Just as an Olympic athlete visualizes herself going through a ski run or a gymnastics routine, you can improve important communications through visualization. The prospective conversation might be a request for a raise, a discussion with your teenager concerning ground rules, or a meeting with your clergy person about problems with a fellow congregant. Any situation in which you’d like a little mental or emotional boost.
Now, choose a quiet time and place and get comfortable. Relax your body and mind. You might like to refer back to our February resolution for tips on relaxation. Think of a time when you felt completely joyful and at ease, in sync with the Universe, and visualize that occasion.
One of my favorites is a scene where I rested beside a babbling brook during a mountain hike. The shade is cool. The running water makes the air smell fresh. I see the different shades of green foliage and ripples in the water. I feel the rock I’m sitting on.
Focus on the physical sensations in your scene—what you see, hear, feel and smell. Then, notice how you feel. All tension has melted away. You are relaxed, yet full of energy and confidence. So confident you feel no need to hurry. You have all the time in the world. This is the frame of mind and the emotional state in which you are most likely to enjoy success in your important conversation.
While still in that state, visualize yourself with the person you’ll see in the prospective conversation. Begin with the person’s relaxed face, perhaps waiting with genuine interest to hear what you have to say. If you begin to feel any tension, return to the scene of your happy memory. When you can see the other person’s face while still in your relaxed and confident state, picture him smiling and nodding, agreeing with you. See him shaking hands with you. Feel the warmth of his hand. Or if it’s your teen, see and feel a hug.
That’s enough for your first visualization. Next time, after reliving your happy memory, maintain your relaxed, confident feelings while you mentally see and hear the other person objecting to what you say. Remain relaxed and confident as you reply. You don’t necessarily have to hear his precise words or yours. Just see yourself talking and his face gradually relaxing from a negative to a positive expression. Rest in the final handshake until you can simultaneously feel as joyful as you did in your happy scene.
But how can we practice visualization as this month’s resolution if we don’t have an important conversation coming up? Simply practice visualizing, and relaxing into, your past happy scene, your version of my babbling brook. This is great mental and emotional exercise in and of itself, and it will enable you to call up your relaxed, confident state more easily in the future.
Later, you will not only reach that state more easily when you have a prospective conversation to visualize, you can call up that state shortly before entering the actual conversation. And that’s the best payoff. When you remain relaxed and confident in a real life dialogue, you build your confidence even more in an ever increasing upward spiral.