by Brian Tregunna (UK)

Experienced Life Coach and former Chief Fire Officer Brian Tregunna discusses the importance of self-control during highly-pressurised moments.

We are probably all familiar with that moment when something happens that makes your heart sink. You are planning to do something familiar and for which you are well prepared when, suddenly, the unexpected happens – a crisis, an emergency, something which puts you into a state of shock. Your mind goes blank, your mouth becomes dry and you struggle to think or to know what to do.

Such unexpected events can range from something relatively small, such as a tough question in a job interview, to a serious life-threatening medical emergency or even a major global crisis such as a Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown. In drawing upon my own personal experiences and training as both an emergency responder and Life Coach, I recognise that unplanned events will definitely happen at some point in our lives. We can therefore plan and prepare for them, so that we not only survive but thrive in pressurised situations.

The detail of events will vary, but the impact upon our minds is much the same. When we feel stressed our brain becomes overloaded; it reacts by retreating into a more defensive mode (fight, flight or freeze) and that limits our ability to think, assess and makes decisions.

Handling pressure, however, is a skill that can definitely be learned and developed. It’s important to think about possible events before they occur. Expect the unexpected. Then we can plan and rehearse what we will do in any eventuality. Learning from practice and past experiences, training our minds to respond well to everything that life throws at us. Becoming mentality tough and resilient. Instead of panicking and making mistakes, we are able to maintain our composure and make good decisions.

One of the key characteristics of mental toughness is the ability to perform well under stress and pressure, whatever the circumstances. This ability comes from an assertive mindset, where we have self-control, are able to think clearly, then manages a situation calmly and decisively.

Most people see pressure situations as threatening, and that makes them perform less effectively. Seeing pressure as a threat undermines self-confidence, elicits a fear of failure, impairs  short-term memory, concentration and decision-making skills. It also saps mental energy and spurs impulsive behaviour. It is therefore important to take control of our thoughts and what we say, rather than letting our unconscious mind control us. Think opportunity not threat.

Source: iCN Issue 31  (Life Coaching: Personal & Professional Empowerment); pages 22-24

About Brian Tregunna

Brian is a highly acclaimed Coach, Trainer and Leader. He has his own Coaching and Personal Development company, ‘TLC’, working with organisations, groups and individuals to achieve high performance through bespoke coaching, training, mentoring and personal development.

Further information and contact details are available on Brian’s website

Contact no. 07856571163