Be Stronger Through Mental Imagery

Feb 26, 2014 -

Find Strength Through Mental Imagery

I've always wondered how some people are able to remain so poised and composed under pressure, while others frazzled and seem to lose control of themselves. Phil Jackson the former coach of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant has been dubbed as the "Zen Master". He had a winning record every year as a head coach and has the highest winning percentage of any Hall of Fame coach. But, that isn't what impresses me the most. It is how he did it and more specifically his overall demeanor. During high pressured games he remained cool, clam, and collected. This doesn't mean he didn't show emotion. He just gave off the impression of a "we got this" mentality that ultimately feeds down to his players. On the flip side, if you look at Mike D'Antoni, he is like a rolling fireball. He more often than not appears agitated and loses control of his temper. A quick comparison of their coaching records shows which coaching style is more effective.

How do we develop this calm and poised demeanor? One way is to go through difficult experiences and grow acclimated to tough challenges. If as a young adult you grew up without both your parents and had to constantly jump from minimum wage job to job to support both your brother and yourself, you are going to have a tougher shell than someone who didn't go through that. You are less likely to sweat losing a job than someone who has had the same white-collar desk job for 30 years and suddenly the rug was pulled right underneath them.

Learning through experiences take time. We would rather learn the up front lesson than have to go through five years to get the same lesson. We use theories to accelerate our learning curve; lessons that others have learned through their experiences. Still, no matter how much you read about a situation or try to learn from others, there is nothing like going through the experience yourself.

You can watch a bunch of golf videos on how to swing a club and understand the mechanics behind a solid swing. However, this doesn't mean you will be a successful golfer. You still have to go and experience it.

The next best thing to actually going through experiences themselves is to use mental imagery to transport yourself into situations. This is not a new concept and frankly you are already be doing this. When you dream you are in a rehearsal for new challenges. When you dream your mind processes emotional material to help you mentally prepare for the situation when you are awake. But, you don't need to wait till you go to sleep to use mental imagery.

Whenever you have thoughts of stress, agitation, desire, pride, and greed cloud your mind imagine peaceful situations. Drop yourself mentally in a relaxing beach, placid lake, or imagine yourself on a high mountaintop overlooking the vast panoramic view. Next imagine yourself sitting quietly, your mind open and clear, as calm as windless prairie. Take notice of your inner storms dissipating and your strength from within growing. Your wounds may be deep, but they are not as strong as your mind over the matter itself.  

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