You’re planning to attend a networking event and show off your work for the first time.
Or you have a presentation to give for class and the thought of speaking in public gives you hives.
Or you’ve landed a job interview at your dream company but have just found out that many of the other applicants have much more experience than you.
Or you’re scheduled to take a test next week and its outcome will decide significant things about your future.
In all areas of our lives, we face things that frighten us, often through experiences in which a positive outcome is not guaranteed. When encountering these situations, fear tends to be our first response, followed closely by negativity regarding our ability. This response, though natural, causes us to become limited in our problem-solving capabilities.
When we tell ourselves that we cannot successfully complete a task, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a vicious cycle that limits our growth and stunts our achievements. But we do not have to stay stuck in this cycle of negativity. We can, through positive visualization, switch our negative thoughts to positive ones and succeed—or even exceed our expectations.
How does this all work? Can you really just think about something and make it happen? In many ways, you can.
Our minds are powerful things. The messages we feed ourselves shape our thoughts and feelings. Our thoughts and feelings in turn influence our actions, and our actions can have a profound effect on how we identify ourselves. Positive thinking renews our minds and reframes the way that we see ourselves in relation to the challenges that we face each day.
Here are two practical steps toward more positive thinking:
1. Positive Journaling
Every night before falling asleep, write down three positive things about you, or your upcoming project, or anything really. They don’t need to be true right now, but they do need to be written in your own handwriting. This is very personal, so computer typing won’t cut it.
Think about specifics of what you most fear and what response would promote the best outcome. Then, write yourself into those statements in a positive manner. For example, if you are a graphic designer and are feeling anxious about an upcoming presentation of your portfolio to a potential employer, write positive statements about yourself such as: I am good at explaining what I do each day and I clearly convey my passion for design. I bring a sense of calm to conversations. I have a valuable point of view and my creative voice brings something unique and meaningful to the world.
Write only positive things that are true, or are things you want to be true. Do it every night leading up to your event.
2. Visualizing Success
Every time you get a bit flustered about the future, turn your specific worry into a positive visualization. Intentionally pause and take the time to turn the negative thought into a positive prophecy; view the positive in you mind’s eye. Visualize everything coming together. Visualize passing along great ideas. Visualize being a success. Be sure to visualize specifics, and not just generalities. Visualize actual words or facial expressions—actual settings and locations. Visualize yourself as the positive statements you’ve been writing coming to pass.
Though the fear will never completely go away, with positive visualization you are sure to enter into the experience with a mindset that is more open and nimble, ready to act and expecting good things. Who knows…you may discover a whole new part of yourself when you trade in your negative thoughts for positive ones.
In the next several days, try to think more positively and just see what might happen!
Lisa Hammershaimb is a Department Chair of Graphic Design for the Online department of Stevens-Henager College. Lisa has over five years of experience as a print-based designer and never ceases to be amazed at the positive change that good design brings to the world.