Visualisations and meditations
There’s a lot of evidence that our brains aren’t particularly good at differentiating between what’s real and what’s imaginary – in terms of our emotional response. It might explain why we get scared during horror films, for example. Part of our brain knows that the zombies aren’t real – just actors and CGI – but another part of us thinks they’re actually trying to eat those brains!
We can use this to help control nerves in a few ways…
The first way is simple – just recognise that what you’re experiencing as ‘fear’ isn’t necessarily real. Take a moment to think objectively about what is going on. Give yourself some specific questions to think about, such as:
- what exactly are you intending to achieve?
- how will you know when you’re successful – what will be different?
- what are your backup plans?
Don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity of this sort of technique. The aim is to do more or less anything to move from an emotional state to a logical one…
… and if you do it right, it can’t not work.
You might also want to refer back to the Ties and Flies checklist, too…
A side note about that first point above. Many people find that knowing exactly what they’re trying to achieve helps a very great deal with nerves. This is because if you don’t know what you’re trying to do, part of your brain is always worried that you’ve not done it. You’ll always be subconsciously partially failing.
A more advanced tool
The simple ‘objectivity’ questions above are surprisingly effective – but if you want a more developed tool to add to your arsenal, here it is. The more you practice it, the more quickly you can use it.
The audio narration below is nearly 10 minutes long, so don’t start it unless you’re in the right place, with enough time.
It’s mentioned in the audio, but it’s worth repeating – the more you practice, the quicker and more effective this gets.
You can create your own visualisations, too, of course. (A quick online search will also find you plenty of others.) The important thing is to link
- something which calms you down (in this case, a memory)
- something you visualise to recapture and relive that memory (in this case the box)
and you’re away! My experience is that a visualisation you’ve created yourself has benefits and problems..
| Something you’ve created yourself is more personalised and can therefore have a more powerful effect, more quickly – the structure taps more directly into the way you think, as an individual, more or less by definition.|
What’s more my experience is that home made visualisations often take less practice, perhaps because of this personalisation but also perhaps because the simple process of creating the visualisation does much of the same work as extended rehearsal would do.
|The downsides are the obvious ones that you’re not an expert and you might pick things which don’t work as well as they appear to do in the first instance. You’ll notice that the visualisation in the recording above, for example, is structured in a careful way – introducing senses in a particular way and in a particular order. |
With ‘home made’ visualisations it’s easy to get these wrong and (perhaps worse) be tempted to skip the details altogether.
It seems obvious therefore, that the best approach in the long term is to start with guided visualisation such as the one above, and then customised it and personalise it as you get more comfortable with it.
The next module takes this process one step further, in a very specific way (called Anchoring) to create arguably the most powerful tool for controlling nerves that I know.
However, it’s such a big and powerful tool that I’ve taken three steps to explain it!