Instant Confidence: The Power to Go for Anything You Want by Paul McKenna PH.D. (2016)
DEVELOPING THE CONFIDENCE HABIT
The Movies in Your Mind
A Natural Ability
Have you ever heard someone say, “I just can’t see myself doing that?”
“I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head.”
This phrase more than any other acts as a command to your unconscious mind, preventing you from accessing your innermost confident resources.
Yet in my experience, everybody has the ability to visualize. To prove this to yourself, answer the following questions:
1. What color is your front door?
2. Which side is the handle on?
In order to answer either of these questions, you had to go into your imagination and make a picture. These pictures will not be “photo quality”—and that’s a good thing. We need to be able to see the difference between what’s real and what’s imaginary.
Let’s try an experiment …
I’d like you to remember a time when you felt good.
Return to it as though you are back there right now. See what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel how good you felt. Go through the memory a couple of times, remembering new details each time …
The reason you are probably feeling pretty good right now is simple:
THE HUMAN NERVOUS SYSTEM CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A REAL AND A VIVIDLY IMAGINED EXPERIENCE.
When we think about happy memories, we re-create the happy feeling associated with them. When we think about times in the past where we felt bad, we re-create those feelings as well.
But just as with your internal voice, it’s not just what we choose to picture in our minds but the way we do it that’s important.
For example …
Remember that happy memory again, but this time make the image larger than life size. Make it even bigger, brighter, and more colorful. Do it now!
Generally speaking, images that are bigger, brighter, and more colorful have greater emotional intensity than those that are smaller, duller, and dimmer.
You can use the same technique to take the emotion out of a negative memory …
Think of a mildly unpleasant experience from your past. Float out of yourself so that you can see the back of your head as you push the picture of the memory off into the distance. When it’s at least 20 feet away, shrink the image down and drain the color out until it’s black and white. As you see whatever it was that happened to that other you “over there,” you can fade it out completely until it is no more than a dim and distant part of your past …
What’s Playing Between Your Ears?
All champion athletes use visualization as a deliberate training tool, imagining winning an event over and over again in their mind until their mind and body know exactly what it is they want to do.
“The human race is governed by its imagination.”
As you become more aware of your internal world, you will realize that you too are unconsciously making little movies in your mind all day long. These “mind movies” affect your feelings and, in turn, determine your levels of confidence and subsequent behavior.
For example, if you are due to give a presentation and all you do is make movies in your imagination of you looking nervous and forgetting what you are going to say, then you will create feelings of fear and discomfort in yourself that will make you dread giving the presentation.
If, on the other hand, you make a movie in your mind of a friendly group of people who are fascinated by what you have to say and you imagine the words flowing easily as you engage your audience fully and completely, then you are going to feel much more confident about giving the presentation.
There are many applications of this principle, and much scientific evidence to back it up. New research into “mental architecture” has shown that consistent patterns of thought and behavior actually lead to physical changes in the shape of the brain, suggesting that there is a genuine physiological basis for repetition and “perfect practice” leading to success in any endeavor.
When the famous American football coach Vince Lombardi took over the Green Bay Packers, the first thing he did was to insist that from that moment on, the only highlight films the team were allowed to watch were of their own most successful games, and within those games, only the most successful, effectively run plays.
His philosophy was simple—what you practice, you become. The Green Bay Packers went on to win the first two Super Bowls and become one of the greatest teams in American football history.
Let’s do a powerful visualization exercise that will increase your confidence right now:
SUCCESS HIGHLIGHT FILMS
Read through the exercise before you do it for the first time …
1. I’d like you to imagine right now that you are watching a movie about a future, more successful you. Notice every detail of how that future you looks—the expression on your face, the way you are holding your body, and the light in your eyes.
2. As the movie plays out on the screen in front of you, you will see many moments of success from your past and others which have not yet happened. Sit back and enjoy the show!
3. When you’re ready, I’d like you to float out of your seat and into that successful you up on the screen. See through their eyes, hear through their ears, and feel the feelings of your successful self. Make the colors brighter, the sounds louder, and the feelings stronger.
4. Notice where that feeling of success is strongest in your body and give it a color. Now move that color up to the top of your head and down to the tip of your toes, doubling the brightness and doubling it again.
5. Float back into your present moment self, being sure to keep as much of the feeling of natural confidence and success as feels truly wonderful.
For more practice, play the Your Success Highlights video.
You can watch your success highlight films as often as you like, but especially as part of the 5-Minute Daily Confidence Workout you will be learning in Chapter 10. Each time you run it, you can make any changes that occur to you to “increase the juice” of good feelings it gives you.
If it helps, you can imagine putting in and taking out an appropriately labelled DVD before and after each showing. No matter how well you visualize, you may find it easier if you write your “film” out as a story and read it out loud before closing your eyes and imagining it fully.
Here are a couple more tricks real moviemakers use to add “oomph” to their movies:
1. Add a good soundtrack. Many athletes get themselves into an optimal performance state by listening to an uplifting, energizing piece of music before a competition. The actor Johnny Depp actually listens to music while filming a scene to get himself “in the mood.”
2. Use bright colors and big, bold, moving images—there’s a reason it’s more fun to see an action movie on a huge screen than on a small black-and-white TV.
As you become more practiced at visualizing yourself succeeding rather than failing, your feelings of confidence and motivation will increase. As a result, your behavior will begin to change. Soon, you will have reprogrammed yourself to go for what you want with ease and comfort—a natural sense of confidence.