A psychiatrist who suffered chronic neck pain for 13 years treated it himself when nothing else would work. He had tried painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, hypnosis and rest but none of these treatments made a dent in his pain. Instead, he used neuroplasticity research to develop a technique where he visualised his brain overpowering the pain. And it worked.
Visualisation is clearly an incredibly powerful tool, with uses way beyond pain management. I have been studying as a postgraduate student for the past two years. The first year was fairly cruisy; I was in my element researching and writing about how social media has disrupted traditional journalism.
At the end of last year I had an academic test that pushed me way outside my comfort zone. I had to speak about my research, including discussing theorists, research methods and where I predicted my research would lead. And I had 10 minutes to do this, with another five minutes for questions. I’ve spoken in public and shared my expertise many times, but this felt different to me. Academia is a space I am not completely comfortable in yet (and I often feel like a fraud, but that’s a whole other post) and so this presentation was a challenge.
Like the psychiatrist above, I used visualisation to overcome my apprehension. I spent time in the days before my presentation (and during the two-hour drive to uni) visualising myself standing tall as I spoke, looking my peers, lecturers and supervisors in the eye and making sense. To make this visual stick, I kept repeating to myself the following affirmation: “I will eloquently explain my research within the time limit and answer all questions succinctly”. And that’s exactly what happened. I finished my last slide as the timer struck 10 minutes and handled each question like I’d done it hundreds of times before.
My visualisation tips are:
- Be very clear about the image you are creating in your mind, right down to the fine details
- Think on this image multiple times – the more the better
- Back up the image with strong words.
Visual references are so powerful. The saying, “a picture tells a thousand words,” says it all, really. Visualising an image over and over again overwrites the negative thoughts and replaces them with something much better. We can essentially train our brain to succeed.
How have you used visualisation in your business?