Toolbox: Visual Affirmations
Throughout my racing career I was always looking to add a visual, tangible element to my mental training program. I would listen to The Ultimate Cyclist hypnosis CD and repeat affirmations but I never figured out a method for reinforcing those positive audio suggestions with visual and tactile stimulation.
The obvious solution was to write the affirmations as I said them. The writing would engage a pathway, from my brain to my hand and reading it as I go would stimulate the pathway from my eyes to my brain.
The problem was that unlike my other psychological tools, this one actually required intention as opposed to the CD which I listened to at night while I slept. I did the affirmations on my rides. This required added training time and focus which is one of the things I try to avoid when creating new mental training techniques.
A few months ago I stumbled on a solution. This is one of the best training techniques I have ever developed in terms of instant gratification. Unlike the other exercises, which take weeks or even months to create results, this technique works immediately.
The answer came to me during an intense period of stress as I tried to get my new bike company off the ground. It occurred to me that the stress I was experiencing had a visual incarnation in my imagination. I didn’t just feel stressed, I actually saw the stress in my minds eye.
I could almost see the incarnations of my stress looming like mountains surrounding me from every side. I felt like I was living in a shack at the bottom of a canyon with these huge incarnations of my stress looming high above me, crushing me, making it hard to breath. Each looming mountain represented something different; fear of failure, fear of running out of time, money related worries; exhaustion and anxiety
I needed to change that image. I should be visualizing myself standing on the top of those mountains looking down on my troubles, on top, dominating them.
So I created this drawing.
It also occurred to me that my stress reaction was vastly disproportionate to all the other good things going on in my life. The problem, no matter how small, blocked out the sun in my world. It overshadowed everything else that was going on, in my business and even in my life. The problem had a size. It had mass. It made everything else seem small.
So I created this drawing, putting the size of the problem in perspective:
Creating a visual representation of how I wanted to approach my problems, instantly changed my perspective.
No matter how out of control your life seem to be, you are still the one in charge. How you experience life has everything to do with how you choose to look at it. Sometimes, all it takes to make a change is a new perspective. You see good things and more good things happen. You see bad things and more bad things happen.
I am a visual learner so once I created this image it was forever imprinted in my mind. Any time I slipped and needed a push back into that dominant position over my problems I could do a quick sketch or look at one I had done before or even just close my mind and imagine it.
After a couple of these drawings I felt back in control. Now, I don’t even need to make the drawing anymore. If things get overwhelming I just close my eyes, imagine the drawing and things fall back into perspective.
Josh is the owner and manager of the Wonderful Pistachios Professional Cycling Team. Josh is also USCF Certified coach. For more information about his coaching services and any coaching questions you may have, check out his website at LiquidFitness.com. Also, follow Josh on Twitter for training tips and team updates. This is a great way to find out when we will be coming to your town so you can hit us up for some free pistachios. Mention PezCycling News when you see us and we’ll even crack them for you!