Mental resistance works just like physical resistance:
I remember when I was focused on martial arts years ago and wanting to speed up the progress I was making in speed and endurance with kicks and punches. I decided it would be a good idea to put ankle weights and wrist weights on while I was working out on my kickbag. It made the whole process of working out and practising techniques harder and emphasised a couple of challenges that I hadn’t thought of. One of those was the challenge of momentum when the intended target was missed resulting in a loss of balance and over rotation (particularly with high kicks).
Valuable lessons though, because you aren’t always going to hit your target are you. The solution, rather than trying to stop or slow the momentum, was to continue or even speed up the momentum and convert it into the other leg following through or an upper body technique such as a backfist strike.
These are the things you start to discover when you push yourself physically that you can deal with ahead of the time you’ll really need them. And creating extreme, or at least enhanced resistance is a common way to build endurance and stamina that ‘normal’ training just can’t get to.
Resistance is not futile, it’s strength building.
Athletes have done this for many years. Training at altitude so the body adjusts to working with less oxygen and therefore finds it easier when returned to a normal level is a classic example. Or the rugby player whom runs dragging a concrete filled tyre; or the rower who tows a bucket behind them creating resistance. And of course one of the most common uses of physical resistance; lifting weights at the gym. All of these things are unrealistic in the context of what the athlete will face on a day to day basis while competing. But in doing them, the reality becomes much easier.
So what if applying the same concept to mental rehearsal and visualising could give you the same benefits?
As I’ve stated before; the mind cannot tell the difference between something that is vividly imagined and something that is real. Studies have shown for instance that a group of basketball players can get the same or better improvement over those who do no practice, by practising/imagining in their mind getting the ball in the hoop, as those whom actually physically practice!
And in your mind you can make things as extreme as you like and still get the desired result. That’s not always the case physically.
Mental challenge creates mental resilience:
So are most people missing a valuable asset by not using their imagination to make things challenging in the mind in order to make them easier in reality?
I think so.
But wait I hear you say; if I imagine things worse than I actually want them, don’t I run the risk of manifesting that as popular LOA teachings would have me believe?
How many times have you imagined the worst happening only to find you’ve spent all that time worrying for nothing? I know I have. So did all that imagining create that reality? No.
And remember what I said at the beginning of this article about visualisation/imagining/mental rehearsal being primarily for the purpose of practising being in the right positive state of mind for the event or context your imagining? That’s the key here. Of course in the case of worrying, you are not practising a good state of mind are you. And what I’m going to suggest here is that you’re going to practice future times in your mind while feeling resourceful and getting the result you want. So this is quite different.
And by the way; there is evidence to suggest that people who are able to imagine their worst scariest scenarios without obsessing over them actually then experience less fear and worry when anything approaching that in reality happens.
Because what they have done in effect is face their fears and come out OK. Like people who go to scary movies all the time and enjoy them. In that case they tend to have a feeling about the fear (what in NLP we call a meta state) that makes the fear more subtle. Like enjoyment of fear or thrill of being scared as examples.
The advanced mental rehearsal process:
So lets do this.
I’ll describe it first and then give an example.
You have all the info you need above to make your imagination a powerful tool in creating the future you desire.
Pick an event, person, or context you’d like to have more resourcefulness with.
Start with the sensory system (like visual or auditory etc) that is easiest for you when imagining a future time.
Note: You can if you like and find it easier, use a past example of a time that you want to improve in the future, and then adjust the way it looks, sounds and feels to be a future event instead of a past one. Location in your minds eye will be one change you’ll want to notice here. If you compare in your mind something that has happened with something that will happen, you will notice differences in the quality and type of these senses.
This is just an added idea though and not necessary for his process. Relax, you can’t get this wrong. You will always get benefit from doing such exercises if you go easy on yourself and are willing to learn and have fun experimenting.Intention is everything.
So; starting with your current favourite sense, create in your mind this future time by adding in other senses (mapping them across remember) and adding in movement (creating a short movie clip) that approximates the reality to come. Don’t even try to make it perfect, that’s not the goal.
Get some familiarity with this construction. Play around with it a bit and get it so that you imagine yourself acting and feeling totally focused and resourceful and getting just the result that you want. This is your construction; you get to decide how it looks, feels and sounds; how you behave and what positive results you get. Get the feeling in your body that matches that. If you need to, remember a time from the past when you did feel that way and hold that feeling as you add it to the mental rehearsal you’re engaged in.
Once you have that going and you like what you imagine, now’s the time to add in the mental resistance while maintaining the feeling. So imagine something really crappy happening, like the person rejecting you, or the microphone breaking down, or a huge rat running into the scene. Seriously, make it absurd even like your pants falling down. Then imagine, while remaining in that positive state, handling it like it’s almost not even there.
So the person rejects you openly and you smile, say thanks for sharing who you are, and excuse yourself to go and talk to someone nice.
The microphone breaks down and you make a joke of pretending to start it like a chainsaw before putting it down, asking whomever is in charge of such things to let you know when it’s fixed, and continuing by projecting your voice towards the back of the room.
The rat runs in, you offer it a seat, and make the comment that even the wildlife like what you’re saying, lol.
Your pants fall down, you pull them back up without missing a beat, and comment on how the current clothing manufacturing has gone completely pants and that they should buckle up their ideas cause we demand more from our buttons.
Get the idea?
Again this is a fun process and you are building in the mental resilience to handle anything that comes your way.
Remember also to do this with different future times, people and places in mind. So repeat it a few times each time you do this with different variables added. And if you want this change to be a general one rather than in one or two contexts, then make one of the variables context itself. Like at work, and while doing your favourite hobby, while relating to your partner, dealing with critical superiors etc.
You will very quickly find after doing this for a while that normal life situations, and even extreme ones will feel naturally easy to you.
Don’t be too concerned (visually) as to whether you see this all happening as if through your own eye’s or if you see yourself in the movie like it’s being played to you. Either way will get powerful results.
If you are someone whom likes details and distinctions to maximise results though then the ideal is this- see through your own eye’s as if you’re actually living it while you’re doing the process as this will generate more powerful feelings. And then when you finish, step out of the movie and leave it as if you can see yourself in the picture because this sets up a kind of pull that the mind finds attractive.
Putting mental rehearsal together:
So lets run through a real life example to settle the idea in your mind.
Lets say you want more confidence approaching that girl or guy you fancy at work.
I’ll use girl for my example. If you happen to be a squirrel reading this then that cute squirrel in the other tree will do nicely.
For me the easiest place to start is with an image of her outside at lunch time for example. First though I remember a time when I felt unstoppable, sexy and humorous. I then imagine, while holding that feeling inside, walking across to her with the biggest smile on my face and hearing the tree leaves rustling (could be that cute squirrel eh), feeling the breeze on my face as it also blows her hair, and smelling the scent of the flowers that I can see out of the corner of my eye. As I approach her and say hi (still smiling) the other workers around us start sniggering and laughing and making loser comments while pointing at me (that’s the resistance bit). If something like that is too strong though and takes you out of your positive feeling state then start less intense and work up to it ok!?. Only do this bit by bit as long as you maintain the good feeling state and can therefore still imagine handling this extreme example resourcefully and still getting the desired result.
How you feel while doing this is key.
So in my mind, while the co-workers are doing those things, I am still smiling and I look at her directly in the eyes and say “just as well you and I are mature and pleasant enough to ignore their failed attempt to stop us from having a friendly conversation.” “I really like the way you laugh often during work and seem to see the fun side of life” “I bet you have some cool friends to”… and I imagine then having a friendly conversation and her smiling at me ALOT and laughing. It doesn’t have to be a long movie, and I can repeat it by imagining doing the same type of thing the next day at the water cooler, next week over a coffee at a cafe and so on.
It matters not if I ever even get to talk to her for some reason; the power is in the fact that my mind now has a reference experience to draw upon in the future as if I’ve already acted that way before.
Have fun with this.
I remember an ex prime minister of NZ, David Lange saying that “If you’re talking to a group of people and the walls all suddenly fall down around you; you have to look like you were out the back organising it 20 minutes earlier!”
What a great line.
And that’s the attitude you can build by mental rehearsal.
Enjoy, and remember to go easy on yourself.
Funny; there seems to be a lot of squirrel activity going on in the trees around here now. 🙂
What if you make the decision right now to do what you know at the deepest level you want to; even if what you then discover is that it’s not what you want after all!