Imagery: A skill for life?

By Fernanda Serra de Queiroz

I would like to thank the BRIO group for the opportunity to talk a little bit about my PhD research topic in this blog. I’m doing my PhD at the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) under the supervision of Prof. Stephanie Hanrahan. During the first semester of 2015 I’m at the University of Birmingham learning about imagery with the BRIO group crew.

Sport psychologists normally look at how teaching mental skills to athletes can be beneficial for enhancing performance and enjoyment of participation. Athletes use these mental skills for situations such as coping with performance under pressure, decision making and concentration, setting goals, recover after mistakes among other things. What I’m interested in investigating is how the skills athletes use to cope with the aforementioned situations can also be useful in areas of life outside of sport.

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Daily Life vs. Sport

It is possible to argue that there are many similarities with daily life and sports. An important presentation to your boss and colleagues at work could be as stress provoking as playing your sport in front of a big crowd. We could probably deal more effectively with these challenges of daily life if we had the appropriate set of skills. This “set of skills” have been named as “life skills”.

According to Gould and Carson (2008), life skills can be considered as internal assets, characteristics and skills. Life skills can be “behavioural (communicating effectively with peers and adults) or cognitive (making effective decisions); interpersonal (being assertive) or intrapersonal (setting goals)” (Danish et al., 2004, p. 40). Thus could imagery be a life skill?

Referring back to this blog first post by Dr Jennifer Cumming, she mentioned that regular and effective use of imagery could speed the road to success in sport and help athletes to cope better with adversities. The use of imagery has been associated with many positive outcomes such as increase in sport confidence and a strategy to cope with pre-competitive anxiety. Athletes can use imagery to mentally prepare for performance, to rehearse plans and routines, and to manage emotion and physiological arousal.

Returning to the first example of the work presentation, could imagery be used in that situation to help with pre-presentation jitters? A mental rehearsal of the presentation could probably increase the confidence of the office worker. Thus imagery could be considered as a life skill.

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Unfortunately we are not taught imagery, and people may even confuse with day dreaming (e.g. if I win the lottery I will…). However the importance of “positive thinking” and of being “confident” is a message that is widely spread. Importantly, the research on the sport psychology has shown imagery is a skill that could help people to think of positive scenarios and increase confidence.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 1999) because life skills are abilities, they can be taught and practiced. The WHO advocates for life skills to be taught at schools, this organization believes that life skills can shape personal actions, or actions towards others, or even actions that positively change the surrounding. Therefore it is important to learn and practice life skills such as imagery. So I would suggest you to keep following this blog and get some valuable insight on the use of imagery with the BRIO specialists.

About the author: Fernanda Serra de Queiroz is a PhD student studying life skills at the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia).  

2 thoughts on “Imagery: A skill for life?

  1. Pingback: You have been using imagery your entire life but you did not even realize it! | Birmingham Research in Imagery and Observation (BRIO) Group

  2. Pingback: Imagery: A skill for life? | Fredrik Weibull's Blog

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