Like many kiwi’s I too was up cheering on with pride at 5am Sunday morning as our boys won the Rugby World Cup… again! I loved what All Blacks Coach, Steve Hansen, said: “worry is a wasted emotion”. Hansen understands a key element of success is directing your focus on the results you want and planning to achieve those results.
What happens in the brain when we worry
From a neuroscience perspective, when we worry and imagine a bad outcome – like losing to Australia! Or something almost as scary, such as knowing we have to do a presentation at work – we often start strengthening the neural pathways of what we don’t want to have happen by worrying about it and what may go wrong. And guess what? The strongest neural pathways will win out, a little bit like when you’re walking, it’s much easier to take the well trodden path than beat a new one through the bush. Our brain is the same – it likes taking the well trodden neural-pathways.
So when that little ticker tape of inner chatter or self-talk starts up with thoughts about that presentation “oh no, what if I stuff it up, what if I get tongue tied, or stage fright…. “ through this worry you are misusing your imagination, and essentially programming your brain for what you don’t want to have happen!
And if you hold onto that mindset what result do you think you’ll get? After all, you’ve been priming your brain to expect that negative result. Turning this around and imagining and focusing what you do want will generate a different outcome – and Hansen’s wise words embody this.
Prime your brain for success
You are much more likely to succeed if you spend your time planning, preparing and focusing your imagination on what you want to have happen. It’s all about strengthening positive neural pathways that will lead you towards goal achievement.
Something important to note: when you are using your imagination to focus on or mind rehearse an outcome or goal you want to program into your neurology, ensure the emotional state you are in isn’t going to work against you. Relaxation is an essential skill for effective mind rehearsal, because what do you think your result would be if you practice your goal in your mind whilst you are feeling anxious….? The anxiety would get encoded into the neural pathway.
This is why when I work with clients to overcome obstacles to their success, such as limiting beliefs or phobias, I always include hypnotic relaxation, because in hypnosis you are calm and relaxed and able to focus and access beneficial inner resources and rewire neural pathways, without anxiety or self-doubt getting in the way.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can optimise your extraordinary mind for success, let’s talk!