You Can Do It!
At the moment both of my daughters are sitting various exams. So again our lives are tinged with exam fever. As a parent I can’t help but feel their aspirations, their hopes, their doubts and anxieties, their joys and sometimes their disappointments.
Yesterday my eldest daughter who is in her second year at University did her first paper in the series of her end of year exams. It was a two-hour paper and at 5:30pm I received this Whatsapp from her “Exam did not go well, on my way home”. I could feel her disappointment the instant I read her message.
Of course I called her immediately and listened to what she had to say. My main concern was that her present state does not cause her to make a limiting decision and influence negatively the rest of her exams. It turned out that she did answer four questions as was required but they were not questions relating to her favourite topics, the topics that she learnt well and enjoyed writing about. The good thing is that she stayed calm and relaxed and used her knowledge and common sense to answer those questions that she thought she did not know that well. I told her that she has done her best, we don’t know for sure how the results will be but now it is in the past and she should look forward and focus on what is to come without letting this one experience influence negatively her expectations of the rest. An hour later she sent me another Whatsapp, “I am feeling better. On to the next one.” I was very proud of the fact that she was able to turn her emotional state around and react positively to what she perceived as a negative experience.
What I am trying to say here is that our state of mind has a huge influence on our behaviour and therefore our outcomes. For all those students out there who are undergoing exams at the moment I would like to urge you to use your “seven nations army” to fight any negative thoughts that you might have about your abilities, performance and outcomes. When you feel anxious or panicky, stop for a moment and look inside and notice what your inner thoughts are? What self talk are you engaging in? What pictures and images are you creating in your mind? And ask yourself this, “Are these thoughts and images positive? Do they make me feel good about myself? Do they make me feel empowered?” and if the answer is no then simply, change them.
I say simply because it is that simple. If you have read any of my previous blogs you will know that in NLP we believe that your brain can’t process negative statements and as a result we can end up focusing on the very thing that we do not want.
Therefore if you find that you are saying things to yourself like “Oh God I am going to fail”, you can say instead, “I am going to do my best to succeed” and so your brain focuses on succeed rather than fail and you are more likely to achieve what you ultimately want.
Again the state you are in when you do something influences the outcome. So why not use your brain to put yourself in a positive state when you need it. So take a moment before you enter the exam room and do the following:
Close your eyes and go to a time in your past when you felt happy or empowered, a time when you felt a great sense of achievement and on top of the world. A time when things went exactly as you wanted. Conjure this memory in your mind’s eye and make it as vivid as possible, see what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt. Open your eyes and take that positive feeling and that positive state of mind into the exam room and you stand a better chance to perform well. Provided of course you also did your revision.
These days instead of saying “Good luck!” to my daughters when they are off to do their exams I tell them instead, “Enjoy it!” I say that because I feel that sometimes we tend to forget the joy that comes with learning. Exams are simply one way of monitoring what we have learnt. Being in a positive state is half the battle won. Remember the famous Nike slogan “YOU Can DO IT!”