How to Use Mental Rehearsal to Optimise Your Performance

What are your goals for this year? What do you aim or hope to achieve, or experience?

Is this the year you get the body you’ve been dreaming of, or finally take up that new sport or hobby you’ve been putting off? Maybe you’ve decided you want to learn a new skill, or take a new class.

Unless you can imagine something that you want to happen, then it isn’t going to happen. It is only in making a mental picture of yourself healthy, calm, more confident, slim, rich, stress free or anything else that you would like to experience, can change actually begin to happen.

Mental rehearsal prepares your mind and body to make things happen.

It’s quite common for someone to mentally rehearse failing their driving test or exam, or imagining the next panic attack and then becoming nervous and panicky. Sadly we rehearse quite a lot of failures in life rather than making a movie of how we really want things to go.

Mentally rehearsing things gives you the best chance of the outcome you want.

Let’s try Mental Rehearsal now …

Think of something that you want to do; perhaps you want to be calmer with your boss, or you want to be more confident in the presentation you have to do, or you want to eat healthier so that you can lose some weight.

1 – Watch a good example of what it is that you are looking to do. That way you can easily imagine what it would look like. If you can fully imagine yourself doing it in the way that you want straight away, that’s great. But for some people just tuning in to a role model really helps formulate just what you are wanting to do. It’ll give you some ideas.

2 – Now picture yourself actually doing it (a mental movie). Be inside the experience by imagining looking out of your own eyes. Get the feelings of actually doing the skill and being the person who can do the skill really well. Give the movie a ‘title’ so that you can simply think of the title and the movie begins to play, and you can begin to feel the feelings that create what you want to do.

3 – As you imagine yourself doing this, what is this giving you in the wider scale of things? Peace, calmness, centeredness, strength? Think about all that this change will bring for you, imagining what having this in your life will bring you.

4 – Mentally rehearse what you are wanting to do in the way you want to do it regularly. Perhaps a couple of times when you wake up, at lunch time and when you go to bed.

This mental exercise will cause your brain to change. You are changing the activity, the chemistry and the re-wiring of the regions that have created the old behaviour/action you want to change. It’s like you’re upgrading your inner mind’s computer (the software and the hardware).

In fact you are changing the activity in multiple brain regions, you are combining thinking, imaging, and emotional parts of your brain with the parts of the brain that focus on long-term goals.

This simple exercise is a great brain workout and starts to create the change process that you are looking for.

What if you can’t do this?

That’s good for you to know because now you know what may have been stopping you in the past from making changes in your life. It may answer why you can’t stick to that diet or be calmer when you want to be. Think about what is happening when you try and mentally rehearse something. Do you go blank? Can you not create an image at all? Note what’s happening and think about what may be behind the challenge to imagine something new.

Some people have needed to not think about imaging or rehearsing anything, as it takes them into the future and the future is just too uncertain.

Others may find that in rehearsing and getting what they want that there is an unconscious downside to the success, thus it’s better not to imagine things differently. So if they become slim, then they will have to look more closely at the relationship they are in, and that’s too much to consider.

There is always a positive intention behind what is happening here. It’s just a case of putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Once you’ve found this out then often then brain begins to allow you to imagine, and change happens more naturally.

Let me know how it goes below, or how you’ve rehearsed it to go!


P.S – If you would like to find more out about how the mind can work for you and not against you, then why not join us on our Free 1 Day Masterclass in Hypnosis and NLP. Its coming up soon in London. Find out more here.


Written by 

Sandra Westland is a Founder and Director of Contemporary College of Therapeutic Studies. She runs workshops and lectures across the world in a variety of psychological approaches. She is a bestselling author of 5 books and maintains a private practice in Essex, UK.

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