Did you know that athletes visualize their wins, and that doing this has been proven to actually increase their performance?
Our brains do a fantastic job of making what we think and feel come true. However, it works both ways. “Victory Visualization” is a sort of self-talk, which is ultimately an active form of cognitive conditioning. In other words, whether you tell yourself certain things or visualize certain outcomes, your brain is going to do everything in its power to make that cognitive conditioning come true. Of course, your brain has immense power and control. It plays a big role in determining how smooth you are on your date, how you do on your morning run, and every other aspect of your life.
Here’s the problem: A lot of people are their own worst critic. They talk poorly to themselves. They worry about failures, and visualize those failures. They tell themselves they aren’t good enough, smart enough, or didn’t try hard enough. That’s a lot more dangerous than we think. Our brains are taking that information and making those things come true.
If we consciously practice cognitive reconditioning and “victory vision,” we have the power to task our brain and encourage it to make what we want a reality. Whether you want a promotion, a great date, or to have access to elite and luxury items that you dream about, visualizing the outcome in the way you’d like it to play out can work wonders. Here’s how to do it:
- It’s all about conscious fantasies. Whether you want a used Mercedes-Benz for a steal because you’re such a smooth talker, a PR in your 10k, or to reignite the romance in your relationship, fantasize about it on a regular basis. However, the key is to also make these fantasies realistic. Not even your powerful brain can materialize billions of dollars in your bank account overnight. When you practice this kind of fantasizing, you’re metaphorically living realistic scenarios. It’s like practice, and practice makes perfect.
- Stop negative images and self-talk. Some of us are tougher on ourselves than others, but the good news is that we’re in total control of it. If you catch yourself talking negatively to yourself (i.e. “I’ll never lose weight”) or visualizing poor scenarios, accept that you slipped up and forgive yourself. Move forward.
- Give yourself a nickname. This isn’t for everyone, but it can be highly effective. Talking to yourself in the second person (you) can help you be kinder to yourself. You can also give yourself a positive nickname. If this feels silly to you, don’t worry—it’s not a requirement. However, you can always give it a shot and remember that it doesn’t have to be spoken aloud. This can solely be your internal voice.
- Some people find it very helpful to physically write about their goals and how to achieve them. Others might write poetry or create short stories that ultimately showcase the achievement they’d like to tackle. If this appeals to you, try to write by hand rather than type. This helps the brain process better because many of us type faster than we think.
- Be aware of who you’re around. You can’t completely control everyone in your life, but if you have a lot of negative influences, that’s going to play a role in how you see yourself. Do what you can to assess your relationships and either address or toss negative relationships. Breakups can be good and healthy (and this includes friendships). For those relationships you can’t ditch, such as a colleague, do what you can to distance yourself and come up with defenses that allow you to protect yourself.
- Find your inspiration. There’s a time and a place for sadness and tears. It’s healthy. However, if you find yourself only listening to sad music or watching dramas, you’re likely lacking a little external motivation and inspiration. For entertainment, try to add in some options that mirror what you’d like to achieve. Amateur boxers have long watched “Rocky” on repeat, and for good reason. When you see a character you relate to achieving what you want to achieve, it makes you feel like it’s a little more possible. It will also give you fresh ideas when it comes to conscientious fantasizing.
You and your brain have a lot more power than you think. Get in control and start visualizing and directing your future. It’s easier than you think.