On this 20th day of Building a Better You, we’re going to talk about the power of visualization. When you visualize what you want to happen instead of what you fear will happen, you’re more likely to create the future you want. Or should I say, the Christmas you want.
Do you tend to expect the worst? Even if something good happens, you wonder how it will go wrong.
If you said yes even just a little bit, you’re not alone. It’s really very human to nervously to think through potential worst-case scenarios. Some people can do it calmly, but others become overcome with anxiety to the point that they can’t enjoy the present moment.
Our human ability to visualize the future, what we want, or what we don’t want, is quite keen. If we teach our brains to visualize opportunities and possibilities instead of disaster we can accomplish quite a lot.
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Visualization is like a dress rehearsal for the future you want
Author Sharon Begley uses layman’s terms in her book Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain to reveal what’s going on “under the hood” of our brains where we may not have an awareness of, or access to. Train Your Mind describes one study by neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone that examined the unconscious working of the brain.1
- One group of research participants mentally practiced a 5-finger sequences on an imaginary piano for 2 hours per day
- The other group physically practiced the same passage on an actual piano for the same amount of time
Guess what? Both groups experienced the same neurological changes and reduction in the number of mistakes.
The mental, or visualization, practices was just as good as the actual practice on the real piano!
Current brain research points to the fact that mental practice – if done “correctly” – activates the same brain regions as physical practice. It may even lead to the same changes in neural structure and synaptic connectivity.
We can apply the piano lesson to being home for the holidays
Mentally rehearsing the end result we want – or visualizing it – can make a significant difference in your future. Why do theatre companies have dress rehearsal? To get ready for opening night.
Visualize a happy holiday time with relatives and in-laws this year. The more you imagine it, the more likely you are to show up and the best person you can be.
Get Curious. What would happen if you expected the best? Go to the place of possibilities. Daydream about the future you want to happen and ask yourself these questions.
- Notice what you are wearing and how comfortable and good you feel.
- What am I saying to others as they are smiling back at me?
- How am I showing up and then leaving the gathering a better time after I have been there?
- Watch all the other people in your future daydream. How are they interacting that feels good?
- When Aunt Gerri asks me an uncomfortable personal question, what am I saying so that I enforce a boundary, feel good about myself, and others seem content too.
- Look at how calm and content everyone is and how they are having a good time.
- How do I feel, since everything is going well?
This is your future daydream you create it as you want and then bring whatever you envisioned in the future back to the present and do it, wear it and be it. Have fun with your future too.
The results of your Self interview tell you the roadmap you need to get to that place of confidence and success.
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1Pascual-Leone, A. et al. “Modulation of Muscle Responses Evoked by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation during the Acquisition of New Fine Motor Skills.” Journal of Neurophysiology 74.3 (1995): 1037–1045. Print.