On this date Roger Bannister became the first person to run a recorded mile in under four minutes breaking the previous record by two by 2 seconds. This record, held by Gunder Hagg of Sweden, had stood for nearly 10 years with many people believing a sub-four minute mile to be impossible. Yet, just over six weeks later Roger Bannister’s record had been broken and in the interim some 30 athletes had run the mile in less than four minutes.
So what had changed? Well the mile had not got shorter and people did not suddenly get more talented. It was simply that knowing the mile could be run in under four minutes athletes now believed that they could do it as well.
Roger Bannister used what I would describe as self-hypnosis to support his feat. As well as intensive training and running with other top miler’s who acted as pace makers for him, he time and time again ran that race in his mind and visualised what was necessary if he was to break the four minute barrier. In fact he hypnotised himself into believing he could do it.
Each of us self-hypnotises every day, often without realising it and many athletes consciously visualise their performance in an event or a game. However, from the runner who constantly relives an injury occurrence, to a tennis player replaying a bad point to the golfer with swing problems most of us, unfortunately, are better at visualising the negative rather than the positive outcomes. We can be so effective at this that we can convince ourselves of the negative outcome – the runner repeats the injury, the tennis player another bad shot, the golfer develops the “yips”, or as Henry Ford put it “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t – In both cases you are correct”. This is where hypnosis, particularly self-hypnosis, can help.
Hypnosis is an often misunderstood approach to overcoming problems. Some people are worried about loss of control or being forced into doing they do not want to do. None of this is true as under hypnosis you cannot be made to do anything you do not want to do and there is no loss of control over your mind. However, hypnosis can be a strong tool to help you overcome your fears or negative behaviours. It can turn your thinking from “Can’t” to “Can”.
In the fitness context this can lead to improved performance, increased motivation and speedier recovery from injury. For example, even a Sunday morning plodder with bad Achilles tendons, like myself, took nearly six minutes from their 10K personal best by self-hypnosis and visualising the positive emotions of success rather than the negative pain of the run.
While the top performers are often very good at self-hypnosis and visualising positive outcomes, many of us need help to realise the benefits, particularly when first starting, and this is where a qualified hypnotherapist can help. Whatever your issue, whether sports related or not, I can work with you to help you relax and get your mind focussed the positive outcomes to help you achieve your goals. At first I start with general hypnotic techniques to help you visualise your goals and come to believe that you can achieve them, I rapidly turn to teaching you self-hypnosis techniques that you can use on a daily basis to reinforce the sessions with me. This will allow you to enhance the benefits of the sessions with me and gradually achieve self-sufficiency.
I will leave you with one final thought – how many young athletes out there are visualising the sub-two hour marathon, and how long will it be until one of them believes it enough to achieve it?