The mind-body connection fascinates me. The human brain is by far the most powerful super computer in the world, and is capable of many miracles if you set your mind to it.
The most overlooked part of training for most people is the brain. The power that mindset has to influence results in your body is not often discussed, but is a secret that elite athletes and performers use every day – even if they don’t think about it.
In this post we are going to focus on visualization. You might have heard of athletes or other performers using visualization as a way to improve performance and focus in their training. Have you ever considered how you can use visualization to improve your training and performance?
Visualization and the powerful effects your imagination can have on your reality were first documented by plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz in his seminal book ‘Psycho Cybernetics.’ In the book, Maltz refers to your subconscious mind as an automatic mechanism that acts on your imagination to create in reality what you see in your mind.
He states that, depending on your mindset, you have either an automatic success mechanism, or an automatic failure mechanism built into your brain. Obviously an automatic success mechanism sounds more useful, right?
Further, by using the power of your automatic success mechanism, you are tapping into some of that untold computing power and letting that go to work on creating your success in reality.
The self-image is the view that you hold of yourself, in your mind. It is how you perceive yourself, the kind of person you believe yourself to be. It is malleable and depends a lot on the language that you use when talking to or about yourself.
For example, someone who sees themselves as a fit, healthy person that enjoys working out and values eating right is not going to struggle too much to meet their fitness goals. Meanwhile, someone who thinks of themselves as lazy, unmotivated and a junk food lover is going to struggle.
The simple explanation is that the latter person’s self-image does not match that of a fit, healthy person. They cannot engage in the required behaviors to become fit and healthy, because in their mind, that is not who they are.
This is extremely powerful and is why some people are what you might call ‘naturals’, while others continue to struggle. You cannot use willpower to ‘hack’ your self-image. The subconscious mind is too strong and will always win out.
This leaves us with one key understanding. To create change, we must change our self-image.
How do we change our self-image?
We can use the power of visualization to change how we perceive ourselves. It’s not easy, and it can take time, but it is the ‘missing link’ for a lot of people. Even with the best of intentions, setting meaningful goals, lots of willpower and even professional help, if the self-image does not change, you will not see the results you’re hoping for.
Sometimes the self-image changes naturally as you start to see positive results, but the more you can ensure it changes the better your results will be.
You want to build a really strong vision of where you want to be. You want to be able to see and more importantly feel what it will be like to achieve your goals.
Your body does not know the difference between reality and imagination. If you can create the feelings of success in your mind, it will go to work creating the feelings of success in reality.
Here’s how to do it:
This is a skill that will become easier with practice. It might be difficult and fuzzy to begin with, but with repeated effort it will become easier, more vivid and more powerful.
Spend a couple of minutes with your eyes closed imagining yourself with your dream body. Think about how you will look. Think about the outfit you would wear, the way you would move, the look on your face.
Think about how you will feel, knowing that you have achieved this. How you will feel in certain situations – say a social situation. How will other people react to you? The compliments they will give, questions they will ask, or even the way the opposite sex checks you out.
Think about the internal dialogue you would have. Think about how you will feel while getting dressed, while getting undressed, when going shopping for clothes.
What you are trying to do is go into a life-like visualization that is based on feelings. When you trigger the right feeling, the imagery will follow and with it, all of the other senses.
It’s the feelings that really make an impact. Human beings are feeling machines that can think – not thinking machines that can feel. Get the feelings driving the thinking and you unlock a powerful asset for creating change in your life.
Bringing It Back to Reality
The power of the visualization is how it builds the belief that you are the sort of person who achieves the results you’re hoping for. The more clearly you can imagine it, the stronger your belief becomes and the more your self-image lines up with that of someone who is in great shape.
When you perceive yourself as that fit, healthy person, implementing the required behaviors to achieve it feels natural. It no longer feels like a battle, trying to do things that you are not naturally predisposed to doing. Now it is just who you are. You default to the behaviors of that fit, healthy person.
Putting it to action and making it a reality simply becomes a matter of time. The more powerful your visualization, the more excitement and motivation you will feel to achieve it.