A sunflower denoting hope. It pivots its head towards the sun. This article is about pivoting our mindset

Pivot. I can’t get that word out of my head. Turning purposefully to face another direction whilst remaining in the same place. It’s about perspective. It’s about choices. It’s about intention. It’s about picking up your life and making a conscious decision to defend, strengthen and nurture your wellbeing. 

This is one of mental fitness expert and performance coach Sak Rafique’s key words when he talks about men’s mental health. It’s his fault it’s in my head – and I’m glad of it. It sums it up perfectly.

Sak is on a mission to not only get men talking about their mental health, but to also get them taking action. He wants them to pivot. 

The lead coach of Strengthen Men is passionate about supporting men to not only talk about their emotions, but to also grow mentally fit and emotionally agile enough to live their best life and to be resilient in this challenging world we live in. Pivoting is something we all need to learn to do in different areas of our lives. When we choose to do it with our life as a whole, that’s the moment we begin to really turn things around! Our pivot point.

In terms of emotional agility (being able to respond resiliently to the ups and downs of life), when we pivot, we turn a moment around.

And if you’re anything like me, your life is full of moments! Moments when your thoughts might be spiralling down. Moments when there’s a big emotion bubbling up. Moments when suddenly it’s like the floor has dropped away from beneath you and you lose your breath for a second. In those moments you and I have a choice.

Pivoting is picking up that moment and choosing to redirect it. It’s an essential mental fitness skill. One that reminds you that you are in control. A technique that turns a vulnerable moment into a wellbeing win.

To win, we have to own the moment. Own the vulnerability. Own our weakness. And then we pivot. Very intentionally.

photo of sunflower by Aaron Burden: Unsplash

To pivot, we need to develop our self-awareness, we need to catch ourselves in that moment. Here’s what it might look like:

  • Something has triggered you and you notice an old negative feeling rising up in you again: You pause, you speak in your mind (or out loud if you want) to that feeling and say something like “I’m not being held back by you. I’ve got this.” And you redirect your thoughts. You can work on that trigger later, but in that moment, you refuse to surrender to those emotions.
  • You begin to doubt yourself and soon your are frozen with indecision: You speak to yourself “You can do this (say your name)! Come on!”. Believing in ourselves is not a mystery, it’s a choice that we have to make – even when we don’t feel confident. It helps to remind yourself of the facts of your strengths, skills and accomplishments. Speaking facts to that inner critic. This type of pivoting is about taking a moment to regroup our thoughts.
  • You realise that you just can’t cope: You stop denying that you need help and pivot by reaching out immediately and honestly to friends, loved ones or your health care provider. This is an essential pivoting skill. It’s a choice that we can make not only in the moment, but beforehand – making a decision that if we have a moment when we feel so low or vulnerable that we will reach out. Because there are people who will embrace you, call up courage within you and help you.

Pivoting, you’ll have noticed, involves taking responsibility. Reminding your mind that you control its settings. That’s the great thing about mindset – we get to programme it. Sometimes we can manage that alone, with encouragement. Sometimes we need support – and that’s absolutely ok. It’s all pivoting. It’s all choosing to turn the emotion, the moment, the spiral around.

For me, thanks to Sak, I now have a word for that moment.

The moment when I was bedridden and burnt out and vowed I would make the changes needed in my life. I pivoted.

That moment when I understood that those emotions I thought I had worked through but had really buried were smouldering deep inside me, affecting my life and relationships. I pivoted.

Those moments when I wake up and begin to feel hopeless but catch myself with optimism instead. My pivoting moments.

Here’s another nugget Sak shared with me: For men, the sooner they pivot in general with their wellbeing – choosing to pick it up and pivot different areas – the healthier their mindset and emotional wellbeing becomes. The less likely they are to reach a point of desperation.

I think that’s something we can all learn from.

What will you pivot today?

Andrea Urquhart is an emotion coach and online community leader who empowers people of all ages to tackle big emotions and live their best lives. To learn more about boosting your mental fitness, join Andrea and Sak at Strengthen.

If you are feeling desperately low, having thoughts of harming yourself or others, or feel unable to cope, reach out to your local emergency services or mental health team. You can also call the Samaritans: In the UK call:116123 There is someone 24/7 to take your call. In the USA call: 1 (800) 273-TALK. Pivot now.