Are you an aspiring leader who knows you have more to offer but you can't seem to get ahead? Do you frequently feel overwhelmed and undersupported? Listen to the overcome to become podcast as we talk about actionable tasks and mindsets that you can apply to begin leading yourself.
Hi my name is Angela Buckley, your host and author of the Strength and Nature Leadership series. I'm a mother, consultant, triathlete and author. In Overcome to Become I share with you the science fact and experience proven lessons I've learned in my own leadership journey to beat burnout.
Thanks for listening.
Hi and welcome back to the 4th episode of Overcome to Become. My name is Angela Buckley and I am your host here today. I am the author of strength in Nature Leadership series. I am a mother, consultant and triathlete.
This week we wanted to talk to you about visualization. So just a quick review what we've talked about so far. We talked about goals, the definition of overwhelm and all of the things that we want to be working on in order to overcome overwhelm. We talked about dream big and start small and we talked about smart goals, what those are with one of our guest speakers. And then today we're going to be talking about visualization.
What is this visualization? Why are we doing it, and how does it actually help us and impact our ability to overcome the overwhelm?
During the episode about dreaming big and starting small, I revealed to you that really 10 years ago I did not have a focus on where I wanted to go with my leadership journey. I really was only just getting started understanding what leading with intention and intentional leadership really meant and what it meant for me. I have been grateful to have been successful in most areas of my life, but I didn't understand how leadership really could have such a powerful or pivotal role in the execution of projects, in the support of the people around you and really having the overall impact in our society?
I want to say I was young, but I really wasn't that young. I just think that I was lucky to have been around many good leaders and that I was lucky to have been imbued with some leadership skills. But some leadership skills are is not enough for truly overcoming the overwhelm and truly having a long-term positive impact on the world. I think when we really want to work successfully, we have to be very intentional about that.
And intentional means having a vision of where we want to go and what that positive impact really ought to look like. So today visualization.
You will hear visualization included in meditation techniques. You will hear visualization included in prayer techniques. And in fact, in the Catholic and even Orthodox Church, you will see many statues and many icons that were included as part of the worship experience because it was helping us visualize when we're engaging in Visualization.
It is engaging multiple parts of the brain, so that's an important aspect when we're talking about overcoming overwhelm. So the first part in visualization is really finding a sense of calm.
It's also finding that sense of dream, where is that that you are trying to go and then creating that picture of what that looks like for you. I have revealed to you many times that I race for Team USA as a part of the aquathlon and aquabike teams. I really enjoy this aspect of my life. It gets me outdoors. It uses my physical abilities. It forces me to grow.
But importantly, it also forces me to use many of the techniques that I talk about during overcome the overwhelm in order to get my mind right and put the best effort forth on the field.
This year, 2022, has been the absolute worst year for me when it comes to breathing. I have struggled with some of the climate change effects that we have had in our area. I've struggled with allergies in a way that I didn't know that I would ever struggle with. We have very few allergies deeply rooted in our family, but this year just was not my year.
I struggled to breathe. Literally, I struggled to breathe. And in hindsight, I think I know that much of it was an allergic reaction to some of the things that were going around and also what was happening in our local water supply. Swimming in the outdoors, unfortunately struggling to breathe when you're in an endurance sport is actually a big deal. And when you're in the water, you really do not want to have an anxiety attack, which will only exacerbate that. We also know that in aging athletes, and sorry to admit but I do fall into that category, but in aging athletes there is something called exercise induced bronchioconstriction (EIB).
It's sort of like having an asthma attack, and one of the things that exacerbates it is cold water. And unfortunately, swimming in cold water with potential allergens only exacerbates the entire problem that I was having with breathing, so going into Nationals this year, I was struggling physically and mentally to jump into the water and race my heart out.
I needed a visualization technique to get me through the day. I needed to find a sense of calm. I needed to find a reason to want to race. And I needed to find an image that I was going to hold tight in my brain as I was going through working through the emotions of being afraid to swim in cold water.
I needed to find an image that would work for me that I could handle getting into cold water and overcoming the fear associated with not being able to breathe.
The image that I came up with for myself was Jesus steering a motor boat and I would be able to swim in the calm behind the boat. Listen, I know that it's not a real thing. Motorboats kick up a ton of pollutants and they actually do not have a little wake behind them that's easier to swim in. But the image was there for myself somehow. I had this like half chariot driving kind of concept with Him at a motor boat and I was able to swim in this calm space.
That was my image. Maybe one day I'll sketch that out, but it worked for me. And if you've ever been in a triathlon and hundreds of people trying to fight for space and at Nationals, we're all good swimmers. So we're all trying to fight for the same space at the front of the pack. It's a thing. You're getting hit, there's kicking, there's elbows, there's people swimming right and left because we don't have lane lines. Everybody wants to get to that next orange buoy and so there's a lot of turbulence. So for me to be able to find an image where I could knock out that turbulence, where I could breathe calmly and focus on the next stroke was very important to me.
So my visualization while I was in the water was this image of calm and this image of safety. Yes, my swim is 25 minutes, depends on which course we're doing. But I needed a sense of calm, I needed something that would help me regulate my breathing, and I needed something that would give me the focus that I needed to complete and so this was my visualization that I choose to share with you. And then the other reason that I visualize the other part that I have for my visualization in my racing technique is also.
Why? Why am I even getting in this water that is turbulent and occasionally scary? And part of that is because I want to prove to myself that I can do these things. And I really do enjoy getting out and celebrating nature and celebrating the body that I've been given and being a part of a community of people who are also celebrating physical fitness and Wellness and simply being alive.
But also, I am excited to demonstrate to my son that I can get in and overcome things that are challenging, that are fearful, but then rewarding at the end. And so this combination of visualization. I'm visualizing my calm during the race, during my swim, and then if I have a running portion, I'm visualizing soaring and being light on my feet.
And throughout the day I'm visualizing the red carpet, which is what we get to run down as we finish our races. So visualization is an powerful technique and we see that even in the science as they do tests, they can do some dynamic tests of the brain if you have a powerful and calming visualization during a challenge that's put to you.
People who have that calm sense are able to overcome and keep some of the anxiety at Bay. And in fact that elevated heart rate, that shallow breathing, all of these things that are associated with overwhelm are also elements of anxiousness and anxiety. And some of these things are very natural reactions to difficult and challenging activities.
But the way we can get through them is by finding our calm, finding the deep breath, and finding a way of visualizing setting in our brain what that calm looks like, what that calm feels like, maybe what that calm sounds like to you. Putting all that together, we see that the brain and the body respond to this powerful technique.
That sometimes takes a while to practice. That sometimes takes a little bit of discipline to focus on. And we talk about how we can create the image, how we can find that visualization for ourselves, and how we can really enact that. During the time when we're racing, when we're facing challenges, when we're going about our day-to-day and something comes up that is unexpected, that drives us into that overwhelm reaction, how do we get to a point?
Where we can get back to the calm? Visualization is one of these techniques that I would highly encourage you to look at. And if you want to learn more about it, you can find more about that at our blog and also in some of our classes. Thanks for listening today. This is Angela Buckley. I look forward to bringing you more tips on how to overcome the overwhelm in future episodes.
You've just concluded an episode of Overcome to Become, a leadership podcast focusing on leading yourself first. Thanks for listening. I'm Angela Buckley with creatively efficient author of the strength and Nature Leadership series.
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