This technique, used by athletes the world over, encourages us to paint a vivid mental picture of what we desire to accomplish. Why does this work?
An article in Real Simple provides an insight from Aymeric Guillot, Ph.D., a professor at the Center of Research and Innovation in Sport at University Claude Bernard Lyon, in France: “Scientists believe that we may experience real-world and imaginary actions in similar ways…” The same areas of our brain are activated, whether we are imagining ourselves performing a task, or actually doing it. Visualization leverages our brain’s natural ability to more easily recall visual images than it does verbal information.
So, before you go into that big meeting, use this technique to imagine yourself handling the tough questions using the new skills you learned in that communication class; or, before that key interview, apply visualization to “see” yourself navigating the process with ease.
Have you ever caught yourself saying: “I’ll never get this right.” I have. Until I realized I have a choice of what to tell myself. Why not choose something positive instead? For example: “This is hard, but I will figure it out.”
When we repeat negative messages to ourselves, we may set off the “fight, flight or freeze” alarms in our brain. When those start to fire, we begin to react, rather than to respond rationally, to the perceived situation. We may be swamped by anxiety and distress and less able to use our executive functions of rational thought and analysis. So, why handicap ourselves with negative self-talk?
We found some great examples of how to reshape self-talk. In her Harvard Business Review article, “The Thought-Patterns of Success”, https://hbr.org/2012/04/the-thought-patterns-of-succes/ Elizabeth Grace Saunders outlines the difference between helpful and harmful mental constructs. Check it out. Replace your negative constructs with those that are more realistic and helpful for your success.