It is probably safe to say that most of us have some kind of goal, some special experience we want to have or a problem we need to solve. If you think you aren’t ambitious enough and don’t have goals, think again. You almost certainly have dreams, and dreams are nothing more than goals before planning. Whether or not you actually take time to define a clear plan for achieving your dream depends on how much you believe in yourself, but if you have proper tools for goal achieving there is no reason why you shouldn’t give yourself a chance.
Mental imagery is one of the most powerful tools you could possibly use to make your dreams come true. While this isn’t entirely passive experience and simply visualizing will not materialize your mental images, it is a powerful tool to motivate yourself to take action and stay positive all the way through.
There have been hundreds of studies on mental imagery and athlete’s performance and, while there is some contradicting information out there, generally it is accepted that visualization helps athletes to perform better. According to this research, the higher the competitive level, the more often athletes used imagery in practice.
If it works for ambitious goals set by world class athletes, it could as well work for your objectives, both big or small, like losing weight, running marathon, or building a successful business. Now let’s look a little closer into types of imagery and examine how you could actually use them to make your life better.
Types of Imagery
Imagery is a form of stimulation and can be also considered a form of self-hypnosis. When you vividly imagine yourself practicing for an event or performing during the event, you are creating muscle memory within nervous and muscular systems which will help you to actually do this skill in real life. Depending on personal preferences, different people employ different kinds of mental images, and you too should experiment to find out what works best for you. Imagery can be classified by several criteria:
Do you prefer to see the image behind your own eyes as if you are actually practicing or performing, or you tend to do better with external perspective, as if watching your own video or watching yourself behind others’ eyes?
What type of mental images work best for you: those of you practicing the skill or the moment of victory? Or perhaps you find that you need to play both types of images in your mind in order to be successful?
- Key areas.
Psychologists recommend to master five kinds of imagery that involve (Gregg & Hall study):
- reviewing possible plans and strategies,
- practicing specific skill,
- dealing with anxiety and self-doubt,
- focusing on being confident and in control,
- imagining the moment of victory or achieving desired outcome.
How to Visualize Vividly
For your visualization to work, you should see your mental images as vividly as possible as if you are actually living it. Don’t skim over details and make sure that you involve all kinds of senses to make it realistic. In this sense, there are seven types of imagery and you should involve most or all of them for maximum effect:
- Visual imagery – all about eyes and what you see.
- Auditory imagery – all about sound and what you hear.
- Olfactory imagery – all about smell.
- Gustatory imagery – all about taste.
- Tactile imagery pertains – all about sense of touch.
- Kinesthetic imagery – all about movement and action.
- Organic imagery – all about feelings.