How your imagination can help you achieve your goals
The brain doesn’t distinguish between real experiences or imaginary ones. Research has shown when you imagine yourself doing something your brain will fire up similar circuitry to when you do the task for real. This is hugely significant when it comes to our personal growth, our performance, well-being and mental health.
If you practice something badly, if you practice poor technique, you’ll develop poor technique, right? Well, the same can be said when you use your imagination.
If you’re anxious about doing something, such as an exam, a presentation, getting on a plane and you imagine your worst fears happening – going blank, feeling sick, raising heart, stumbling and mumbling, you’re literally priming your brain to do exactly that.
You're practising badly.
If there’s one thing I want my daughter to really understand it’s the power of her imagination and how directing it effectively can literally change how we think, feel and behave.
A really simple way to introduce this idea to your kids is to explain how they can use their imagination when they have to practice and then perform something such as a sport.
When you’re anxious, it’s really easy to allow your imagination to run riot which is why having an awareness of this stuff is so important.
If you’re about to shoot a penalty under pressure the worst thing you can do is imagine missing the shot. You want to imagine doing the shot really, really well. You want to imagine connecting with the ball in just the right spot and kicking it straight into the goal. Use your imagination to prime your brain and body to do what you want to do.
Mentally rehearsing in a positive constructive way is a real-life skill and something that over time becomes a habit. Of course, we all have moments when our monkey mind runs amuck and we’re visualising the wheels falling off, but the more we’re aware of this stuff the easier it is to consciously direct our attention back to where we want to go.