Tag Archives: Visualize

Visualize Yourself To Victory

How To Change The Playing Field In Your Favor

I remember once, a long time ago, way back when I was in Junior High school, I was playing golf with a couple of friends after school. There was one hole that I always had trouble with. The first 80 yards or so, you had to hit your ball over part of a lake. The part of the lake that you had to hit over ended on the left edge of where the fairway would be, and to the right it only got bigger. Being a habitual slicer, I usually sliced off to the right, and into the water.

In order to get over the water hazard, I only had to hit a normal shot. My normal shot didn’t start to fade until about fifty to a hundred yards or so, which gave me enough distance to get over the water if I could ever hit a normal shot. My problem was that on that particular hole, I never hit a normal shot. My drive was rarely more then ten yards or so off the ground and sliced a lot earlier and more pronounced than normal, sending my ball straight into the large area of the lake.

From a pure physics standpoint this is easy to understand. If you flinch even slightly in the direction of lifting your head to see where the ball went, you’ll hit the ball just a little bit higher than normal, giving you less height, and in my case, more slice, as I twisted the club head just a little bit more than I normally would have.

The funny thing is that I lifted my head because I was unconsciously worried about slicing into the lake. And because I lifted my head, I sliced into the lake. My unconscious actions, (e.g. lifting my head up and turning the club head more than normal,) which were based on my fears, actually caused my fears to come true, rather than preventing them.

From a structural standpoint, it went like this: I had this fear about an outcome based on a planned action. My anxiety going into the action changed the action slightly, and became the direct cause of my fears coming true.

In this particular case, it was one off shot, so to speak. I hit it in the water; walked about halfway up the fairway, about even where my ball went into the lake (next to all my other balls) dropped a ball, took a penalty and went on my way. This was a one-time event, which in the end only increased my score by two. The rest of the course was wide and open, so I could slice all over the place and be OK.

Naturally, every time I teed up on that particular hole, I remembered all the other slices into he water, which of course increased my anxiety, and made it much more likely to repeat the error. But only being a golf game, and only being in Junior high school, I figured that was normal. Until my friend shared with me a powerful secret that I still use today, and you can to, to break out whatever rut you happened to be in.

This problem, often called a self fulfilling prophecy, can present itself in many ways, and the feedback loop can be much more debilitating that a couple of strokes on an afternoon golf game.

Suppose you are a single guy, and you see a girl you like. You walk up to her, introduce yourself, and she blows you off. Happens all the time right? Only next time you walk up to a girl, you remember the last one that blew you off, and it makes our approach less effective. You are nervous, can’t hold eye contact, and basically come across as kind of creepy. This makes you get rejected even more harshly, which in turns makes approaching another girl too scary to even contemplate. You have effectively locked yourself into a vicious circle of defeat, by using your worst possible past in order to hallucinate a likely outcome. The likely outcome terrifies you so much; it cripples your behavior, and virtually guarantees itself.

Another example. You go ask your boss for a raise. He turns you down. You become depressed, and your motivation to work hard decreases slightly, which in turn decreases your productivity a little bit. Next time you ask for a raise, your boss is even less likely to give you one, based on your productivity. If you get locked into this horrible tailspin, you may very well find yourself on the list of people who are expendable when budget cuts are mentioned.

One of the insidious things about these self-defeating cycles is that it is incredibly easy to blame others for your predicament. The guy who is approaching girls can blame women for being stuck up and not having the ability to see his true worth. Maybe they think he’s too short, or doesn’t make enough money. This can lead to a belief that all women are shallow and materialistic

The guy who never gets a raise can blame his boss, the economy, his coworkers for talking about him when he’s not around, and so on.

As difficult as it sounds, only when you take responsibility for your lot in life do you have a shot at bootstrapping yourself up and out of any vicious cycle of defeat you may find yourself in. Even though that often times others are culpable, some bosses do play favorites, and many people, both men and women, are shallow and materialistic, that doesn’t help you a bit. You can’t change the world, but you can change how you interpret it and react to it. That is completely in your control.

So one day, just as I was teeing up, my friend, says “Hey wait, before you hit, just close your eyes and pretend there is nothing but a huge patch of green grass in front of you.” I tried it, and it worked. I don’t think I ever hit another ball in the water after that.

The funny thing is that he didn’t tell me to visualize my ball bouncing on the other side of the lake, like most sports psychologists would have you do, or visualize how I’d feel when I hit it over the water. The advice my friend told me was to imagine the playing field, the course, was physically different than it really was. By imagining a different playing field, my actions changed automatically.

It’s so easy to argue until we’re blue in the face that “the playing field isn’t equal” and that others have advantages and opportunities that we don’t have. But what if you could simply hallucinate a more helpful playing field, and allow your actions to naturally respond to your hallucination?

What if before approaching some cute girl in a bookstore, instead of going through the difficult procedure of imagining a positive outcome, and planning his various openers, he simply imagined that all girls were irresistibly attracted to his type? There’s no rule that says your imaginations have to be true or accurate, only that they lead to behaviors that get you what you want.

And what if the guy in the office imagined he was the boss’s nephew, or that he’d pulled him out of a burning care a week earlier, or something else as ludicrous? Sure, it’s completely false, but what if it works?

Something to think about next time you’re gearing up to imagine yourself into a positive outcome.


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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Stay Focused On Your Target

I had a friend of mine that worked for a trading company. It was a medium sized trading company, and their mission statement was to be the biggest trading company in the world. They had set that goal several years ago, and had been steadily growing to that end. However, with the recent economic troubles, their market share had been slipping, and they were in danger of not achieving their target. My friend that worked there worked in the new accounts department. His job was to find foreign markets for the products that they were importing from other countries. They had certain requirements for each distributor, and sometimes it took a while to find out the information that was required.

They had the company goal written on a large poster. They spent a lot of money on a graphic artist to come up with a symbol of their future goal. It was a combination of a graphical representation of the market share they were after, combined with the symbol for the company as chosen by their founder a over a hundred years ago. It was a very impressive emblem that everyone was required to have in their office. My friend had his hanging over his desk, so that he would see it when he first came in every morning.

He also kept a large white board in front of his desk, as sometimes they would have meetings. When they would have issues that came up during the meeting he would leave them on the white board, so he could look at them while he worked, sitting behind his desk.

I remember once when was a kid. I went away to summer camp while I was in boy scouts. The way it was set up was that you chose about five or six merit badges that you wanted to get, and then you spent the time working on them while you were at camp. It was important to choose what you wanted before camp, because they learned from experience that if you didn’t choose beforehand, you would just kind of mess around and not really achieve anything. They said that even choosing one thing with confidence was better than choosing a bunch of merit badges that you think you might enjoy getting, only to realize you didn’t really want to get them enough to go through the actions required to actually get them.

One of the ones I chose was archery. It was pretty cool. We had to learn all about the names of all the equipment, all the safety requirements, and you had to score a certain number of points on a regulation archery course. Before doing this we were required to practice a lot of mental visualization. The most important one was to focus on the target above all else. The instructor told us that in order to hit our target, we had to imagine the arrow going straight into the bull’s eye. You had to take several deep breaths before shooting, and then see the arrow hitting the target in your minds eye. Then you had to exhale slowly, pull back the bowstring, and slowly release.

One thing I never thought about was how to adjust for you misses. In order to get enough points to get the merit badge, you didn’t have to hit a bulls eye every time. You could even miss the target completely. So long as you were able to watch where the arrow went, and then adjust your aim accordingly. The instructor told us that it was important to accept every result that we got, and get upset if we missed our target. To simply watch where the arrow went, and adjust our aim accordingly. He said that if we did this, then getting a merit badge in a couple of days would be automatic.

One day my friend had an idea. He switched the placement of the white board, and of the emblem that his company had designed for the goal. He placed the emblem in front of his desk, where he was always looking at it. And after the meetings, he would leave the main issues on the whiteboard as before, but he would roll the white board so it sat behind his desk, where he could turn around and look at it when he needed to remember what problems to move away from. He found that by keeping his problems behind him, and keeping his target in front of him, he found it much easier and much quicker to achieve the company goals.

Does Snake Oil Really Work or The Power of Visualization

There used to be this guy. He was a normal guy, with a normal job. He had some normal friends, some he liked more than others. He would meet his friends from time to time, and do some various activities with them. Some of these, of course, he liked more than others. Sometimes, after a long workweek, he didn’t have the energy to go out on the weekend, so he would stay home and watch TV, or read the latest novel, or play video games on his computer. Once in a while he would go see a movie, but he always felt a bit strange going to the movies by himself.

He figured he had a pretty good life. But sometimes, when he wasn’t occupying his thoughts with the latest craze, or some time filling activity with his friends, he wondered what he was doing with his life. Once he went to a coffee shop to hang out and read the latest thriller novel, but he forgot to bring it, and so he just sat and thought about things for a while. The cute girl he was hoping to flirt at the coffee shop wasn’t working, so he just kind of stared out the window and let his mind wander wherever minds like to go in those situations.

He started to trace back through his personal history, to determine when he’d made the choices that led him to where he was. Not right there in the coffee shop, but in his life, his job, his friends, his apartment, the area of town he lived in. He wasn’t too surprised that his life was a string of events that were more or less accepted by him, rather than chosen by him. The last time he made a really strong choice was when he decided on which university to go to. Even then his choices were influenced by many other factors. His friends, his parents, what his guidance counselor had told him in high school. He chose his major based on his interests, but again, it was based largely on what kind of job he would be able to get with the major that he chose.

When he accepted the job offer, it wasn’t like there were fifty companies competing for his skills. He had applied to several, got interviews at a few, and took the first decent offer that he received. It was a good company, but he didn’t’ really have as much choice in the matter as he’d let himself believe.

He finished his coffee, and started wandering around the mall he found himself in. It was a Saturday afternoon, and he didn’t have any plans, so he kind of wandered aimlessly, like he’d been doing pretty much his whole life. He wandered into a bookshop. Not a big bookshop like a major chain, but a small, niche market bookshop. He browsed around and picked up a book on manifesting. He had always thought that this subject was a bunch of nonsense, that was nothing more than modern day snake oil. What he found inside this book was fascinating, to say the least.

The book described how mankind was a complex biological social organism that had developed over the course of millions of years. And that human social behavior was goal driven, but for many, those goals are determined by those outside of the individual. People have the ability to choose their own goals, or let others choose their goals for them. Of course, it is much easier, and less risky to allow others to choose the goals for them, so nature has this goal setting mechanism built into the human mind by default. But it can be overcome. The book went on to explain that by creating a very compelling idea of what you want to create, and focusing on that idea again and again, your actions will start to naturally and unconsciously pull you towards those pictures that you want to create.

This guy decided to buy the book and try this out. He spent several weeks coming up with one or two things that he would like to have. His own home, a relationship with a sweet, kind and beautiful woman, a salary double what he was making now. He created several pictures in his mind of each of this, and focused on them whenever he had a chance. Pretty soon, he found himself doing things that he didn’t do before, but seemed to be drawing towards the future that he was imagining, rather than the future that he had allowed others to imagine for him by default.

He started doing things a little bit differently at work, which got him noticed by upper management. Soon he was promoted, and making more money. He started going out by himself, instead of hanging out with his friends. And when he went places, he went to museums, charity events, and other social gatherings rather than the same bars he had been going do. Pretty soon he was dating a few candidates for a serious long-term relationship. And with his increased salary, he was saving enough to put down on a nice house in a neighborhood. Pretty soon his life was completely changed, for the better, and almost as if by magic. The perplexing thing, to him at least, was that he didn’t remember deciding to actually do anything different. All he remembered was making up those pictures of the things he wanted, and focusing on them several times a day. Everything else was pretty automatic. Another thing that came to his attention was how incredibly happy and motivating his life had become. Amazing how these things work.