It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it. And that’s what gets results!


It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it. And that’s what gets results!

So goes the song. The truism here is that whatever you are doing today, your experience will be affected by ‘the way that you do it’ i.e. your attitude. Are you on course for a day of struggle or a day of ease? The good news is, it’s up to you!

My guess is that like most of us, your attitude changes depending on the circumstances. When things are going well and we feel at ease, it's natural for us to bring the best of who we are to what we do. E.g. we can easily demonstrate qualities like creativity, kindness and humour.

But when we feel under pressure or are in a new challenging situation, it’s not so easy. Just try coming up with creative ideas under duress or responding humorously (not sarcastic humour) when stressed.

Under threat (real or imagined), the brain goes into survival mode, releasing hormones to prepare the body for fight, flight or freeze. Physiologically, the muscles tense up, digestion slows down and breathing becomes fast and shallow as the body gets primed for action. The same automatic response can also come into play when we take a step into the unknown, no matter how exciting or important this unknown may be. In other words, the survival response works the same for ‘good’ situations and ‘bad’ ones alike!

When my clients feel stressed, I support them to become conscious of the accompanying thoughts. We then look to see what beliefs underlie these thoughts and see if these beliefs are true. Here are some such thoughts and beliefs I hear at this point:

  1. who am I kidding? I don’t have the talent for this. I may as well give up now. (flight)
  2. the world’s not ready for this, so why should I give a damn? They can all go hang! (fight)
  3. how can I be sure that this is the right way forward? There are just too many options. (freeze)

Helping people see when their beliefs are untrue, opens up breathing room and gives the opportunity to see what is true.

  1. “who am I kidding?” becomes: there’s a new skill I’d like to develop.
  2. “the world’s not ready”, becomes: research shows me that my idea could help people.
  3. “how can I be sure”, becomes: I am ready to take a small step with one of my ideas.

At this point a creative way forward becomes possible. My client is supported to design and promise an action to take them nearer their goal or desired outcome.

Another way to shift from stress to ease is to consciously change the physiological response to stress. In survival mode, the breathing is shallow, so by consciously changing your breathing from fast and shallow to slow and deep, you will slow your heartrate, and this leads your brain to release endorphins which have a relaxing, calming effect (ease).

Deep breathing does not mean taking in more air; it means breathing from deeper in your body; using the diaphragm rather than the chest muscles and shoulders. Your abdomen expands with the inbreath and relaxes on the out breath.

Two things that help shift the breathing pattern are:

  1. consciously breathing out slowly and completely, this helps to encourage a deep in breath, and
  2. breathing in very slowly

Next time you are struggling to move forward with your plans and goals, try this breathing exercise.


The starting position is to sit comfortably with hands in lap and eyes closed. Notice which parts of your body are moving with the breath and notice how you are feeling.

  1. Slowly breathe out fully and completely; contracting your tummy muscles as you squeeze out every last bit of air.
  2. Very slowly breathe in, expanding your tummy first, your chest second.

Repeat 1. & 2. four more times, then sit quietly and see if you notice any change. If you are more relaxed, you will have shifted your physiology from survival mode to ease, changing your attitude in the process, so you can approach your next task with more creativity, ease and grace.

If you’d prefer to do this with the support of a coach, I’d be delighted to hear from you. If you’d like to join my latest group and you live in the Dundee/Perth/Blairgowrie area, please get in touch on 07973 521 624 and we will see if it’s for you.