In this episode, I cover the multiple uses and benefits of visualization, and how you can overcome things that are driving you crazy.
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Welcome to the Second Mix Podcast where we reflect, revise, and remix our lives. My name is Matthew Bennett and this is episode 18 – I’m glad to be with you today.
Visualization is probably my top, #1 technique in terms of usability and versatility. I actually learned this long ago, and throughout my life it was exceptionally helpful.
Since my real journey didn’t begin until a couple of years ago, I can reflect and see how many other places I could have used visualization to remix things in my life that would have gotten me better results.
Visualization, as I originally learned it, is a technique where you essentially practice in your head. So there were stories about Vietnam POWs who spent 5 years in a prison camp, and came back as better golfers because they spent the entire time visualizing practicing their golf swing. I cannot and won’t verify these stories, first and foremost because I have my own story that is hard to ignore.
I was so scared to get on the stage in sing at at 16/17 years old. Not with the whole choir, that was fine. But envisioning myself alone on the stage in a solo, or speaking, I got nervous just thinking about it.
The Christmas before I turned 18 my dad bought me a set of motivation tapes for my age group, and much of what I learned I neglected to apply. But I did apply visualization – maybe because the example used directly applied to me.
The speaker, Bob Moawad, said, “Do you know that some musicians, instead of picturing how nervous they will be on stage, will picture how comfortable they will be? While they practice their instrument, they also envision themselves being absolutely comfortable on the stage.”
I thought, “Wow, that is something that I can do.” And from that day forward, every single time I practiced the piano and sang, I was mentally on the stage, doing what I was meant to do, and completely comfortable in front of an audience of thousands. I could hear the coughing in the crowd between songs, the applause, I could see the joy on the faces of the people hearing the music I was creating. Every time I practice piano and singing alone at home, I am on stage in front of people.
From the day I began visualizing, I have never, ever been nervous on stage. To a fault, sometimes – because I’d do things on stage that I shouldn’t have done. Nothing evil, but it probably didn’t look good to reach inside my shirt and scratch my armpit that one time.
This was the complete and utter destruction of a negative script that I had going on in my head. “I am nervous on stage.” That was only true because I believed it was true, and I acted out my perceived truth. As soon as I visualized being comfortable and saw that this actually worked, I replaced it with “I am comfortable on the stage.” And from that day forward I believed it and lived it. I still do. Throw me up there with a piano and a microphone in front of millions, and heck, yeah, I’ll play and sing. I might even scratch my armpit in a moment of unawareness.
My second run in with visualization happened during martial arts training. Seems naïve now, but when I began automatically blocking punches, or doing some move correctly after practicing it 500 times, I was surprised that it worked.
You do what you practice, and you can practice in your head. I wondered how far I could carry this. Could I take situations that were frustrating, situations that happened in my head, and instead of playing them out as the loser, could I play them out in my head as the winner?
What if my boss yells at me, or my coworkers all begin to make fun of me? What if this or that bad or uncomfortable thing happened to me? What about this one thing that I worry about all the time, even though it’s unlikely to ever happen?
Can I imagine those situations in a new way, and practice a well-thought-out version of what I would do? If I practice enough, will that be what I actually do if the situation arises in real life?
The answer is yes
We’ve all rehearsed before. With our parents or significant others, when we’ve had to tell them something that was difficult to say, we’ve all done it. We can apply that same practice to the rest of our lives.
Write down things that you currently believe about yourself that don’t have to be true. Beliefs that you don’t have to believe anymore. Things that just aren’t true. Question what works in your life, and what doesn’t. Question what controls your attitude.
When my spouse acts like this I get so angry…
You can say anything about me, just never call me stupid…
These are buttons to be pushed. Sometimes we create them just so we can say cool things about ourselves, which actually aren’t that cool. Or we saw them in a movie and decided to act the same way. And then we end up believing them. That’s a dangerous game.
Sometimes we don’t consciously select our buttons. It doesn’t matter. Visualization will dissolve all of them you are able to find. I believed that I had certain buttons, that if they were pushed, I would definitely act in a certain way. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have ditched all of my buttons, at least the ones I have so far discovered on this journey. I’m actually looking forward to finding more, and rewriting that code as well. Reprogram your responses to these situations.
It is pure freedom to be able to say, “I have no buttons that you can push.”
Visualization is versatile, because you can practice your real-life situation in your head, like rehearsing a speech and visualizing not only how well you do, but how good you will feel doing it.
You can practice for any situation that you don’t like, or don’t want to happen, so that if it does happen, you already have a response prepared – you won’t be left floundering, because you’ve already worked out what you would do. When Person X does, this, instead of overreacting, I’m going to do this.
You can visualize being the person you want to be, instead of living out all of your negative scripts. We are all so full of negative scripts that we still believe from the past, start to work on those
And finally, you can use it as a strategy to build good habits. If you want to go to the gym every day after work, you can mentally rehearse getting in the car, driving to the gym, working out, and then getting home. When all the excuses pop up during the day, the amazing reasons your brain will pull out of the bottomless well of excuses, instead of fighting that impulse, just fill your head instead with a rehearsal of getting in the car, driving to the gym, working out.
So how can you apply visualizations, today, this week, this season?
Will you rewrite a story about something you constantly worry about?
Will you examine things that make you angry and write a new story about how those things just don’t make you angry any more?
Will you mentally rehearse finally picking up (or dropping) that habit that you’ve thought about for years?
Click on the link in the description, it’ll take you to the Second Mix Facebook group, and tell me what you are going to change through visualization in the near future. I’ll let you know mine, on that page, in the group, and we can talk about these things and cheer each other on.
Thanks for listening to the Second Mix Podcast, once again, I am Matthew Bennett. You can grab this transcript on the blog at secondmix.net. If you have any questions send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you!
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Take steps that will make your week incredible. I’ll be back on Monday – this weekend continue reflecting, revising and remixing your life. I’ll see you soon!