to say to me, keep doing what I love to do.

To say the very least, I was utterly in shock. It took a bit for this to sink in. Nothing in my life to this point was so profound.

This event helped me to go further and keep trying. Freely I admit stumbling and falling post this event. However, remembering that God has come into my life then and several times since then.

When I thought a couple of times all is lost something would happen to show me that even with a Mustard seed of faith left, God would bless me so that I knew he was still protecting me.

My point of this is even in your darkest moment when you see nothing, but my life is worthless not also worth being here. God if you try, if you fight through when you cannot see anything but dark, let God know you are trying to hold on, God will answer.

Today after many events from small to abundant miracles. God has convinced me that if I focus my faith, he will lead me through anything. Now I run after God.

The old me would not have hung in the darkness to realize the blessing. I would have long before quit and moved on. That is the old paradigms I must break. When enough-is-enough, you will change. My time was when I moved to West Texas, once you make that decision, you will be amazed at how life opens for you!

No matter what happens, you cannot quit. Take one more step, always.

Let me share with you why having patience will serve you well.

The dream job of a lifetime is something that you now focus your attention too — searching far and wide for this wonderful job. Some time goes by with nothing happening, and you cannot see any hope.

What you don’t know is that a beautiful person occupies the job you seek; someone that has had a fantastic career, beloved by all at the job. This person is getting ready to retire; the job will come available for you to apply for and get!

This person is another thirty days from retirement, and well-deserved retirement. God has you in mind so that this job will cross your path. Your search has gone on for five months with no results, so you quit thirty days before the position of a lifetime comes available.

Your focus moves on to something else, and the Universe moves on because you did.

Stay in faith even when you don’t see a way God is making a way. You won’t know what is having to take place in front of you before God can move this part of your destiny to unfold for you. The Universe won’t cut you in line. So have patience!

Here is the real kicker that will blow your mind. You can’t move yet because God is blessing someone you don’t know with something you currently have. He is driving your life around to be a blessing for someone you don’t even know.

Point is none of us know. So why stress over a fair outcome that may take a little more time. How many times have you quit than if you had not your life might be completely different? Think about that. Patience can make all the difference in your life. Faith, Hope, resolve, need to be your mantra!

A chapter from my book Tying It All Together. Click the book cover to see all my works on Amazon.

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