Research Paper By Maria Tsangaridou
(Confidence Coach, CYPRUS)
What is the difference between people that take action and people that don’t? It is so simple that is almost impossible to believe it. The answer is a certainty.
Just think about it for a second. If you were so certain that your actions would give you the results that you wish for, wouldn’t everybody pursue their goals without any questions or hesitations? Of course.
On the other hand, if you were absolutely certain that no matter what you do the results you wish for won’t come, the only thing you would do is just nothing, right? Who wants to work hard for…nothing?
The key is to train your mind to create absolute certainty – to fill yourself with the belief that you can create the results you want no matter what is happening to the external world.
One of the many examples of imagery training that I have studied is the following:
In 1954 Roger Bannister accomplished something that no one believed that could ever be achievable. Breaking 1 mile in 4 minutes. Doctors but even people, in general, were saying that it was physically impossible.
But how Roger achieved that? Roger didn’t go out and start running (physical practice). He started training his mind (mental practice) and he started to envision himself breaking that 4-minute barrier. He knew that no matter how much he trained his body if he was going to get the results he wanted, he had to change his mental state first. So, he started mental training every single day.
So, by practising and visualizing (imagery training) himself doing that, he became so certain that he was able to achieve his goal, with every fibre of his being. 1
What obstacles you might find?
As we are living in an ongoing and continuously changing world we usually find obstacles such as underline and limited beliefs. We have the tendency for self-doubt and filling our minds with negative thoughts. Another common factor is caring for what others are going to say about our actions or behaviours. The significance that we are giving to the words of others set us in a state that we do half-hearted efforts than giving 100% of ourselves into what we do.
Also, unconscious beliefs do hold us back.
What is imagery training?
Imagery training is a technique that is helping people to overcome these limitations. It gives us the opportunity to see ourselves succeeding but in a detailed and specific way. Due to that, not only we see ourselves actually succeeding but it becomes a full-body experience as emotions are a big part of this exercise and create a unique experience.
“Experiences of emotion are content-rich events that emerge at the level of psychological description but must be causally constituted by neurobiological processes.”2
Imagery training helps individuals:
- To build their strengths and eliminate weaknesses.
- To regulate anxiety, they are feeling during their performances, stay confident and mentally tough.
- To speed up their progress to the top through continues development of their skills.
- Changing (shifting) their way of thinking. By changing the way we think we create the result we want and that is a state of mind that helps individuals to achieve any goal they have.
- Stay motivated along the way.
- Using imagery training to rehab any injuries (in case of sports athletes) and regain the ability to start their physical exercise more quickly.
Let’s call her Anni.
Anni is a nurse in a Private Hospital in Cyprus.
Anni first came to me with the desire to build her confidence in order to get a future promotion as a sister. She wanted to learn how to speak for herself to the managers of the Hospital, so she could be able to handle unpredictable challenges or behaviours.
That was a problem to her because she was feeling that she deserved to get a promotion because of her Master’s Degree however the new Junior Manager wasn’t as good as she and didn’t have any Master’s Degree. Also, the relationship with her husband wasn’t helpful in her personal life.
The problem was there before she had her first baby approx. 1-2 years back.
She was working night shifts before she got pregnant and now after a few months she had her newborn she had to go back to work and the night’s shifts began again.
The worst thing about this problem was that she was trying to control everyone and every situation and challenge that was happening around her.
No one has been able to solve the problem so far because her beliefs and strong desire to overcontrol everyone was making her annoying and compulsive to others. Others might have tried to help her in a way, however, she couldn’t accept their help because it appeared to her as she was the weak person in the relationship.
Her ego was not letting her accept guidance or help from anyone and often when people talk their opinion to her she was receiving that as a threat or as someone was trying to judge and insult her. Her mind wasn’t open to understand and become aware of the positive things that were happening to her and to be really mindful for new information.
I used a variety of coaching skills to that specific client as she was my first one and I was trying to find the best way to guide her.
- First, I used Power Listening. For me was the most important skills to apply to the procedure as I was deeply listening and receiving all the data that the client was giving to me.
- The acknowledgement was another skill as it comes out very natural to me. When Ani told me about her work and all the certifications that she had was inevitable for me not to acknowledge all her work. From that moment a trusted moment arises. I can remember that she was surprised and also a bit shy about that “compliment”.
- Next, I used Powerful Questions with my client that they occur from the receiving data but also from a details preparation I had days before my very first session. I had collected many questions and separate them into what type of circumstances might be asked ex. Getting to know questions, Setting Goals questions or Evaluation questions.
- Gratitude exercises come up at some point of our coaching collaboration that made Ani realise some important aspect of her life.
I used a lot of coaching skills and techniques from our first session with Anni. I used the Wheel of Life assessment so she can see what her life looks like today and discuss ways and actions in areas she wanted to change. That exercise made her think about a lot of different aspects of her life. She talked about how the relationship with her girlfriends made her feel uncomfortable and unloved.
The significant of the relationship with her spouse and her love for travelling.
Strength finder was another technique that I used. She uncovered sides of herself that were buried deep inside of her such as empathy, listening. She realized that she wasn’t letting anyone tell her something different than she thought.
Finally, I used the technique of visualization (imagery training) by asking her how she can see her ideal life inside her mind describing the feelings, colours and the energy level that she was
That was a breakthrough moment for Anni, as she started crying when she realized that her son was the most important person for her and how much energy was spared into unimportant events. She realized that by visualising what she really wanted to do and how she wanted to achieve it was helping her become more emotional relate to her goal.
Visualization with Ani
After we discuss the fact that Ani is getting really frustrated from the relationship with her friends mentioned that she feels hurt and disappointed.
Maria: You mentioned that you feel hurt in regards to your relationship with your friends. Did I hear correct?
Maria: Where do you feel this in your body?
Ani: What do you mean?
Maria: In what part of your body do you feel this emotion (that pain)?
Ani: Oh, ok here…. (she shows her chest).
Maria: So, it is in your chest, right?
Maria: Ok Ani, can I have your permission to challenge you here?
Ani: Yes…. (sceptical)
Maria: There is one technique that is called Visualization. This technique helps you to create motion and pictures in your mind and gives you the opportunity to attached emotions to them so you create your own reality and ideal life. How is that sound to you?
Ani: Sound interesting (laughing).
Maria: So, I would like you to take 3 deep breaths and slowly close your eyes and describe to me what colour is that pain that you feel?
Ani: Colour? Well, there was no colour but its dark.
Maria: So, it’s dark. And where are you right now?
Ani: Standing in the middle of a road.
Maria: Do you see yourself as if you are inside your body or as an outside observer?
Ani: Outside observer.
Maria: Ok, can you describe to me what is around you?
Ani: The road, that continues up to the hill. Some houses around.
Maria: What is the weather?
Ani: There is a bright sun.
Maria: So, you are standing on a road, warm weather, somewhere in the countryside…. Are there any people around?
Ani: Yes, on the left side of the road are my girlfriends and upon the top of the hill is my husband and my baby boy.
Maria: Do you still have this pain in your chest?
Maria: What is the level of the pain at the moment from a scale 1 – 10?
Ani: Around 9.
Maria: So, there is a lot of pain.
Ani: Yes, there is.
Maria: What can be causing the pain?
Ani: I think I know. I think is my friends that they are looking at me. They make me feel really uncomfortable and sad.
Maria: What do you want to do with that feeling?
Ani: Get rid of it.
Maria: Can you think any ways that you can do that?
Ani:….yes. Just move forward and let it go. Let them talk.
Maria: Moving forward ha? What can you see if you move forward?
Ani: My baby boy.
Maria: Would you like to move a bit forward and describe to me what do you feel when you mention your baby boy?
Ani: He is my everything. I never expected to feel like this in my entire life. He is giving me all the happiness of the world and he deserves my attention and focus.
Maria: What else?
Ani: He makes me feel whole.
Maria: Did you reach to the top of the hill?
Maria: What can you see at the bottom from where you standing?
Ani: Them, looking at me and admiring me.
Maria: What is the level of the pain right now? From 1 – 10?
Ani: It is a 0.
Maria: Ok so, you can slowly open your eyes and take 3 deep breaths. What is your take out from this exercise?
Ani: I believe that letting go of this relationship and people that make you sad will actually make me feel better as I found out that my family is the most important thing to me right now.
If I could approach this problem again I probably would change my approach as a Trainer and be much more pure Coach. I would also improve my listening skills. This is because Anni is a woman who likes to hear what to do and she is doing it, however, this doesn’t last long because she tends to detour from her goals as she mentioned.
With this approach, she probably would be able to stick to her goals because of her own answers to her questions. Awareness is a really huge factor in someone’s progress towards her goal.
3 things I learned and still learning from this case is:
- The control of my emotions and not get attached to the situation or the client.
- Sharing your observation and empathy is a strong tool that also helped my client to feel more comfortable in our space.
- Finally, the fact that I was sometimes in a rush with myself deliver an outcome for my client and not giving her the space to learn and discover from her words made me realize that it is not helpful to anyone because of their lack of personal involvement in the outcome.
Using visualization in your everyday life can literally help you get anything you want. That is because is not just picturing what you want to happen but it is like a living, feeling and experiencing with every bone of your body what you perceived. That can only happen if you do it right. And I mean you don’t visualize losing weight and you eat a sandwich an hour later. Consistency and discipline are two crucial factors that can help you visualize right.
This is something that great athletes, speakers, trainers, authors, actors are doing. Everyone can do it.
“Mental simulations enhance the links between thought and action. The present research contrasted mental simulations that emphasize the process required to achieve a goal versus the outcome of goal achievement”.
Anderson, C. A. (1983).Imagination and expectation: The effect of imagining behavioural scripts on personal intentions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 293-305. Google Scholar, Crossref, ISI
Anderson, C. A., &Sechler, E. S. (1986).Effects of explanation and counter explanation on the development and use of social theories. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 24-34. Google Scholar, Crossref, ISI
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social-cognitive theory.Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Google Scholar
Cratty, B. J. (1984). Psychological preparation and athletic excellence.Ithaca, NY: Mouvement. Google Scholar