One thing I've been exploring more is the topic of visualization.
You've likely heard of this from sports, Olympic athletes, or maybe someone like Tony Robbins.
Visualization is the act of mentally practicing, viewing, or experiencing something that is in the future, or that you'd like to be in the future.
It's a form of training. NBA stars, NFL kickers… they visualize what they want to happen before it happens.
Because the brain can't tell much difference between reality, or visualization, in your head the event is relatively the same, minus the higher definition details and emotions of reality.
But being able to visualize is a superpower. As I mentioned, when you're brain doesn't know the difference between real life and imagination, the imagination can create helpful scenes that allow you to practice in real life. Not with the same efficacy, but with practice you can gain more comfort with a situation purely through mentally running through it.
And it makes sense.
If you think of something right now… Think of an elephant. Think of an elephant and a Circus tent…
You likely brought an image up in your brain purely from reading that.
This image, appearing in your mind, which in some capacity appears within the scene of your physical environment is not too dissimilar from a memory.
The image of the elephant, and the image of, say, your 10th birthday, when you were sitting at a table with your family, ready to blow out the candles on a cake…
These are relatively the same in terms of their current reality.
And so Visualization takes advantage of the fact that many images and memories have an equal weighting in your experience.
And so if these memories can be equal, why not fantasy? Why not imagination?
As kids, we spent so much of our time in a state of imagination.
At the time these imaginations were pure fantasy.
But as adults, we have more control and leadership over our own internal states, and so we can hone the craft of using visualization not as pure fantasy (although that's fun, too) but instead as tools for practice.
We can prepare, using closer-to-real life details based on experience.
We can utilize visualization to picture ourselves acting as how we'd like to be in certain scenarios.
If this sounds hard, or weird, or scary, just remember that you've been fantasizing and imagining your entire life.
You literally have been building this skill for decades. You just haven't realized that this tool can be helpful in more practical ways, in work or in competition.
That you can turn it on right now, and it's free.
Of course, it will take some practice, so let me share a few tips with you to get started…
Tips for trying Visualization
1. When you visualize, find the most comfortable space you can.
Go to a warm island, or a cozy cabin, don't force it just arrive in a place where you feel safe and comfortable.
2. Recognize that the laws of reality don't apply in visualization. Sometimes it IS helpful to use impossible-in-reality additions to aid in your practice or development.
For example, you can have people appear or disappear, and you can even have yourself twice, or speak with yourself, or observe yourself.
3. Notice the objects that naturally occur.
Notice how close or how far they are from you. Notice the size of things.
In dreams, as in visualizations, how close or far something is to us is symbolic of importance, as is size, and as is color.
4. Bring in more senses into the scene.
Listen, see if you can hear anything or touch anything. It's tough to smell but you can sort of picture it if it's a strong scent like cut grass.
5. Act as your own guide.
Write to yourself. Design the scene of how you please. This is a gift that you have full control over and no one else. Don't wait for things to happen – make things happen. But let it be natural.
I would describe more about the types of things that you can do with this but that would probably be limiting…
You can practice a speech, or a warm-up, or a conversation, or you can visualize habits going well, you getting things you're interested in.
This primes your mind for future experiences.
You can also just use it to feel good.
John McCain is said to have played golf in his head, while is was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Of course, it's better to have the real thing.
And of course, sometimes it's pure fantasy.
But when you can create your own experiences in a contained environment that also can teach you things…
Why not use that gift?