Émile Coué (1857-1926) was a French pharmacist who studied the role of the mind in healing. I believe his work is applicable beyond medicine. His great insight is that the will is powerless against the imagination.
"I want it" is an expression of the will. "I can't have it" is an expression of the imagination.
Coué used an example first given by Blaise Pascal. Walking on a foot-wide plank that's lying on the ground is easy. But what if it's placed high above the street connecting two skyscrapers?
The imagination would prevent most of us from attempting it. The task is easy, but the mind makes it more challenging than walking the plank on the ground.
Telling funny jokes in a pub to friends is easy, but not from stage to a paying audience.
An easy putt in an early round of an obscure tournament becomes pressure-filled when the Open Championship is on the line.
The mind imagines the consequences of a mistake, which creates a greater likelihood of making it. Even when the task is easy, the imagined negative outcome will prevail.
Coué doesn't want us to use willpower. The will might say, "I am determined to overcome this difficulty." And then you're thinking about the difficulty. Coué would suggest, "Why not imagine that it's easy?"
You can do this if you imagine the situation is in your comfort zone.
Yes. The place many a motivational speaker has told you to leave.
But I love my comfort zone!
Your comfort zone is where you're most at ease and confident.
When you're confident, things come easy. When things come easy, you accomplish more. And in accomplishment, you succeed.
Your comfort zone is your "confidence zone." It's not in leaving your comfort zone that you grow, but in expanding it.
When you're confident, you don't need willpower. You just get things done, often without even thinking. You're on autopilot.
In a challenging situation, think of the easiest thing about it, the part you're most confident in addressing based on your experience and proven abilities. Imagine success coming effortlessly.
I suspect the most successful people are the most confident when handling a crisis. Not because they have the most determination or ability. It's because they don't let the situation overwhelm them. They will walk on the plank 100m in the air because they know it's just as easy as if it were on the ground. Nothing's all that different. If I can easily do one, I can do the other.
The successful feel comfortable wherever they are. They have expanded "confidence zones." Others might think they're skating through life effortlessly. In a way, they are. But it's a way we can all emulate.
Supplant negative thoughts with positive imagery. Play to your strengths to make things as easy as possible. Don't worry about things going wrong, because they won't if you just do what you already know what to do.
Coué is most famous for is work in auto-suggestion. He'd have patients say to themselves "Every day and in every way, I am getting better and better." The affirmation wasn't a cure-all, but could assist the physical healing process.
If you affirm "Tomorrow I will be rich," or "Tomorrow I'll be cured of this sickness," then you won't believe it. It is hard for you to imagine. But you can easily believe you can make daily progress toward your goal.
It doesn't matter what you want to be improved: you can confidently affirm daily progress.
If you can believe you're progressing, then you are expanding your confidence zone.
Confidence builds confidence. Success breeds success.
As your confidence zone expands, the negative thoughts begin to disappear as the imagination sees only good outcomes.