On my son’s birthday, I made sure that I spent the afternoon home playing games with him on the computer. One game made me write today—it was bow and arrow. It is a simple game where you have balloons coming on one end and you need to shoot them down with the arrows until they are all down. Meanwhile, you lose an arrow if you miss. It goes in stages where different balloon colors come but yet you need only shoot the red balloons.
I used to play the game long time ago when I was in college and was very good at it. This time, my son was beating me until I really got angry with myself—I needn’t though, it was only a game. My wife then walked into the room and could tell from my face that I was irritated. She did not take long to figure it out because soon it was my turn and I failed miserably. She added more salt because she went laughing uncontrollably. I had to excuse myself and went outside to play with the dogs.
While playing with the dogs, I still was thinking about the bow and arrow game. Why was I losing when I had been very good at it when I was in the university? That’s when I realised what I was doing wrong. Every time I missed a shot, I was reinforcing the idea that I could not make one. And as a result, I kept missing over and over again. This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I was a much better shooter when I was younger than I am today. Granted, I played almost every day back then when I got to my brother’s house during holidays. But I had not mastered the computer quite well then. So computer skill wise, there was no reason why I was better back then than I am today.
So I got to thinking: If what made me better when I was still in college was not computer skills, then it had to be mental. So, the question became: What did I do differently in college that I was not doing now?
Then it hit me. When I was in college, I did not see myself as lacking skills in computer. I was playing the game without focusing on how much skills I had on using the computer. I used to tell myself that I can do it and was doing it. Every time I played, I told myself, I like the game and I was going to win the game.
Here are the steps I took when I was shooting the ‘bow and arrow’ game when I was in college:
1. Made positive affirmations: Before I shot the arrow, I told myself “This is hitting the balloon” and “I am a great shooter!”
2. Visualised it happening: Then, I visualised the arrow hitting the balloon. Not just the part where the arrow hits the balloon but also the path the arrow traveled along the way to the balloon.
3. Took action: Then, I released the arrow! When releasing I kept visualising what I wanted to happen and re-affirmed to myself “This is will certainly hit the balloon!”
4. Acted as if: After the arrow was released, my head would move along in the direction of the arrow. Something like ‘kudongolera’ (following through). This exuded confidence in my shot. I was “acting as if” the shot I took was hitting the balloon.
With these steps fresh in my mind, I went back into the house and joined my son on the computer smiling. And all of a sudden my shots started hitting the balloons. I cannot tell you that I made every shot afterwards (otherwise I would be lying), but I can tell you that I was making most of them.