That’s right future memories. Both past and future memories can be really helpful in breaking patterns of negative thoughts and feelings.
First the past memories
A hypnotherapist will often re-connect clients with positive thoughts and feelings by allowing their mind to take them back to times in the past when they had the feelings they would like to have again now, such as feelings of confidence. It doesn’t matter if the client can consciously recall such a time, as they can be gently guided to re-discover those times.
The next step is to bring those positive experiences back into the present, the here and now so they’re available to assist in breaking the cycle of negative thoughts and feelings.
Now the future memories
Here we can make use of the useful idea that the mind has difficulty distinguishing between real events and imagined events. This inability to distinguish is often what feeds anxiety, the mind can become expert at imagining things going wrong in all manner of ways in the future and can then take these to be reality.
In contrast, If we can imagine ourselves doing something well then that becomes a future memory, a positive blueprint that the mind can use when it thinks about what is going to happen. So much better than a negative blueprint which is all about replaying how things have not gone well in the past or imagining all that can go wrong.
It’s important to make these future memories as real as possible
It turns out not everyone imagines things in the same way.
Some people are very visual, for others it’s more important what they are saying to themselves or what they are hearing. There’s also our other senses to consider, including the feelings in our body and how it feels when we’re confident. These feelings are something you may not yet be consciously aware of, we may be familiar with how it feels to be anxious (butterflies perhaps?), but what about how it feels when we are confident or relaxed?
What’s also curious is we also imagine differently something we know to be true and something we do not yet believe. For instance the colours may be brighter when we recall something we are sure of and less vivid when we recall something we’re not so sure of.
So, if we want to make this future memory as accurate as possible, then we need to know how we recall something we know to be true and make sure we apply those same rules as we create our future memories, as that way they’re much more powerful.
We can put this all together in Imaginary Rehearsal
We can then use our minds to rehearse how we want to think, feel and act in a particular scenario in the future - perhaps when we give a presentation, or go for an interview, or take a test.
If we imagine this so it looks and feels like something we know to be true then we create a positive blueprint that replaces any negative blueprint left from negative past experiences or an overactive imagination that has been generating all those potential disaster scenarios.
We can even use this imaginary rehearsal process to coach ourselves in how to deal with things that don’t go quite to plan. That way if we make a mistake in real life, we can accept it and just move on.