Being a recent grad in the job and interview atmosphere, one question I tend to get asked a great deal by interviewers is “How do you deal with adversity?” Having personally dealt with a good amount of hardship and emotional roller-coasters in my life, I tend to have a variety of answers I could give. But that isn’t the purpose of this article. Instead, I want to focus on helping you deal with adversity. I’d like this to be thought of as a helpful mental tool for your “mind hardware”. Furthermore, I like to keep things simple and concise; my tool is a 4-letter acronym, and that word is BLUE. Don’t worry, I’ll explain what the word BLUE has to do with handling adversity. Let’s dive in.
As shown above in the graphic, BLUE stands for Breathe, Listen, Understand, and Execute. These four attributes are how I personal cope with any form of stress or adversity, whether it be minimal or threatening (of course to an extent). Let’s understand what each means in detail:
This may sound pretty straight-forward, and to be frank, it is. Problem is however, that nobody does it. Out of the 4 attributes, this by far is the most left-out or underutilized action by individuals. When we experience stress and a state of hardship, our bodies enter in a ‘heightened’ state or “fight or flight” mode. When this happens, hormones such as noradrenaline and cortisol are secreted. Being stress hormones that they are, we want to minimize their levels to affect long-term health issues. This is where breathing comes in. In these states, our breathing becomes more rapid, shallow and ‘ineffective’ in a sense. The goal is to change this to more of a ‘conscious’ breath that is slower, deep and controlled. Laura Peterson, an RN, said it perfectly in her MayoClinic article, that “conscious breathing can be used as an anchor to stay in the present moment”. Furthermore, she states “During stressful moments, conscious breathing allows you to shift and release negative energy instead of storing it in your body”. Better breathing, leads to a more relaxed and controlled internal bodily environment, which ultimately leads to better decision-making.
This second stage is a transition from internal to external; from you to the other person (or situation). Before we understand the issue at hand, we need to be attentive and find out what the issue actually is. However, as mentioned in my post on healthy habits, we must not just ‘listen; we must empathically listen. This is when we give our full attention and give the speaker a sense of empathy; we understand this person intellectually but also emotionally. It’s not just nodding and agreeing, but instead, listening with the brain, eyes, heart and body. Sometimes, by listening correctly, many do not need to progress to the next stages of this acronym because they find out a missing vital piece of the puzzle that they didn’t pick up the first time. Respect can come from both directions; it is your duty to show this through listening appropriately.
This next part comes as somewhat of a two-fold with the above Listening as they go hand in hand. A lot of us “listen to respond”; instead, we should be “listening to understand”. Understanding relates to the concept of being able to perceive and comprehend the matter or aspect at hand. This stage is focused on utilizing what we took in from empathically listening, and bringing it back internally to grasp the facts and figures. As an analogy, this stage can be thought of like a medical diagnosis. We first have to get the facts through listening (2nd stage), to properly determine what the issue is (this stage). We then move on to the final step, which is execute.
Last but not least and the most important step of all, execute. This is the action stage; the DOING; the implementation. Caroline Myss famously said, “Intention without action, is useless”; the same carries over here. What good is this whole toolkit if all you do is everything but this last step? You may learn something, yes. You may feel more connected to the other person or overall situation, yes; but you will have not solved the dilemma you were in from the start of which you decided to utilize this acronym. Once we have armed ourselves with a better physical stature through proper breathing, have connected ourselves better to the situation at hand through listening, have clearly comprehended all the facts through understanding, we must then take action appropriate to the situation. Only then will we solve the issue, lower stress and ultimately conquer the obstacle in our way.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and hopefully you were able to learn something new for yourself! If you enjoyed, please give it a like and share! Much love!