Control Your mind – How to train Mental State change

Imagine being in control of your mental state and changing it at will — You are in control of your mind and your mood.

Photo by Bluehouse Skis on Unsplash

Do you ever feel like your emotions are overwhelming you? That you can feel how your mood is changing into something you don’t want? Maybe you start getting anxious or angry?

“The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain.” — Daniel Goleman

Emotions are your fundamental reactions to your surroundings. They have been with us as long as we have been humans and they are one of our most important mechanisms of survival. But sometimes they do seem a little outdated and it would be preferable to have a response purely based on reason. That is unfortunately not to be changed, but you can change or influence.

One of the greatest tools you can learn is the ability to change your mental state. I remember vividly when I was first told to

“Just change your state — now!”

I was in my early twenties working as a junior consultant when my mentor and manager, one of the most brilliant consultants I have ever met, pulled me aside and told me that.

We were about to start a workshop with 20+ executives from a large international company and I was very tired and felt drained of energy. They were getting coffee in the other room and soon they would be entering the workshop office and we would have to be on.

We had arrived the day before, like most of the other participants and had been caught in the reception and asked to join some of them in the bar for a beer before bedtime. Those beers became a few and bedtime too late. Those excuses don’t count.

Standing there knowing they would all come through the door and expect the typical energetic Management Consultants, did not help me much. I didn’t know what to do. My boss was tired as well but the moment they entered, he looked like he had slept 12 hours and was on speed.

I didn’t manage to change my state at the time, but what he said stuck with me and I started to practice.

Changing Your State of Mind can Seem Extremely Difficult, but it isn’t always

“Without continually resurrecting the fealing of anger, it is impossible to stay angry for more than a few moments.” — Sam Harris in Waking Up

Do you know any small kids? I have two and I can tell you from experience, Kids are masters in state change! One of the earliest tricks you learn as a parent is a diversion. If your Kid is Crying about not getting something they want you just have to distract them and they change instantly from crying their hearts out to laughing like they just experienced the funniest thing in the universe.

How do they do it? And can you?

Sure you can, first

Kids are in the present — in the now! They are not dwelling on the past or being worried about the future. That makes it easy for them to react to anything that comes into view, even if it is a stupid distraction from a parent.

Focus on being in the present when you want to change your emotional state. Stop your self-talk and be present.


The distraction is important and that works for adults as well. It may take a little more finesse, but most people can be distracted fairly easy to change their state of mind. Next time you experience someone who ranting about something they are unhappy with, then notice how their emotions are building. How they get increasingly agitated. Then change the subject to something positive, like their favorite TV show or sports team. Notice how their mood changes.

You can do the same thing to yourself. When your emotional state is not going in the direction you want, then distract yourself with something else. Something positive. Notice that the sun is shining or that your coffee is still hot.

You can, but do not have to, use Mindfulness practices to train your emotional awareness further but you can also just use your everyday situations to train you.

I use my kids as one of my main training tools. Kids know how to push buttons. At least mine know how to get me into an emotional state, that I don’t enjoy, and that is a perfect opportunity to train state change.

Physical changes can trigger emotional changes

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” — Dr. Seuss

Smiling can make you happier. It’s not a cure-all, but when you want to change your mental state then forcing yourself to smile will impact the chemistry in your brain and make you happier.

You can also do a quick and light exercise. Like stretching your arms above your head then clench your hand as tightly as you can, unclench and stretch your fingers, clench again and so forth for as long as you can last. That will get your blood pumping and help you change your emotional state.

Lastly. One of your most powerful tools is also the simplest.


Take a deep breath. Focus on your body while taking that breath and decide what mental state you want to be in.

In summary

That day when I was a young apprentice consultant I learned a valuable lesson. You can change your state of mind at will, with a little practice. I do that now and I know you can too.

  1. Notice your emotional state and when changes occur
  2. Use distractions and small physical exercise to pull yourself into the present
  3. Decide the state you want to be in!

First published on Medium