In this podcast episode, I go 1-on-1 with Lauren Fire, from Mind Over Bar who coaches bar exam students and lawyers on how to deal with stress and anxiety during the bar in order to free up mental focus.
Here is a summary of her 10 Tips:
What are you putting into your body?
1) Food – Eat Green – Kale, Spinach, Smoothies, Salad, Steamed Vegetables, and protein.
2) Drink 2 to 3 liters of water every day. Drink more water if you are drinking lots of coffee.
3) Cut out some of the caffeine and sugar. Eat almond butter and bread.
Give Your Body and Mind a Break
4) Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. Don’t sacrifice sleep for studying.
5) Study in segments. Don’t try to focus for really long hours. Use the Pomodoro technique.
Use Tools to Control Your Anxiety in the Moment
6) Control your Breath and You Control your Anxiety and Emotions.
7) Release your Body Tension and Relax your Body.
8) Be aware of and Manage your Self Talk.
9) How are you motivating yourself? Don’t use guilt.
10) Where is your focus? On the negatives that will happen or the positives?
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Here is a full transcript of this interview:
Intro: You’re listening to the IPassedMyBarExam.com podcast. Helping you pass your bar exam with ease and confidence, episode #13.
Dustin: Greetings and welcome, future bar exam passers! My name is Dustin Saiidi, founder of IPassedMyBarExam.com and the author of the The 7 Steps to Bar Exam Success, and today we have another special guest on the show; her name is Lauren Fire from MindOverBar.com and she specializes in helping students deal with stress and anxiety, and increasing their focus during test preparation. She helps students of different areas who take tests, and certainly those who are taking the bar exam. She herself is a California certified attorney, so she has been through the same things that you will be going through or are currently going through. And she has been gracious enough to come on the show today to talk about her 10 tips to help reduce stress and anxiety, and increase mental focus during your bar exam. So these are going to be some awesome tips for you, some of the things you probably haven’t heard before. And let’s listen in and get some good value, good knowledge, and make your bar exam less stressful and anxious, and increase your focus. Also, be sure to listen up at the end of the interview where you will learn how you can get a gift from Lauren and myself today in helping you study for and pass your bar exam. Alright, let’s go straight to the interview now.
Alright, hello and welcome! We are now here with Lauren Fire from MindOverBar.com, who has been gracious enough to come on to the call today to tell us the top 10 ways to stay mentally focused during your bar exam prep.
Hi, Lauren! How are you doing today?
Lauren: I’m doing good. Thanks for having me!
Dustin: Thanks for coming on today. So, tell the listeners a little bit about yourself. How did you come to start BarOverMind.com? What was your kind of, bar exam story that you went through, so they get to know you a little bit better.
Lauren: Okay. Well, I took the bar exam in 2004, I practiced for about 7 years. And my story is actually a lot related to my practice of law and my struggles with stress. I started struggling with stress and anxiety in law school, and then during the bar, and then later during practice it got a lot worse. You know, I was very driven, and very ambitious, and successful, a big firm, and all that. I was very driven and I basically drove myself into a wall, basically with the stress and anxiety. So I started to looking for ways to fix it because I’m a researcher, so I turned my legal research skills inward and started looking at what’s causing this, how can I fix this myself, what can I do so that stress and anxiety don’t interfere with my ability to perform on my job.
And so what I created, I studied mindfulness, meditation, I studied neuroscience, I studied every self-help book I can get my hands on. You know, I’ve been a self-help junkie since I was 18, attending all seminars and all that stuff. So, I took all my stuff that I’ve been studying for years and years as a hobby, and turned it into what I think is a set of tools that are very very helpful and very useful for people that are struggling with the types of stress and anxiety that I think law students and lawyers struggle with ,which was similar with what I struggled with. And I think it’s a unique set of stress and anxiety because a lot of lawyers and law students tend to be perfectionist, they tend to be very hard on themselves. I don’t know why, I don’t know if the imperfectionist go to law school or if law school creates perfectionist, but something about that process creates people that are very hard on themselves and creates a certain type of stress and anxiety that I’ve really studied in a lot of detail and studied ways that I can help people with it. So I turned to the bar exam because there’s so many people who struggle with it, and I feel like I can do the most good for people during the bar exam. And then I also coach lawyers as well, once they get into practice and are struggling with balance and stress. So my practice focuses on both the bar exam and lawyers.
My first program, MindOverBar, was created because I wanted to be able to – I found myself when I was coaching, giving the same information over and over again and I found that it was actually the information people needed in a quick and dirty way, more than a lot of, “Let’s talk about the past, about your parents.” You know, that wasn’t what they needed. Here’s the information, and here’s a quick way to digest it, quick way to use it starting right now to really help you. So that’s why I created a program that people could digest pretty quickly and use to help themselves deal with the types of emotional challenges that can get in the way of passing the bar. So, that’s how I created MindOverBar.
Dustin: That’s great! So, as you kind of apply some of these techniques to yourself and to others, what kind of difference did you notice in people?
Lauren: In myself, I’ve noticed , you just understand – 1) just understanding what’s happening with you. Understanding that there’s nothing wrong with you, this is not something you’re doing wrong, there’s certain things that are happening with your mind and your body especially as they relate to stress. So, just understanding what’s happening has a big effect on people because they’ll go, “Oh I’m not alone. So, I’m not terrible for feeling this way. There’s nothing wrong with me, it’s just what’s happening with my body. And I can actually really affect it really quickly and really profound ways by just doing a couple of things.”
And you see people really perk up with that and feel really relived, and they can start to focus on what’s important which is getting the vast amount of information in your head quickly. You know, so you can turn the focus from fighting with yourself, and fighting with stress and anxiety, to studying. You know, just what they need to be focusing on right now. So I’ve definitely seen people that I’ve talked to and just, “Wow. This is really helpful, really quickly without having to go into my past or go see a therapist. This issue seemed insurmountable and now it seems it is much easier.”
Dustin: That’s fantastic. Yeah I think, stresses can caused by a lot of things, not just trying to memorize a lot of rules, and I don’t think a lot of people do that or a lot of people know that. So I think we’ll get into some of those too when we go in to your top 10 tips, yeah?
Dustin: Okay, so let’s start with your first tip to stay mentally focused during the bar exam.
Lauren: So the first couple of tips, you might be a little disappointed because this seems simple, but I think the number 1, 2, and 3 most profound ways to get yourself to stay mentally focused have to do with how you’re treating your body. And I come to the first because I’ve seen, for me, it was a huge change for me with stress when I changed how I was treating my body because the body’s not designed to process the types of stress that you put on it, especially during the bar exam. And so, when you’re putting yourself, you’re constantly triggering what’s called your stress response and releasing all these stress hormones into your body. You’re bathing your body in stress hormones over and over again, and if you’re not giving your body the types of support, the types of nutrition that you need to be giving it right now; your body can actually break down really quickly. That’s why people get sick during exams, that’s why you end up much more tired, or loosing focus or cloudy or all sorts of things that can happen, stomach problems, that can really interfere with what’s happening, your ability to stay focused.
So, #1 is food. What are you putting into your body? I recommend people, #1 rule, add green. It’s very simple, you need to be eating green; kale, spinach, broccoli, collard greens. Any green you can find, just add it into your day. You don’t have to- I’m not saying you have to change your diet dramatically. I’m just saying add in green. I like to take greens and put them in the blender with some fruit, drink a smoothie. Have a salad on the side that’s kale and spinach. Steam some vegetables with dinner. Just start adding a lot of green because you’re then giving your body a lot of nutrition that it needs to support you during times of really high stress.
Dustin: Do you mean, for lunch, I can’t just drink Starbucks and have a bagel?
Lauren: That’s actually #3, we’ll get to caffeine and sugar in just a minute.
Dustin: Oh, we’re not there yet.
Lauren: But yeah, you know, if you’re not giving your body the types of nutrition that it needs, especially if you’re not giving it protein, if you’re not giving it nutrition. You’re just eating food that’s supposed to fill you up a little bit, you might get – you’re going to be a little tired, you’re going to crash, you’re going to end up having to turn to sugar and caffeine which can actually – I’ll talk about it in a minute, trigger more of your body’s stress response and you wind up much more likely to burn-out more quickly, much more likely to get sick. You’re immune system gets really low.
I mean, when I was at the law firm, at one point I used to carry around a box of Kleenex with me because I was sick all the time. And I remember a turning point for me, I was sitting at this partner’s office with my box of Kleenex; runny nose, trying to listen to what he was saying, and he looks at me and he’s like, “I have never seen someone who’s sick as often as you.”
And I just was like, “Oh my god, this is not right.” So I started seeking help in other places, a nutritionist. And understanding that I actually have a adrenal fatigue, my adrenal glads were shut. So that can happen if you let yourself, let your body wear down. So you got to support your body while you’re stressed out. You can’t change stress, it’s happening to you right now but you can give your body what it needs which is quality nutrition.
Dustin: Wonderful, wonderful tip! And that’s something I don’t think a lot of people A) are trained in or B) even know about, especially during the bar. They think stress comes from just preparing, but a lot of it has to do with how you’re feeding your body. So that’s a great tip.
Lauren: Yeah, and then #2 is water. I mean, this really comes down to your brain because if you’re dehydrated your brain actually shrinks. And so if you’re trying to put a bunch of information, you’re trying to memorize a bunch of things and you’re not just pounding water all day, you’re actually putting yourself to disadvantage for how much you can learn. You’re not going to think as clearly, you’re going to be cloudy, you’re not going to be able to focus as long. I mean, it’s very scientifically proven.
So you need to be drinking 2-3 liters a day or more of water. You know, I recommend taking one of those water bottles that’s measuring it and saying, “I get up in the morning, I’m going to drink X number of these today” and just making your goal. You know, there’s so much water you need to drink. And if you drinking a lot of coffee, you drink even more water, because coffee is diuretic and it’s going to dehydrate you more and shrink your brain even more. So you got to think about what you’re putting into your body and how you can support it. I’m not saying cut out the coffee, I’m saying drink more water if you’re drinking coffee.
Dustin: Awesome. Love it!
Lauren: So #3 is caffeine and sugar. I know that when you get stressed this is the first thing people turn to. We’ll a lot of times, you turn to it because you’re not giving yourself good nutrition. So you’re crashing in the middle of the morning, you’re crashing in the middle of the afternoon; and so, you have to have the caffeine and sugar to keep yourself running.
So caffeine, if you’re addicted to caffeine, this is not the time to quit. I’m not saying this is the time to cut-out caffeine. What I am saying is to understand that only use it when you absolutely need it, because caffeine and sugar both trigger the body’s stress response in the same way that if you get really upset or freak out about something. And they can actually lead to more anxiety. And for me if I have a lot of caffeine I find myself more anxious, my heart’s beating faster, my thoughts are uncontrollable. So caffeine can contribute to a lot of the types of anxiety that people struggle with during the exam.
So just take a look at, “How much caffeine am I consuming? Do I really need it or am I just consuming it because it’s there?” You know, I try and change my nutrition to see if I can, kind of, reduce the amount of caffeine. Make sure you’re drinking enough water to help avoid the dehydration the caffeine is causing.
And sugar, if you can cut out sugar or really really cut it down, that’s really going to spike your blood sugar and cause you get tired and foggy when you study. So, if you’re living off M&Ms or gummy bears or whatever while you’re studying, get some fruit, bring some carrots. Bring something that’s actually going to give you nutrition. I used to eat sunflower seeds when I’m studying because it would keep me busy. For some reason, I love eating sunflower seeds because it kept me awake. So i had to work with sunflower seeds in my mouth each time I get them. And salt, for some reason, kept me going. So find something else, almond butter on a piece of bread. I got a blog post on my website called, 12 Foods That Make You Smarter, it’s on MindOverBar.com. And I listed a set of food that can help if you’re going to replace sugar with things like blueberries, somethings like that. So that’s a good one.
Dustin: Cool! I’ll put a link to that too. I had a student one time, asked me, telling me about how stressed out they were. And I started with their diet like, what are they having for breakfast, what are they having for lunch. And found out that they were having bagels and coffee. And there is nothing, literally, nothing going into the body. So what I tell students is when they feel stress or anxiety, before you look at the bar exam or blame the bar exam; first, look at what is it that you’re putting into your body. And then, if you’re filling your body in those ways that you’re saying then you can look at, it’s maybe mental stress or the bar exam, but look at the body stress first.
Lauren: Yeah, that is why I always start with body which is kind of a let down for some people because they don’t want the magic bullet. They don’t want to hear, eat better, and drink more water.
Dustin: Right, it is the magic bullet, they just didn’t know.
Lauren: It really makes a huge difference, I’m not saying dramatically change anything, just add green, add more water. And the only thing I want you to cut down on and potentially cut out, cut down on caffeine, and really try to cut-off sugar unless it’s a treat. Don’t live on it.
Dustin: Right. Yeah, it’s a subtle change but it goes a long way for sure. Okay, what’s tip #4?
Lauren: #4 is another one that’s a let down but, sleep – you got to get a good amount of sleep, and it’s very very important because if you’re one of those people that says “I can live on 5 hours sleep a night.” you’re just wrong. Science has proven that no one can be focused, and alert, and be absorbing the type of information you need to be absorbing right now, when you’re not getting a decent amount of sleep. And a decent amount, I’d say 6-7 is a minimum that you need to be getting.
Everyone needs a different amount of sleep. Like I, personally, need 7-8 but some people can go with 6-7. If you’re getting any less than 6 and you’re saying “Oh, I just need to study more.” and “I need to stay up until midnight every night or 1 am every night studying, instead of sleeping.” you’re trading off something that can make you more focused, and more alert, and more able to absorb information the next day. So you’re actually depleting your resources by staying up later. You’re having trouble sleeping, make sure you’re not watching TV before you go to sleep. Make sure to give yourself 15-20 minutes of a whine down period before you fall asleep; there’s no TV, no screens, no cellphone because you have a little light around. If you’re looking at screens or doing something before you go to bed, you’re actually depleting your body’s ability to make the chemical melatonin which is what helps you fall asleep. So when lights go down, your body’s triggered to make melatonin which helps you fall asleep, and if you don’t let it do that, if you keep it bright and you keep flashing TV or screen or whatever, in front of your eyes you’re not going to be able to fall asleep as quickly.
When you whine down as soon as you lay down, then you start thinking about the bar exam, and maybe worrying, and so I recommend people to really try to make sleep a priority. Make it something that you are focused on, improving quality of your sleep if you have problem sleeping. You said you have a hypnosis track, correct?
Lauren: That would be great. Something like that to listen to as you fall asleep, would be great.
Dustin: Yeah, I think the cool thing too is the bar exam, you do have enough time to study everything but it’s really kind of maintaining your energy, and your body, and your mind throughout. If you’re getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating the right food, and moving forward in your studies then you’ll be fine. Don’t compromise one for the other, I think, as well. Would you agree?
Lauren: Yeah, I totally agree. Along to the same lines is the next tip, #5 is study for a reasonable amount of time in segments. I have a lot of students that I talk to, this is such a common thing, and they say “You know, I can’t just stay focused. I just loose focus while I’m studying, and I end up surfing the internet, or I do this and that.” And then I say “Well, how long are you requiring yourself to study a long time before you take a break?” And they say, 2-3 hours. And I say, it is not physically possible for you to stay focused on one thing for that long period of time. You’re asking of yourself more than you’re capable of, and then you’re beating yourself up for not being able to live up to it. And then you’re procrastinating because your body needs it, your mind need that break.
And this is if you’re at a high performance academy, but Brendon Bouchard says 30 minutes with short breaks. So I tell the students the same thing, I say, “Try studying 30 minutes at a time. I’m not going to do anything but study this topic for 30 minutes.” and that is a reasonable amount of time. And if you can’t do 30, cut it down to 20, and work up to 30 where you literally do not do anything else for those 30 minutes; and then take 5 minute breaks.
I recommend people check out the Pomodoro technique, it’s a time management technique. It’s named a Pomodoro because the guy who invented it used a timer shaped like a tomato, I don’t know why. So the Pomodoro technique, actually, you can download timers that you put on your computer that time you for 30 minutes and then 5 minute breaks. And then, you can change the amount of time here and there, but after a couple of 30 minute segments you take a longer break. But requiring yourself to study for a shorter amount of time actually will increase your focus during that period of time. And then during that 5 minutes, then go surf the internet, then go check your email, let yourself have that sort of valve release. Because the pressure builds up; you want to check your email, you can’t check your email! You have that feeling, so let yourself have that valve release for 5 minutes then go back to the next topic for 30 more minutes. And so, giving yourself a reasonable amount of time to focus, actually will improve your study productivity and allow you to stay focused for a longer periods of time.
Dustin: Okay, let me play devil’s advocate on that one. Let’s say I want to do a practiced essay which takes an hour, and even on the bar exam when I’m doing 3 1 hour essays at a time, that’s a 3 hour essay block. How can I kind of get myself a mental break if I’m doing that, or should I push my way through it or what can I do? I guess, so in terms of the 1 hour practice essay, if you’re saying take a break every 30 minutes. And then on the bar exam when you have 3 hours, kind of straight that you have to work?
Lauren: The point of the 30 minutes is to really get you used to focusing your attention on one thing for a long period of time. And so if you are taking a practice test for an hour, then you have to practice for an hour. You need to build your mental muscles, and so the 30 minutes is more on memorizing, on studying a certain topic. I should have made that a little bit clearer, but yeah, if you’re practicing you need to learn to build your mental muscles. But a lot of times what people do is they don’t build their focus muscles. They study for a little while – check the internet, study for a little while – check twitter, study for a little while – look at their phone. And so when they get in to try and get that 1 hour practice test, when they get into the actually bar exam, they’re not used to holding their attention on a long test for a long period of time.
We’re in such an information age that none of us are used to sitting and staring at something for a long period of time. You are waiting in line for something and you are looking at your phone. We are not used to just standing still and not doing anything but one thing.
Dustin: I got you.
Lauren: So the 30 minutes is actually a way to build your focus muscles. So that when you do have to sit down and do that 1 hour practice test, when you do have 3 hours and you have to do nothing to take the test, you’re going to be better able to focus and not loose focus during the actual test. So when you are actually practicing, yeah, you need to practice for an hour.
And at some point, when you are actually getting closer to the test, you do need to take these long practice session when you are simulating exam circumstances. But if you find yourself loosing focus, then maybe you do need to get up and go to the bathroom, take a little break.
And I also recommend, in my program I have some, a yoga and stress expert doing a couple of videos where he shows you some things to do when you go to the bathroom and like, shake it out and get yourself refocused again. Some body techniques to do, so I recommend people to jump around for a minute in the bathroom when you’re taking the bar or when you’re practicing, when you take that 5 minute break or if you’re loosing focus during your 1 hour practice sessions. Get up, go to the bathroom, shake around, jump around, get yourself back in focus, and then come back. Just don’t let yourself loose focus over and over again because you’re not training yourself.
Dustin: I got you. Awesome, so kind of engage the body on those breaks and then yeah, now I get what you mean. So 30 minutes total focus like, if I’m going to be memorizing Torts rules this 30 minutes, I’m only memorizing Torts rules; I’m not going to checking my phone, checking my facebook.
Lauren: Yeah, nothing. You got 5 minutes to check your phone, check facebook, whatever. That’s your valve release, it’s like the pressure builds up and you want to check it so bad, and then you have that 5 minutes to do it but you’re practicing building your mental muscles to practice the 30 minutes. That’s the point of the Pomodor technique, that’s why they teach that time management technique.
Dustin: Okay, perfect! I love it. Tip #6?
Lauren: Is your breath, so a lot of people come to me with problems with anxiety and with worry, especially when they get to the test. What if I freak out? What if I panic? What if I blank? And what happens when you’re going to do the test is your body’s stress response is going to get fired. There’s no way to get around it, you’re going to be nervous. It doesn’t matter what you feel when you walk in the exam. People tell me, “I want to be calm and confident when I walk in.” and I say, “You don’t know what you’re going to feel. So don’t worry about it, it doesn’t matter.” It’s because you don’t feel confident, it’s because you don’t feel calm when you walk in; it doesn’t matter.
What I tell people is, you need a tool to be able to calm yourself down if you start going – if your wheel start coming off. What I mean by that is when you start being so anxious and you’re worrying so much that you cannot focus, that you start to go down that sort of downward spiral, like, “Oh my god, I’m going to fail this. I can’t do this.” If you start blanking, I mean, I panicked on my bar exam during the performance exam. For some stupid reason, I decided that it’s a good idea to change my whole approach during the – so it’s a different type of performance exam. It involved a lot of rules, so I started to copy all the rules in my computer. And I don’t know what I was doing, but half way through I just completely freaked out. It wasn’t working, and so I started to panic, and the words started to change into a different language to me. And I started thinking, “Oh my god, I can’t feel this right now.” And I said to myself, “No. No, I’m not going to do this. I knew how to breathe, I knew how to calm myself down.”
And so the important thing is, if the wheels start coming off , is you go to your breath. First thing I teach people is to move their breath down into their belly. It’s when you’re breathing in shallowly into your chest, you’re activating your body’s stress response system. You’re activating your sympathetic nervous system which is causing your body through breathing into your chest, you’re telling your body it’s time to be stressed, telling your body it’s time to panic. Whereas if you move your breath, super simple, down into your belly. It’s diaphragmatic breathing, just put your hand into your belly and you breathe into that hand. You’re activating your parasympathetic nervous system which is your calm response.
So you can actually turn off your body’s stress response by breathing into your belly, you can calm your body system down. And so, when your stress response, what’s happening when the wheels comes off is that, your stress response is getting fired so hard your body’s literally sounded some urgency system. Your body thinks that there’s a lion coming at you, and so it says, “Okay. Well, there’s a lion coming at us, we need to fire a flight.You don’t need any of your brain power right now, you don’t need the ability to think, you need the ability to run.” And so your brain will literally shut off the ability to recall information. That’s why you don’t get the information, you’re not crazy.You literally can’t get into the information because your body has turned it off, because it thinks that you need those resources to run from something or to fight something.
And so, it’s not a big deal, it doesn’t mean that it’s not going to come back. It just means you need to calm the heck down, you need to calm your body down. And it starts with your body, don’t worry about what you’re thinking, just go to your body. First, just go and tell them take a deep breath into your stomach, and this works. I’ve heard from many students that if you start panicking, if your hands starts shaking, just breathe. Just take some slow breaths into your stomach because that will calm you down. And if you still can’t get into the information, do it again. If you can’t still get into the information, you’re still panicking, do it again and then go do something else. Go to the next question, try something else.
So, this works for your studying too. If you feel yourself not able to focus, getting anxious, “Oh my gosh, I have a bad grade or a bad practice test score. These MBEs, I’m not going to be able to do this. I’m not going to pass. Oh my gosh!”
Breathe into your belly. Big way to calm down and it increase your focus.
Dustin: That’s a fantastic technique for handling that in-the-moment stress or if something pops up that you weren’t expecting, just handling it in that moment. That’s a fantastic tool.
Lauren: Cool! It leads actually to the next tip which is body tension. A lot of us, and this goes to people practicing, this goes for everyone in the world. We carry a lot more tension in our bodies than we need to. We walk around potentially gripping stuff we don’t need to, especially in the chest and the shoulders. You know, in the stomach – women especially, we tend to think we need to hold our stomachs in because no one wants to see the pooch, so you grip your stomach all the time.
And so, I teach people like, you got to relax if you find yourself anxious while you’re studying. During the test, just take that deep breath into your stomach and just imagine yourself sinking into your chair. Really just start relaxing, letting your muscles go. This is something you can practice right now when you’re studying. During the exam preparation period, prepare yourself to understand how to relax your body. If you can, you know, if you’re watching TV, sit down and take a break. If you’re in the car, a good place to do it in a car. You know, just “I want to relax right now.” and practice relaxing so you can do it quickly. If you practice it over and over again, then you know, “I can relax quickly. I can just go (breathe out) and just let my body become butter or jelly, and just (breathe out). ” You know, whatever image works for you. Start practicing it so that when you get in there, you feel yourself tensed up. If you’re studying, you feel yourself get anxious. You know, a lot of spinning thoughts when you get anxious about “What if I fail? Oh my gosh, people are going to think I’m stupid.” or whatever. When you relax your body you can actually change these thought patters because your mind affects the body, the body also affects the mind. So, relaxing your body is a good way to get out some of those thought patterns.
Dustin: I already feel more relaxed just through this conversation, especially those last 2 tips.
Lauren: Awesome! Number 8 is how you talk to yourself, self speak. What are you saying to yourself about your abilities, about how smart you are, how hard of a worker you are, what you’ve done in the past, what you might do in the future? You know, people tend to be stuck in one place more often than others. Some people focus more on the past; and how “Yesterday I didn’t study enough.” You know, “Yesterday I didn’t do this right” or “2 weeks ago, if I just done it this way”.
Or some people focus more on the future; “Tomorrow I’m going to make sure I do this” and “I need to do this tonight,” “I can’t not do this” and “What if I don’t do this?”
What are you saying to yourself and how is it affecting your emotional state, because how we talk to ourselves can be a big proponent of our stress and anxiety. So if you’re constantly saying to yourself, you know, “I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not going to be able to do this. I don’t know if I can handle this.” You’re creating a situation where you’re not allowing yourself to be more in focus.
So, what are you saying to yourself? How are you talking to yourself? Just look at, somethings to just look at and just start to change it. And I recommend people replace this into something like, in my free video series is if you notice yourself having certain statements that you say over and over again, try replacing them with something ridiculously positive. Like, if you’re studying over and over again, “I don’t know if I can do this.” I notice myself saying that a lot, I notice I say, “I don’t know if I can do this. I feel really un-confident, I feel really heavy, I feel really sad, and worried.” So, whenever you notice yourself saying that, instead replace it with something like, “I’m going to rock this!”
Something, yeah it sounds cheesy, you know. And this is another Brendon Bouchard thing, he talks about this exact issues that if you say to yourself something really positive, it sounds silly and stupid, but so is the negative. So, why are you believing the negative when you can replace it with something positive. So, that’s something that I talk about.
Dustin: It might sound silly but it definitely works. It’s all part of the minds program and the minds conditioning because the results we ultimately get out of life are the results of the thoughts that we’re thinking which leads to our action, which leads to results. So I think it really does start up the thoughts. And I’m a big proponent of using affirmations and being very proactive in what you’re programming into your mind in order to create those thoughts which will create those actions and get those results that you want.
Lauren: Yes. Affirmations I really think, do help, especially during the hypnosis way. You’re getting into your subconscious mind. I definitely recommend your program for people, as well. Which leads us to the next one, which is, are you building yourself up or are you tearing yourself down?
You know, how are you motivating yourself? Because if you’re motivating yourself by judging yourself and making yourself feel guilty for what you didn’t accomplish, for what you didn’t do yesterday, for what you think you’re incapable of doing; you know, it’s about making yourself feel good about yourself, making yourself feel like you can do this, like you can handle this. You’re doing yourself a complete de-service and you’re creating a situation where you’re going to make it harder for yourself to be able to learn because you don’t believe you can do it.
So, I caught people constantly that are such perfectionists, and just, “I just didn’t study enough. I suck and Oh my god.” You know, you got to find a way to motivate yourself that’s building yourself up, that’s making yourself feel good about yourself, making yourself get confident. People ask me all the time, “How do I get confidence?” Well, it’s not going to show up in your door one day and, knock knock knock “Hi, I’m confidence. I’m here.” You have to create it for yourself. You have to make yourself feel confident. I think affirmations is a great way to do it, but just finding a way to motivate yourself and to build yourself up, motivating yourself without having to make yourself feel guilty and ashamed of what you didn’t do.
Dustin: Right. Yeah, I actually let my friend listen to the affirmation mp3 I have on my website, just yesterday. He told me, after one time, he started feeling confident and he really liked it. For people who don’t listen to that, there’s also a technique I recommend is, at the end of the day write down 5 things you felt you were successful in today. Just name 5 successes that you had, and by starting to acknowledge your successes and acknowledging what you’re doing right, you’re kind of build that up and you start to energize yourself to creating more of those successes in your life.
Lauren: Oh, that’s a great tool. Let yourself celebrate your successes as opposed to just dwelling on things you didn’t do right.
Dustin: Yeah, and someone told me too, if you do something you think you overcame a certain barrier block, literally give yourself a pat on the back. If that’s in a gym, I do that all the time in the gym, or if you hit a certain issue on a practice test or if you get a certain score in an MBE, just right there and then give yourself a pat on the back. Don’t worry about what other people are going to think, really just acknowledge yourself for the good work that you did.
Lauren: Totally. And I also tell people, if you find yourself really focused on what you didn’t do right yesterday, or you end your day everyday and you just feel bad about what you didn’t accomplish; I tell people, “Okay, you don’t feel like you’ve lived up to your standards today. Well, look at it strategically.” Don’t just look at yourself and punish yourself. Ask yourself, why didn’t I get accomplished as much as I wanted to get accomplished? Was I not awake enough? Maybe I need to get more sleep. Maybe I need to eat differently, maybe I need to take more breaks, maybe I need to find different strategy for the subject that I’m not confident in. Maybe I need to get a writing tutor that helps me with my writing or you know, get strategic about it. If you feel bad about something, figure out why and if there’s something you can change. And if you can’t, let it go. You’re not going to do yourself any good by dwelling on something you didn’t do. Just look at tomorrow. “Alright, tomorrow I’m going to rock it. I’m going to wake up in the morning and I’m going to make it happen tomorrow.” And let it go.
Dustin: Let it go. You have a chance to recreate your day everyday you wake-up, I like it.
Lauren: It doesn’t matter. You can’t go backwards. Your guilt and shame are not good motivators, they’re just going to make things worse. So you got to keep telling yourself, “I’m making myself feel guilty is actually hurting my productivity.” It’s not helping. You can remind yourself of that, that can help.
Dustin: Excellent tip. So, these are awesome so far. So, we got our last tip now, tip #10.
Lauren: Last tip is also pretty similar which is about what you’re focusing on. If you’re focusing to what happens if you don’t pass, if you’re focusing on what’s my work going to think if I don’t pass, what’s my girlfriend or boyfriends going to think, my parents; if you’re constantly thinking about not passing, you’re not mentally rehearsing the good scenario for yourself.
Whereas, if you’re focusing on, how good is it going to feel when you do pass. Focus on, how great it is going to be when this is over. Focus on, how good it’s going to feel when you get up tomorrow and you have a rocking productive day. Focus on something that you want to happen versus what you don’t want to happen.
A lot of us tend to, worrying, nothing but focusing on what you don’t want to happen. So if it’ something that you don’t want to happen, don’t let yourself think about it a lot. It’s not going to do you any good. You need to turn your focus to what you want to happen, so that you’re actually creating a path for yourself to getting there. I talk about visualization a lot, I actually offer a visualization track for free, for people who sign-up to my list, and it’s a track that just walks you through visualizing what’s going to happen when you walk in; feeling confident, feeling good. You are actually mentally rehearsing what you want to happen, I think that’s very powerful. Athletes do this before they do any kind of big anything; big run or golfer. There’s a reason athletes do it, it’s because it allows your brain to mentally rehears what it’s going to be doing. So you’re actually mentally hearsing it in your brain, you’re creating patterns for yourself. That’s just plain neuroscience. It’s actually, this isn’t new, this is actually scientifically based stuff.
Lauren: So focus is a big deal.
Dustin: Yeah, what you see in your mind repeatedly ends up becoming so in reality. And I like the way you said, basically, ask empowering questions. “What if I fail” to “What if I pass.”
Lauren: How good is it going to feel.
Dustin: Yeah, how good is it going to feel if I pass. So put the question from a negative one to a positive one. And then your mind will, because your mind’s trying to look for the answers based on the questions you asked of anyway. So if you’re asking “Why am I going to fail?” or “What if I fail?” Then you’re going to start to look for the evidence. Okay, all the bad stuff that’s going to happen. But if you say, “How am going to feel if I pass?” then you start to look for evidence for that, and start to feel the energy of passing, and come in sync with that tune of passing.
Dustin: Great tips! Thank you so much, Lauren! I appreciate those, so this is kind of a glimpse of some of the stuff you give in your program as well?
Dustin: Can you talk a little bit more about your program as well?
Lauren: So the program is, it’s an online program. All the lectures are me on video, and it’s all on demand. So you can watch it whenever you want on your computer, on your ipad, on your phone, or wherever, all the videos work on all the places. You can also download audios of the lectures if you just want to listen to them on the go. So there’s 3 lectures, each of them are about 45 minute each. There’s also audio tracks that go with each lecture that you can put on your device, on your phone or on your ipad or whatever, to listen to, to help you enforce some of the material. There’s a relaxation track, there’s visualization, there’s also a –
Dustin: There’s a ding track.
Lauren: There’s a ding track. There’s audio tracks, there’s visualization, there’s a couple of different tracks you listen to. I also have some exercises you do to put the material together. The only thing I say, people need to do, is the lectures and put the audio tracks. You know, the exercises are more – you can choose to do exercises that help you with certain types of information that you really feel like you need. So, the time commitment is really about 3 hours of time you need to learn the material, and then the rest of it you practice while you’re studying.
Here’s the framework of what to understand, here’s the tools you use, and practice them while you study. There’s a nutrition component, there’s a body component, there’s a lot of mindfulness. You know, how to get in the present moment, how to calm yourself down, how to learn what’s happening in your head, and how to change your thought patterns, how to reprogram your brain. I’ve also got a number of bonuses. There’s a few people that are partners of mine and friends of mine, that are experts in various areas. I’ve got a nutrition expert who does a great interview about, basically, pretty content rich interview about stress and nutrition, and what to eat – what not to eat, and what supplements you might want to take, some different smoothies you might want to buy. And there’s all kinds of tips she gives to really improve your brain power with nutrition and supplements, and she’s fantastic.
I got a sleep expert who talks about how you can get better sleep and what can interfere with your sleep. I’ve got a neuroscience expert who talks about how to change your habits, and how you build good/bad habits, especially with study habits. And then, I have a yoga, stress, and energy expert who combines yoga and she create a couple of videos she put up there that are really great. 3 different videos, one of them is what to do for your studying and when you’re studying; one is for the test, and the other one is during the test if you want to go to the bathroom and take a little two minute break, what you can do with your body. And he actually shows you what you can do with your body to help you increase your energy and increase your focus.
So, all of that is in the program, all available on demand. There are also forums where you can ask me questions, I talk to other students. It’s all in an online environment.
Dustin: That’s fantastic! So it sound like a lot of practical, how-to tips that people can start implementing and putting to use right away to help them through they’re bar exam.
Lauren: Yeah. I also offer 1-on-1 coaching. So, someone just feels like they have an issue with one particular thing, then I can sort of download what information they need to them, quickly within an hour or 2 with the personal coaching in helping for certain issues. I do that on the phone or on skype.
Dustin: Very good! Thank you so much for sharing all your tips today.
Lauren: Great! And if people are interested in the course, there’s a 3 video series that’s free. That’s me talking about some of these issues in more detail and gives you some really good tips, so you can sign-up for that. You also get the visualization track when you sign-up for the free video series, and all that is no cost to you. Also, if you are interested in the course, I normally charge $297, but I can offer a discount on this podcast of $197 with the discount code passthebar.
Dustin: Passthebar. Alright, cool! I will have a link to that on my website. Yeah, I will put a link up to that on my website, so students can go there and sign-up for your course as well.
Dustin: Cool! Well, thank you so much, Lauren. And have a wonderful, I guess, rest of bar exam season and hopefully we’ll have you on the podcast again at some point.
Lauren: Yeah, you’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
Dustin: Alright, take care.
Alright, and there you have it Lauren Fire from MindOverBar. Go ahead and take those 10 tips that she gave you and implement them right away to increase your mental focus and decrease your stress and anxiety throughout your bar exam prep.
Also, if you want to sign-up for her course, head over to IPassedMyBarExam.com/MindOverBar and use the discount code passthebar to save a hundred dollars on her program. And if you do sign-up through that link, I will also give you one of my free gifts as well, and I will put what gift that will be on the website. Just email me confirmation once you sign-up on her program, and I will email that to you as well.
So, I hope you enjoyed this podcast, and happy bar exam studying! Go out there kick some butt this week, and we will talk to you soon. Take care!