By Estra Roell, Certified Life Coach
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Ellen stood at the podium, looking out at the group of people in front of her. She could feel her heart pounding and her mouth and throat went dry. Her hands shook and her mind went blank. This was the worst moment of her life.
Everybody, like Ellen, has something that they are afraid of. Fear is a painful emotion that can sabotage our happiness and hold us back throughout our lives. Fear keeps us from taking action and activates the “flight-flight-or-freeze” response in the brain.
Public speaking is a number one fear that can interfere with your advancement in your career or business. Fear of a scary diagnosis or medical procedure can keep you from seeking the medical help you need. Fear of blowing the job interview can actually cause you to be so nervous you do just that. When we fear something we actually create the very thing we fear.
Dale Carnegie famously said, “Fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.”
Visualization is a powerful tool to help you face and overcome your fears.
You can train your brain for actual performance through “mental rehearsal.” Brain studies show that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions, and it is a technique used widely by top athletes.
Visualization is a great way to communicate to your subconscious mind.
When you mentally rehearse performing with calm, confidence, courage and competence, your visual image will, with practice, be received by your subconscious mind as your new reality and be expressed outwardly in your life.
When you are fearing something, you are already visualizing it, but you are visualizing what you don’t want—the worst possible outcome. So, practice visualizing the opposite of that—the best possible outcome.
If you want to overcome a fear, it’s good to regularly imagine yourself as a success.
Your self-image will be be changed in a positive direction when you feed your mind mental pictures of yourself performing at your best with ease.
Here are the steps to visualizing:
1. Find a quiet place, free from distractions and interruptions.
Sit or lie in a comfortable position. You want to make sure you aren’t distracted by aches or pains. You may want to play soft music or light a candle to create a relaxing atmosphere. 10 to 15 minutes before bed is a good time to practice visualization, but any time that works for you is fine.
2. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and steadily as you begin to imagine your success.
3. Be realistic with your visualization.
You want to visualize your success in a way it could actually happen. For example, if you are visualizing yourself speaking before a group, see yourself speaking clearly and with confidence. “Feel” your heart rate remaining stable and calm. See yourself answering questions easily.
Imagine at the end of your talk, you receive lots of applause and many people come up to you later and say what they liked about your talk. See yourself thanking them with grace and appreciation. Feel how glad you are that your talk helped them in some way.
If you imagine yourself giving the talk of the century with a wild standing ovation and cheering crowds, that is less likely to happen and your process can backfire on you by causing frustration and disappointment.
4. You may need to visualize the steps to your success.
If you feel overwhelmed with fear involving a big task or health challenge, you can break it down into steps. Make a plan of what needs to happen, step by step to reach your goal.
Then, visualize yourself easily and confidently accomplishing the first step.
Take action on that step. When it’s done, go back and repeat the process for the next step, and so on. That way you get positive experiences all along the way, which is very reinforcing.
5. Include what you want to feel and hear in your visualization to make it vivid.
6. It can help to write down the picture you want to visualize before you practice it to get all the juicy details clear.
You can “pre-pave” any experience or situation you want through the practice of visualization. The key word here is practice. We’ve all had years of imagining what we fear as an outcome. Regular practicing of visualizing positive scenarios and outcomes will empower you with the courage to create it in your life.
Estra Roell, Certified LOA and Life Purpose Coach – www.AmericasLifePurposecoach.com
(Brain studies reference: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/flourish/ 200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization)