Change Your Perspective for Optimal Performance

I bought a wetsuit this year.  I backed this with the mental justification that, instead of buying a membership to a pool where I’d still have to wear a mask in the building, and make swimming lane ‘reservations’ as if I was going to a top notch restaurant, a wet-suit would enable me to do open-water swimming.  This was a no-brainer for me because I absolutely LOVE open water swimming.  But, living here in Vermont, I realize that, unless you’re a polar bear, a wetsuit will be necessary if you want to get more than a few months of swimming outdoors.  

Then came the promise I made to myself: you’ll start your swimming at the beginning of May. You’ll make it to October.  Then that expensive rubber suit will be well worth the cash you’re fronting because you’re going to get at LEAST two extra months of swimming in. Awesome, I’m committed. Until May 1st came … and it was still snowing. 

My body temp runs a bit warm, but not warm enough to ‘willingly’ get into an ice cold body of water while snowflakes were still coming out of the sky.  But I was determined to get in that water.  I made a promise to myself and I was going to keep it.  It didn’t matter how long I was going to stay in that water, but I was getting in.  I was angry.  “Why the hell is it this cold in May!” The sun wasn’t out, but it wasn’t snowing and I knew that water was going to be cold.  

It didn’t disappoint.  

The wetsuit held up alright, but my hands and feet were numb and my face was freezing.  “This was a stupid idea! You’ll never get these cold water swims in.  Buying this suit was a waste!”  I barely made it 30 minutes before I left, disgruntled, disillusioned, and still kicking myself for buying the wetsuit.

May 7th.  The sun was out and the day was about 10 degrees warmer, but definitely not warm enough for beach balls and water skiing. I was swimming in a bigger body of water this time.  After what happened last week, I was having real reservations about even getting into my wetsuit let alone the water.  That inner critic was filling my head with the feelings of my numb hands and feet, and the pain I felt in my face from the cold water.   I marched down to the water as if I was going to prison.  The last thing I wanted to do was have an experience like I did last week, and here I was reliving it without even getting a toe in the water.  

I put my foot in.  It was REALLY cold. 

I was elated! 

Don’t get me wrong, the water was still freezing.  But it wasn’t what it was last week!   I could feel that inner critic subside as I started to actually believe that I was going to get a good swim in!  Was it possible that I could actually go past 30 minutes today?  The sun was out after all, and it had been a week.  As my perspective changed so did my energy.   I wouldn’t say I dove into the water carefree and brimming with joy over the temps, but I definitely felt a new surge of confidence . There was a smile on my face.  I had gotten the green light mentally … from myself.

In any situation that we find ourselves in our perspective is always just that: ours.  How we think about a situation determines how we feel about a situation.  How we feel about a situation can change our emotional state.  And our emotional state can provide a powerful catalyst to propel us forward or stop us in our tracks!

Here are a couple of suggestions to help you change your perspective, so you can change your performance!

  1. Stop thinking about what ‘should’ be – The number one killer of anyone’s performance is dismissing what is in front of you for what you think should be.  That water was freezing the first time in, and it didn’t get any warmer by feeding myself negative thoughts reinforcing what I wished the situation to be.  What it did do was create more aversion and a mental attitude that was self-defeating rather than performance-supporting.
  1. Bring in the gratitude – Showing real appreciation, even when you’re facing difficulties, can make a huge difference in whether or not you continue to make efforts towards your goals or leave them by the wayside.  Focus down in your mind and celebrate whatever you can find to be grateful for in the attempt you’re making at your goals. If you struggle to find something, practice being grateful for the lessons you learned from your previous attempt.
  1. Remember the ‘bigger picture’ –  Perfection is a fabrication, and nobody goes undefeated in their going after their goals … except those who never try at all.  Whether celebrating your ‘wins’ or dealing with ‘setbacks’, remember these experiences are part of your journey towards achieving your goal.  If you just started your efforts, think about the fact that you got the courage to start going after what you want.  Hold the long-term goal in mind and acknowledge that every step you take, regardless of how each step goes, it is bringing you closer to that goal.

Whatever endeavor you are going after, your perspective can hinder or enhance your performance.  Remember: how we think about a situation determines how we feel about a situation.  How we feel about a situation can change our emotional state.  And our emotional state can provide a powerful catalyst to propel us forward or stop us in our tracks!  Try these tips the next time you take action on your goal.  Share in the comments, below, how it goes; I’d love to hear!

If you would like help lessening your fear and anxiety, reaching your goals, breaking habits, or creating new ones, I’d love to work with you.  Just click the button or the link below for a free consultation and let’s talk. 

Part 5: Visualization – Putting it all Together

By far the most important sense is our vision. We perceive up to 80% of all impressions by means of our sight. Basically this means we believe what we see.  The biggest mistake many of us make is believing that our sight comes from our eyes. The truth is our brains are what is actually formulating the images and making sense of those images. Our eyes take in the crude matter from the outside world, but our brains decide what it means. 

You want proof? Stare at any object in your room for five seconds, then close your eyes. Now allow yourself to bring that picture back into focus in your mind. How is that even possible? Your eyes are closed, but you see the image. That’s because, no matter how long ago you saw that image, it is now a memory housed away in your mind, to do with what you wish. In fact, that memory holds all of the senses from that moment in which it was created, giving the memory of what you saw as much depth, meaning, and purpose as you choose to give it.  

If you focus on that image in your mind long enough, you can generate emotions from it.

Over the last four blogs, we’ve gone over the power visualization has to help you create joy, confidence, connection, basically any emotion that you want. We discussed how you can use your imagination to amplify your memories, making those emotions like confidence, joy, and connection more potent and longer lasting.  How putting aside logic, reason, and most of all judgement, allows your imagination free reign to create an emotional state for yourself from scratch, no memory even needed!  And, finally, we learned if we do use a memory as a source to tap into for our emotions, how finding the ‘bullseye’ of that memory not only allows for quicker access to it, but also allows for us to navigate our entire memory enabling emotions become stronger, and last longer. 

But knowing this and doing it are two different things.  To quote one of my favorite movies (I’m actually seeing Gladiator in my mind now :),

The time for half-measures and talk is over...”   

Let’s ‘roll mental film’.  Let’s go through a memory that you have in your mind, and practice creating the emotion for yourself. If you have been following the vlogs or blogs, you should be pretty well practiced. If not, consider going back and checking out the last four, so you can get the most out of this!

 Aright, let’s roll ‘mental film’…

1. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a few minutes – Find a quiet spot for yourself, a place where you can pretty much guarantee you won’t be disturbed for 5 minutes or so. Just focus down on your breathing. Notice where you feel it in your chest, what it feels like.  You can even count as you breathe if that’s easier for you.

2. Now bring that memory into your mind – Once you’ve centered yourself by counting your breaths, find the bullseye of the memory you chose that gives you the feelings that you want.  Notice, when you recall the memory, the first thing that comes into your mind.  Remember, your ‘entry point’ to this memory, the image you see, is the same every time you think of this memory.  That is your bullseye!  

3. Do a 360 around your memory – From that bullseye, roll mental film forward and take a look at what happened after that bullseye moment in your memory.  Sit with that, taking it all in from your five senses, really reliving it fully in your mind. When you’re ready, circle back and roll mental film backward, traveling into the past before you reached that bullseye moment.  Focus down on all the details you can using your five senses!  This creates a richer texture, ensuring the emotions you want gain substance and last longer.

Now that you have your memory in full focus…

4. Now amplify that memory with your imagination – No judgement zone.  No need for reason or logic either. While you are rolling film on that memory, let your imagination rip. If you are recalling a winning goal in your club soccer game, and your imagination creates a stadium around you filled with 50,000 people shouting your name, puts you in full gladiator armor, on your teammate’s shoulders as they cheer, ‘Spaniard!’, the ONLY thing you are interested in is if it amplifies the emotion you are looking for inside your body. If that is going on…then off to the coliseum for you!!! If not, layer on different imagery for yourself until you get that emotion you are looking for flowing fully through your mind and body.

Open your eyes and check in with yourself. Do you still feel this emotion inside you? Most likely some of it is still there. Our minds don’t differentiate between what has actually happened in our external environment, from what has happened inside of us. That’s why the emotions around our dreams feel so big and real long after we’ve opened our eyes! The deeper you focus down on your visualization, and the longer you practice this technique, the more consistently you’ll be able to generate the emotional state that you want for yourself.  

Try practicing this just for 5 minutes a day before going out for your run, making that call you’d rather not make, or even before heading into a job interview to settle your nerves, and to create those emotions you want beforehand. The more experience you give yourself through practice, the less energy this process will take, and the greater confidence you’ll have that you can create joy, confidence, connection, or any emotion you want as you go after any challenge you decide to take on for yourself, or is brought to your front door!

Part 4: Find The Bullseye in Your Memory!

We’re not talking about darts or “X” marks the spot (no pirate’s treasure chest). The thing is, emotions are not just something to tray and govern when they come around by the off chance, they are something to cultivate! Positive emotions like confidence, joy, connection, or hope can fuel your efforts and strengthen your resolve when you decide to go after anything in your life. Visualization is a powerful method for cultivating the emotions you want in order to center yourself to succeed.

Just to give a quick review, over the past three blogs we’ve talked about the power of visualization to cultivate emotion for yourself, how to visualize our memories to get the emotions that we want, and how to use our imagination to enhance those memories, ‘boosting’ their potency to generate more of the emotions that we want. Finally, we left logic and reason behind, and decided to create emotions solely from our imagination! We learned to go after the feelings that we want, not judge ourselves for whatever imagery or whatever came up for us as long as it gave us the emotions we wanted. 

Over the years, the number one question I’ve gotten from people I’ve coached in doing any kind of emotional visualization exercise is always, “Where do I start?” You think there would be a simple answer, right? Some people start at the beginning of a memory, while others leave memory altogether and focus solely on visualization from their imagination. The thing is…

There’s no one right starting point when we are using visualization to create emotions within ourselves.  But, if you are choosing to visualize using a memory, the best place that I know to start is always the bullseye.

When we recall an event, the bullseye is the first thing that springs to mind for us from that memory. We remember it easily. It’s rich in detail, filled with vivid color, with sounds, and images that are strong and easily accessible. 

I have a fantastic memory of getting the game ball when I played highschool football, complete with my entire team standing up and cheering for me in the locker room, and my coach saying amazing things about me. Do you know where that memory’s bullseye is? It is when my hand grabbed the door of the locker room right before I entered the scene of the memory. That’s right. no cheers. No game ball. In fact, I wasn’t feeling particularly good about myself at that moment because I thought I was just returning my pads and a helmet after having a season-ending injury during a football game. 

But, there was incredible emotional energy within me as I stood at that door. Every single time I think about this memory I always think about my hand grabbing that door handle. Then a flood of all the imagery, sounds, sights: friends shaking my hands, pats on the back, coach’s voice, the game ball in my hand…all of it comes. But it all starts with me remembering my hand on that door. 

Have you ever had someone tell you about a wonderful memory that they had where they met their spouse or their sweetheart, the incredible time that they had, and how it was one of the most important memories in their life? If you asked them what their bullseye was, what do you remember most, they would most likely say something like: it was waiting in the line at the airport to get their bags checked. 

A bullseye can come before, in the middle, or even at the end of your memory. You know it is the bullseye because it opens the flood of emotions that you’re seeking. A bull’s-eye is like a powder keg ready to explode and you, as the author of your memory, are brought right back to that very special moment and everything that happened every time. Let’s talk about how you find the bullseye for yourself in a memory that holds the emotions you are looking for. When you identify the bullseye, then you will have an easier time calling that memory to mind for yourself any time you want to tap the emotions it creates within you. 

Let’s Practice  

Find the bullseye in any memory to squeeze the most joy, connectedness, love,confidence, or any other awesome emotion for yourself as efficiently as you can!

Decide on the memory – When deciding on the memory, make sure that it’s going to give you the emotions you’re looking for. When you bring it up in your mind, the emotion(s) you want should be right there with it! You may have to try several memories out, and that’s normal.  Once you have the memory that’s giving you the emotion you want…

Focus on the first thing you thought of when you recalled that memory –  It may not have been an ‘all important’ part of the memory, but it’s your starting point! Don’t worry if it seems trivial, it’s just where you are going to pivot your focus from.  

Now do a 360 pivot of your memory – Two things are going to be able to allow you to get the most emotional charge from your memory. The importance you give it in your mind, and the length of time you are able to hold it! You want to be able to rewind, go forward, and basically take a 360 view of everything that has happened. The richer the detail the better! Dive deep into your five senses recalling sights, sounds, tastes, textures, smells, everything that surrounded you and was part of that memory. By doing this, you are filled with the emotions just as if what you were recalling was actually happening in the moment. This exercise enables you to step forward into whatever challenge you are facing with the emotional center that will help you succeed.

If you do any kind of meditation practice, it may be good to consider giving over five minutes of that practice to finding your bullseye and pivoting around it. If meditation isn’t your thing, no problem! Consider when you walk, exercise, take a shower, any time you have where you are alone and can focus down to bring up that memory’s bullseye, and develop its ability to give the emotions that will help you accomplish whatever is most important to you! 

If you would like help lessening your fear and anxiety, reaching your goals, breaking habits, or creating new ones, I’d love to work with you.  Just click the button or the link below for a free consultation and let’s talk.