Are there things that make you nervous? Do you ever wonder how you would handle a situation? We live in a world where there are “not nice” people and there are people who don’t intend to be mean, but are mean accidentally. Do you know what you will do in that situation? Do you know what you will say? Do you know what you will feel?
Did you ever think of making a plan? Then most importantly, PRACTICING that plan so when we are put into an uncomfortable situation we know what we will do and it is easy. This way we don’t allow the uncomfortable situations to disrupt our day. Having a plan makes us more comfortable and makes those around us more comfortable too. It keeps us from getting so worked up that one negative interaction doesn’t ruin our entire day.
For example, pretend you have a test coming up and your best friend didn’t study. You spent all week studying. Do you know what you will say if they ask to copy? Or what you will do if you notice they are trying to look at your paper during the test? This is your very very best friend. You don’t want to make them mad and you don’t want to fight with them. Also, even though it’s not right for them to cheat, you don’t want to lose their friendship over it either. If you don’t have a plan, you might end up saying that they can cheat but then feeling guilty about it all day or so nervous about getting caught that you don’t end up doing well on the test. However, you can practice just through imagination in your own bedroom what you might say. For example, you could say, “We might get caught, and I could get a bad grade. I really need a good grade on this test, so I can’t risk it.” Practice that in your bedroom. Memorize it. Close your eyes and imagine your very best friend asking you. Then imagine you saying that sentence. Then imagine it again and again and again. Imagine all the different things your friend might say and what you would say back. And then imagine hanging out together after the test and still being friends. Repeat it over and over and over until you feel super comfortable with it. Then when it happens you will know what to do and even though you’ve never actually done it before you’ve practiced so often that it feels like you have.
There once was a college diver who got hurt at the beginning of the season. He couldn’t practice all season long. But still every day he showed up to the pool and laid on the pool deck with his eyes closed. From the outside, he looked so funny. His arms would go up and down and he’d hold himself in a ball then straighten out like an arrow. Every day he did this all season long. Right before the very last meet of the season the doctors said he was finally healed and allowed to dive. His team needed him to finish in at least third place to win the meet. No one expected him to be able to accomplish that because he hadn’t actually done a dive for most of the season. To everyone’s surprise, he walked out on the diving board full of confidence. He dove some of the most difficult dives of anyone at the meet and he finished in second place, just one point behind first place. His team went on to win the meet. He could dive with confidence because although he hadn’t actually practiced in the water for most of the season, he had practiced in his imagination so often that his body knew what to do when the time came to actually perform. We can do the same thing with anything in our life. Mental practice doesn’t have to be reserved for athletic performance; it can be used for anything.
What are you going to practice today?