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The Power of Positive Mental Imagery


Herman in yoga practice
Practicing yoga and mindfulness is a great way to discover your true authentic-self

I have always believed in the power of positive mental imagery. It has proven to be a unique and important tool in my journey of what is referred to as "life". The isn't exclusive just to me, but as human beings as a whole. We are designed perfectly and I want to remind you that you, the reader, are perfect!


Yes, we all have flaws and we fail time-after-time. However, that influences individual growth and helps us to become better humans; we learn. Since we tend to fall short, it is something to be celebrated. Hear me out . . .


As we make mistakes, we use those past experiences to define the present and predict a future. This can be good and bad. This is good because we find value in emotion and use that to make better decisions. McGil and Montel (2019) stated we use mental imagery to see a particular event in our head and it helps to influence a desired outcome (p.546). On the opposite side of that we can create anxiety and pressure within ourselves by using a negative experience, which is associated with emotion, to influence our decisions for a future that has not happened yet. And the circle goes round and round; the rabbit goes down the hole, etc.


We all know this. We all create a mental imagery or perhaps play-out a scene in our head for how our next presentation will go at work, or how our job interview will go, and in relations to physical activity - - how well will we do in our next sporting competition. These examples are relevant to mental imagery. What if we can use this super power to our advantage?


We can control our mental imagery by recognizing when we do so. We can influence desired behavioral outcomes by the intent and purposeful mental imagery; positively of course. Let's call this self-monitoring (McGill & Montel, 2019, p. 546). This would be like a pitcher on the mound seeing his release point on the pitch or the business-person believing in doing well during a work presentation to close a deal with sights on a promotion. Each situation is relevant in its own respect.


I recently did a podcast episode titled "Self-Monitoring" and it was recommended by my friend, Z. Thank you for the recommendation of the show's topic, Z! In this particular episode I discussed a study that was conducted by Shane Murphy, he is the author of the book "The Sports Psych Handbook" which was mentioned in my Sports Performance training. The psychology section of my training interested me. It discussed positive mental imagery and self-monitoring. There was a study of the effectiveness of self-monitoring and the results were astonishing.


Murphy discovered two interesting findings and took notes. In his research, they used a positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). which allows scientists to evaluate the function of a conscious brain. It was noted when people think of an activity in their head the part of the brain that is responsible for physical movement and cognitive function became activated. "When a person imagines a complex movement, the areas responsible for motor activity, sensory perception, proprioceptive feedback, and motor control (the cerebral cortex and cerebellum) both activate." (McGill & Montel, 2019, p. 546). Since this was discovered it was also evident they should attach sensory nodes to the person's muscles to see if there are any musclalar activity. The discovery revealed there was indeed muscular contractions (McGill & Montel, 2019, p. 546). So this essentially shows us that we can use positive mental imagery to create a desired behavior to influence a desired outcome.


"When a person imagines a complex movement, the areas responsible for motor activity, sensory perception, proprioceptive feedback, and motor control (the cerebral cortex and cerebellum) both activate." (McGill & Montel, 2019, p. 546).

This seems like something that is simply done. However, just as anything else, this takes practice. We need to harness this power and we can do so with repetition. We should practice in recognizing our conscious state and practice being in the now versus the past or [far] future. Through self-discovery and finding out true authentic-self we can understand who we really are and who we really want to become. Our behavior can be influenced through our own cognitive thought. Being present allows us to make decisions without bias or fear.


I realize there are arguments on both sides of this particular coin. One could argue we need past experiences to help determine a safe and practical decision. I do agree with this and just like all things in life; take a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Do what feels right for you; only you know. The point I am trying to make is be true to your authentic-self so you can have a clear sight of your goal to unlock your true potential. Besides, if being present helps you to level up and make better decisions in your life, why not give it a try?


Staying positive even through difficult times and having a positive mental attitude can help us with hope and have that mental edge to survive whatever we may encounter. I know this first-hand with my time overseas while serving in the military in the time of war. One thing the Marines taught me, and I believe it has helped me survive in-and-out of war, is to have a positive mental attitude. Knowing what I know now, from my training and life experiences, I am confident in stating that we are the keepers of our own happiness. For this to become true we must learn to be present and have control of our mind and body. There needs to be a connection and a healthy marriage between the two. The Power of Mental Imagery.




Reference

McGil, E. A., & Montel, I. (2019). Essentials of sports performance training (2nd ed.). Jones &

Bartlett Learning.


 

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