Flash back to your previous successes

A lack of confidence in high-pressure situations is common to many of us, so this pressure solution is sure to come in handy.

The basic idea is that by visualizing your past successes in similar situations, you stimulate the same type of responses that helped you before.

Pressure moments are filled with the uncertainty that you will deliver the goods. Remembering your past successes ignites confidence that you did it before and you can do it again. As your confidence increases, uncertainty (anxiety) and pressure are diminished, freeing you to approach the task with your best effort. Nervousness becomes transformed into positive enthusiasm that is directed to the task, rather than anxious thinking that is distracting.

“I’ve done it before. I can do it again” is the mantra of this pressure solution.

Flashing back to your previous successes is also helpful in pressure situations that call for a strong performance over a sustained period of time, like supervising a months-long project at work.

For these pressure scenarios, take a page from someone who successfully climbed Mount Everest. “One of my most useful strategies to keep me positive, confident that I’d make the summit, was to think of past climbs, or even earlier moments in the current climb. These images helped me a lot. I’d get a surge of energy when I needed it, and it made going through the tough time easier.”

Here’s an exercise to help you perfect this pressure solution:

  1. Make a list of the times you were successful (when you were at your best) in pressure moments.
  2. Sitting in a comfortable chair, regulate your breathing to a comfortable level.
  3. Relive these successful pressure moments, focusing on all the right things you did in each situation. Take your time: The point is to use all your senses (sounds, sights, smells) to relive the experience.
  4. Conclude each scene by saying, “I did it.”
  5. Repeat the process until you find yourself momentarily flashing back to your successes in your pressure moments.

If you have an interview or presentation coming up, or if you find yourself writing under deadline pressure, remembering a past success will remind you, I’ve done it before. Recalling that, you will probably do it again.

This is an excerpt from Performing Under Pressure.

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About the Book

Co-authored by our own J.P. Pawliw-Fry, Performing Under Pressure will introduce you to the concept of pressure management, offering the latest science on how your brain responds under pressure, and many empirically tested strategies to help you overcome the sabotaging effects of pressure. For this book, we undertook a multiyear study of over twelve thousand people to answer the question: what is it about the top 10 percent of these individuals that helps them handle pressure more effectively and be successful? The book has been featured in featured in Forbes, INC., The Financial Times, Training Magazine and many more, and is a NYT and Amazon bestseller. Order your copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible or Apple ibooks.

About the Author

Dr. JP Pawliw-Fry is one of the founders of IHHP. He co-wrote the NY Times bestseller, Performing Under Pressure, and is sought out by Fortune 500 companies as a keynote speaker. If you want to hear more about how to manage stress and pressure, subscribe to his podcast Last 8% Morning on Apple, Spotify, and Stitcher