It is time we made this a routine skill.
Visualization is the creation or re-creation of an external experience in your mind. Mental projection is visualizing a personal future state or victory. Visualized images create energy around a desired future experience before you experience it “for real.” I call this type of visualization a Future Me visualization because you are envisioning a future “ideal” version of yourself.
You create the event in your mind well before it happens. The visualized event is then charged with emotions and vivid colors, sounds, smell, and tastes. You will reinforce those visual images through repeated practice sessions. This process plants a powerful seed in your subconscious mind of the potential energy for the event. Then as you work on the goal, your subconscious mind goes about supporting you with the resources necessary to nurture the event to its fruition. In a sense you could say that visualization rewires the System 1 brain to align with your goals.
The second form of visualization is a Mental Rehearsal, whereby you practice a skill or prepare for an event in your mind.
A SEAL platoon will “dirt dive” a mission to set the patterns for winning in the mind prior to executing it for real. The SEAL operator will walk through a dive profile on dry land while visualizing every detail. In this manner he performs all the major elements of the dive before ever getting wet. This was an important part of my mission prep when I was at SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1. The mini-sub dives were often six to ten hours in duration replete with complicated navigation patterns. Dirt diving the missions prior to launch proved crucial during the mission when fatigue and Murphy’s Law reared their heads. The mental rehearsal implanted the route in both conscious and subconscious minds and provided a memory aid as well as subtle physiological cues. Additionally, it helped identify potential challenges before the mission hit the reality of the deep face-to-face.
Both forms of visualization can be performed from the first person or third person perspective. What I mean by this is that they can be imaged from your subjective frame as if you had a helmet camera on, or imaged from your objective frame as if watching yourself in a movie. Either method is effective; however, most people start with the objective frame and then migrate to the subjective frame as they gain experience.
Visualization leads to improved concentration in that the practice of visualization requires you to develop greater powers of concentration due to the effort required to construct and maintain the visual imagery. In the early stages, the training can be frustrating, especially if you have difficulty holding an image in your mind for long. You may be more kinesthetic or auditory in nature; thus developing the capacity to visualize will take patience.
You will experience enhanced confidence as the result of the training. When you can clearly visualize an event skill in advance, your mental practice is accepted as real by your body. Though not as visceral as the physical doing of the event, the visual practice is still felt internally and leads to more confidence every time you do it.
This translates to more confidence as actual improvements in the skill accrue. Next, closely related to confidence is the greater emotional control you will experience. If you fear performing to some degree, which we all do (especially for scary things such as public speaking), visualizing the performance repeatedly will dampen that fear response when you perform the event live. A final note on visualization: When done well, a visualized event involves the sensations of feelings, emotions, and sounds to support the imagery.
The objective is to create as realistic a mental representation as possible, as if you are really experiencing it. That is why it is really important to ensure that your image is positive, powerful, and as near to perfect as possible.
Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level