“The person that you are right now is a reflection of what you practice most. When you look in the mirror, what does your reflection say about the habits you practice?”
– Valorie Burton
Your mental images, or thoughts, lead to reality. Therefore, before you can achieve your goals, you must be able to picture yourself achieving them and understand what steps to take to get there.
Even though we use mental imagery to our advantage every day, it is difficult to define it exactly. The bottom line is that consistently positive mental imagery helps you program a high-quality performance into your brain and nervous system, and then it allows you to free your body and follow through.
In order to perfect imagery skills, many athletes find it helpful to imagine themselves performing tasks perfectly right before before a competitive performance. This process strengthens confidence by tapping into the emotional centers of the brain. When an athlete experiences the feeling of a quality performance, he can give his full attention to the task at hand.
Once you decide to make positive mental imagery a habit, you must execute the strategy. Here are four strategies for practicing mental imagery:
- Focus on your goal.
- Remind yourself of your personal keys to success.
- Improve your imagery skills.
- Set the stage for an improved performance.
In the wise words of Valorie Burton, “The person that you are right now is a reflection of what you practice most. When you look in the mirror, what does your reflection say about the habits you practice?” Since mental imagery is such a crucial stepping-stone in the process of performance, practice matters. If you wish to improve in any area of life, you must develop healthy habits, and the only way to develop healthy habits is to practice them consistently. The world’s best athletes have well-developed imagery skills, and they use positive imagery to overcome obstacles, imagine themselves succeeding in competition, and strengthen their belief in their ability to achieve their ultimate goals.
The idea practicing mental imagery might seem foreign, but it really takes only a few minutes of practice every day. Get into the habit of practicing for 10-15 minutes at a time; when you take your time and move into it gradually, it will become second nature. You can use mental imagery to learn new routines, plays or patterns, and to familiarize yourself with a particular competition site. If you can hear yourself, see yourself, and feel yourself perform the way you want to, you will be better prepared to respond in a real-world situation.
When it comes to mental imagery, your attitude and mindset are what truly matters. Mental images will not benefit you unless they are positive—positive imagery will carry you through a challenge, but negative imagery will not. You have the choice to imagine your own reality, but if you focus on the negative outcome, you will not be able to perform well.
Focus on the goal, but do not forget to focus on the goal you can control. There is no use wasting emotional and mental energy on a discouraging outcome. If you can imagine the passion and focus you want to bring to practice and feel the perfect execution of important skills, you will make your image a positive reality.