Thinking on purpose is a challenge. Reframing your limiting beliefs so that you can see things a different way is hard work. So if you want to take a short cut to managing your thinking try visualisation. It takes the natural process of mental rehearsal and makes it work to elicit the very best outcomes.
Your memory and your imagination are closely linked in your brain and when you imagine something that has happened or will happen, you experience the same emotions as during the real thing. When you tell a sad story you feel sad and when you explain about an amazing success you have achieved, you feel that elation all over again. So the following exercise taps into the way your brain can create a self-fulfilling prophecy by using a mental rehearsal to predict great success.
As experience is mostly constructed in our heads using the senses, construct your visualisation techniques around these: what you see, what you hear and what you feel and do. So you will notice in this example how we shift the focus across these senses to deepen and strengthen the experience. This helps your brain remember the imagined experience as if it really did happen. So the next time you are in the same situation your brain remembers how well everything worked out last time and replicates the emotions you created in your imaginary journey.
You have an interview for a job you really want to get. You keep thinking it will be a disaster because you get very nervous in an interview situation. You have tried reframing those limiting beliefs but you keep seeing yourself drying up or panicking in front of the panel. You need to visualize at the other extreme. You need to convince your brain that interviews are your favourite thing and it is going to be a roaring success. Not just quite a good performance but an amazing star turn.
Think of a time when you have been full of confidence and energy. See yourself in your mind’s eye looking confident, smiling and business like. Listen to yourself in that situation speaking with clear voice and knowledgeable manner. Feel that excitement and stability inside your stomach as you remember that time when you were at your very best. Now take this version of yourself and build that positive image a little more. See yourself in your smart interview outfit, looking professional as you prepare to go off for the interview. See yourself relaxed as you travel to the interview, breathing easily and feeling the flutters inside as excitement and adrenalin that will help you perform well in the interview. See yourself walking confidently to the interview strutting along smiling and excited….
For the interview situation rehearse it in your mind’s eye as a roaring success. Don’t be modest, the more powerful the positive rehearsal the more powerful the association with success for your brain when the real thing happens. See yourself answering questions fully and comprehensively. In fact, surprisingly brilliant, composed and impressive. See it in some detail and hear it clearly. Feel the excitement and pride when you are challenged with difficult questions but come up with good answers. Switch your attention to the interview panel and see them glancing at each other, smiling and thoroughly impressed. Look down from above at the situation, see how you are sitting and speaking with confidence. Hear the voices of the interview panel as they conclude and sounds as if they are very keen to employ you. As the interview comes to an end and you walk out of the room, feel the happy glow inside you as you know what an excellent interview you have given.
All this should take at least 15 minutes and the pictures you imagine must be big and colourful with sound track and appropriate music. Have a list of your favourite empowering songs to play to help anchor your positive feelings. You should imagine what you SEE, HEAR and FEEL so that all your senses are stimulated in this visualised experience.
After you have mentally rehearsed in this way, when you go for your interview and your brain searches for information about how it should respond to this challenge, it will find this memory. If you have done a good job of visualising this experience, the memory will empower you with the same confidence you imagined and the interview will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Try this visualisation rehearsal for any experience you are nervous about. Get in the habit of imagining things going amazingly well. It will be hard at first and you have to remind yourself but you can tweak your thinking when you catch yourself slipping into predicting disaster.
Learn more about how to manage nerves and in our 1-to-1 coaching for presentation skills.
This article was written by Jackie Beere OBE, Fearless Coach.