Imagining perfect performance and using NLP techniques are effective ways of enhancing your preparation for a competition, sporting event or other big challenge which faces you in the foreseeable future.
A coach once told me there are
four factors that
determine a player’s performance: his tactical awareness,
his physical condition, his technical ability and his mental strength
Whether you are an actor, a footballer, a tennis player, a cricketer, a swimmer, a golfer, an athlete of any description, a musician or anyone else who is going to perform at a big event, these techniques are equally applicable.
Neither does it matter if you are about to perform on your school playing field or in your national opera house.
It goes without saying, of course, that you are prepared for the event in every other way: you have practised and practised until what you have to do is part of you, and you are physically as fit as you can expect to be.
The day is now approaching and you are either a little anxious or very nervous.
Of course, you need a little adrenaline in order to achieve your perfect performance, but you still need to feel in control and be able to perform.
This article is addressed to all both amateur and professional performers.
If you are a professional performer and you have recordings of past performances, pull out the very best ones and watch how you performed on those occasions. Then continue to replay it in your mind.
If you are an amateur, the chances of you having recordings is not so great, but someone may have filmed you. If they did, and you excelled, watch them and observe precisely what you did.
If you haven’t got access to recordings of your best performances, you still have very accurate memories of them embedded in your mind. So take yourself to a quiet place and run over them in your mind again and again.
If you remain anxious, think about the big day that is coming up and assess yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the weakest state of anxiety and 10 the strongest.
For the purposes of this exercise I want you to imagine that your timeline is laid out on the ground. We need not concern ourselves with the past because we are considering only a future event.
If you view your timeline with the past behind you and the future in front of you, where you are standing now will be the present and the future will extend out in front of you.
If you view it in some other way, the present will still be where you are standing now, but the future is likely to be one side of you or going off at some sort of angle. It doesn’t matter where it is.
There is no right or wrong way of doing this. All that is important is that you know where the present and future are while you are standing on the floor.
Now, imagine looking along your future timeline to the spot where the event will take place and imagine the occasion itself. Concentrate on your self-talk. What are you saying in your mind?
Consider the feelings in your body. Where are they? In which direction are they spinning?
Now walk off your timeline to one side and towards the future event and, as you reach it, walk right round it and back on to your timeline so that it is now behind you and in the past.
Stop and look back at it. It is now something you have already achieved. What is your self-talk like now? What are the feelings like in your body? Now that it is behind you, how do you feel about it?
When you have considered it for a few moments, walk back along your timeline to the present and view the event again. How much has your anxiety decreased? Are those feelings spinning in the same direction or at the same speed?
Think about it carefully for a few moments and score your anxiety again on a scale of 1 to 10 exactly as you did before and note by how many points it has reduced.
You will probably be viewing the event much more positively by this time, but if you are still not satisfied with your level of anxiety, repeat the exercise until it has diminished to a manageable level.
A second timeline exercise to boost your performance may be carried out in this way. Imagine your perfect performance in vivid detail. See what you would expect to see. Hear what you would expect to hear. Feel what you would expect to feel. If you can use your senses of taste and smell, so much the better.
Make the colours bright and bold. Feel really good about your performance. Allow that feeling to surge up inside you and double them.
Walk along your timeline (physically or mentally) until you have passed the event for which you are preparing, look back and feel what you will feel when you have achieved your ambition.
Now walk back to the present and start walking forward again slowly. This time imagine everything you will have to do and every obstacle you will need to overcome.
If you experience a mental barrier or challenge, step off your timeline and watch yourself as if you were a spectator at the event. Think what you will need to overcome the obstacle or challenge.
When you have worked that out, step back on to the timeline and take what you need with you to achieve your objective. Now carry on towards the event and, if any other obstacles or challenges arise, deal with them in exactly the same way.
Once you have reached the event, bathe yourself in its beauty. Envisage it as an enormous, beautiful scene and step into it. Again, see what you see, hear what you hear and feel what you feel.
Pull a golden thread from the scene and fasten it to your body. Take several deep breaths and breath life into your performance.
Now that you have that picture firmly in your mind, put it on the ground and walk backwards to the present.
But walk backwards only at a rate and speed which is sufficient to enable you to build all your internal resources to the point you need for maximum motivation, inspiration and peak performance.
This is an exercise that you can repeat time and again as the event approaches. The more you envisage your success and gather the mental resources you need, the less will be your anxiety and the more perfect your performance.
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