Develop your confidence (2) – Rehearsing Success

In the previous newsletter we looked at how you can boost your confidence, and hence your credibility and influencing skills, with some centering and instant relaxation exercises which let you feel (and look) at ease in any situation.

This time, let’s turn this whole question of confidence around. How is it possible that you are not confident? Yes, there may be a lot riding on your presentation, interview or meeting, but in most cases the situation won’t actually be life-threatening. So the chances are that your mind is doing something to make you nervous. Often our minds are so good at doing this that we are not consciously aware of what is happening until we start paying attention to it.

The most common way that people make themselves nervous about an upcoming event is that they play scenarios in their mind of all the different ways that things could go wrong, because they believe (consciously or unconsciously) that this will help them to be prepared if the worst happens.

This is the exact opposite of the ‘mental rehearsal for success’ that successful athletes use before a big event. These people are rehearsing failure!

If you are doing this, you can expect two unfortunate results:

  1. The more you rehearse failure, the better you will probably get at it
  2. The more of these bad scenarios you run, the more stressed you will probably feel.

The resulting anxiety will probably impact your performance, both on the day and in the preparation. When you are stressed, you can’t learn, so it won’t be as easy to memorise the main points you want to get across.

If you insist on running mental movies of things going wrong, at least use a detached viewpoint, seeing yourself coping resourcefully with whatever happens. If you were to imagine the event as if you were seeing it through your own eyes, you will be more associated into the emotions that you would feel if it were really happening – and they won’t be pleasant.

Using a ‘dissociated’ viewpoint (to use the NLP jargon), where you are looking at yourself from the outside, will distance you from the emotions in the event so you can get the information without getting sucked into the emotion. This works on bad memories too! (although you should exercise caution with memories of really traumatic experiences and not go anywhere near them without the help of a skilled NLP therapist).

Even better, though, would be to rehearse success instead of failure. Here’s how you can do it.

Rehearsing Success Exercise

  1. Run a ‘mental movie’ of yourself performing well in your presentation, interview, meeting or whatever. Look at it from the outside and modify your imagined performance until you feel good (eager, excited, inspired).
  2. Now adjust the qualities of the movie (size, colour, sound etc) until it’s as compelling as it can be. Most people find that making it lifesize and 3D with bright but natural-looking colour works best, but go with what works for you.
  3. Now step into the movie so you are seeing the action through your own eyes, as if you were already there. This should feel even better – and you can turn up that good feeling even more!
  4. Now step out again and shift your viewpoint a little way into the future beyond the event, so that you are looking back at the successful completion of it. Notice how you feel about it now.
  5. Come back to now and freeze-frame the movie so it forms a mental image you can easily remember to look at whenever you want to feel good about the upcoming event. You can replay the movie whenever you want. If you’ve made it sufficiently big, bright and compelling, your mind should now be expecting the event to go well, and any nerves you had will be more like a pleasant excitement or anticipation.

Let me know how you get on at andy@coachingleaders.co.uk – I love to hear your success stories.

Previously in this series: How to establish your credibility

Next time: How to deal with the ‘inner critic’

© 2008 – 2021, Andy Smith. All rights reserved.

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