I want to yell at the dental assistant. Mariana is taking an x-ray. My mouth is stretched open wide, a metal contraption wedged into the space between upper and lower teeth, an x-ray chip pressing into my gums.
Just relax, Mariana says.
Just relax! Nothing about this is relaxing!!!
That same week I coach Vince, a speaker who is rehearsing a presentation to his CEO. Vince is a rising corporate star. Anxious anticipation colors his conversation with me.
Just relax, I want to say to him. And I realize it’s not that easy.
Pretty much every task is accomplished with more ease and greater impact when we relax.
How do we relax when circumstances conspire against relaxation? This is the relaxation paradox.
Relaxation occurs in the body. The deep breath. The physical stretch. The intentional muscle movement. The conscious exhale. We know it. And yet, our mind insistently inhibits relaxation. It has a ferocious fling with fear-inducing thought. It forgets to send relaxation commands to the body.
It does so with shocking vehemence. It’s the old mind/body connection. And the old mind-over-matter hierarchy. Here’s how we navigate around the relaxation paradox. Our two relaxation allies. Really quite simple.
Just relax. Yes, it’s not that easy. Yet exceptional everyday performance doesn’t happen without it. Embrace our two allies. Know that it is mind over matter, and that muscle memory will outfox the mind. It’s how we manage the relaxation paradox.
Powerful. And so liberating.