How To Visualise Yourself Thriving
Scientists believe that we may experience real actions and imagined actions in similar ways. Whether we step forward to connect our racquet with the ball, or imagine doing so, we activate many of the same neural networks in our brain.
These visualised mental workouts also stimulate the sympathetic nervous system which means we actually experience increases in heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.
If your challenge is not physical (such as swinging a tennis racquet) but more mental, such as public speaking, then visualisation can help you to remain calm. Visualising a sense of calm, and feeling in control, may also have an impact on physical symptoms of stress such as a racing heart.
Repeating your visualisation several times has a similar impact as repeating the challenge in reality. When you go to actually perform your challenge in reality, it will feel familiar to you.
So how do you do it?
1. Create a script
What is your challenge that you want to visualise? Write out a basic script. Where does it start and how does it finish. Are you alone or with others? How do you want to feel? Break your challenge up into smaller chunks. If your challenge is to speak confidently with new people you meet at a social gathering, then the first chunk may be to imagine entering the room where the gathering is being held. What can you see? Take a breath. The next chunk may be your friend introducing you to someone. Imagine yourself smiling with your shoulders back. Imagine feeling calm and confident.
2. Add some texture
While we refer to the word “visualisation” it is not limited to what we see. Use all your senses. Put as much texture around your script as possible. What can you hear and smell? What are you wearing? What do your shoes sound like as you walk across the room? Is there music playing? What is it? Are you cold or warm? Are you holding a drink in your hand? What does the glass feel like in your hand? Add in as much texture as possible based on your script.
3. Prepare, practise and refine
Relax both your body and mind. Get yourself comfortable. Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths. In for 3, out for 5. Repeat several times until you’re ready.
Start to visualise your script bringing all the texture to life. You want to be practising from your own perspective. You are visualising the experience through your eyes. You are not seeing yourself in a movie.
Refine your script. Add more texture.
You become better at your tennis swing by practise, not by reading a book about tennis. You become better at visualisation by practising it. Practise, practise, practise. Before an important talk, I’ve visualised it at least a dozen times before the actual event.
Be yourself. If your preferred style is more towards “quiet”, don’t visualize yourself being the life of the party because it won’t feel real. Imagine being the best version of you.
There you have it. It works. Give it a go.