Visualization: Master Tool to Create Change
One of my favorite quotes is, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” (Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich)
This was proven to be true for me when I began my recovery from an autoimmune condition.
I remember years ago, though walking was extremely difficult, all I wanted to do was jog around a little lake in Minnesota. Yep, I didn’t want to just to walk, I wanted to jog! I wasn’t going to let my physical limitations get in my way of what I wanted – to regain my health and that included jogging around that lake. Even though the actual movement of jogging was not yet possible, there was something that was possible – visualization.
So I began visualizing myself jogging, and my visualizations were extremely detailed.
I felt the warm wind on my face and my hair hitting my forehead and the back of my neck as I progressed along the dirt path. In my mind’s eye, I saw and heard the geese on the lake. I even saw all the different people strolling along the path as I passed them. I could even hear their conversations.
As I continued my virtual jog I felt my body heat up and start to sweat. My heart rate and breathing accelerated. Each time I replayed this scenario in my mind I became more and more efficient with the details. The images of my imagined virtual reality became sharper and more importantly the feeling became more real.
I could feel it! I believed it! I was jogging!
So there was no doubt that if I believed in every cell of my body I was “actually” jogging in my mind, then by the end of the summer, I would jog around that lake for real! And guess what, I achieved that goal, and so much more! In less than 3 months I went from barely walking to a light jog!
So let’s take moment and briefly discuss visualization.
Visualization, also known as mental imagery, is a technique in which you use your imagination to envision specific things that you would like in your life experience. In other words, focusing on the outcome and not the process. This is so important because it is the key concept of whether you will achieve your goal or not.
For example, if I only focused on my current health condition then I would be focusing on the illness and recovery and NOT already living in optimal health. This is the difference between focusing on the process and the result respectfully. Because I focused on the result, the act of jogging, allowed me to perceive that it was already achieved before it actually manifested into physical reality. Thus, I was no longer in a sick body, but rather in a healthy one. And this was not only a major factor in my recovery, but it was also a game changer!
Putting Visualization Into Action
Whether we are aware of it or not, we all know how to visualize. In fact, many of us do it on a daily basis. The problem, however, lies in the fact that too often we are using this ability in a fashion that squashes our dreams, rather than building them up and placing them on a shelf within our reach. Though sometimes we may have to reach high, who couldn’t use a little extra stretching – especially when it comes to our imagination!
Though I firmly believe that changing your health status is indeed possible using visualization, I completely understand how this may be a bit hard for your imagination to, well, imagine it. At least at first. So, let’s switch gears and practice with something that is a bit easier, at least in the beginning.
Almost everyone I know has some sort of regret in their life. Something that they always wanted to do but for whatever reason was unable to obtain it. Perhaps money was a reason, family issues, or just ill-timing. Then as time goes by we are left with the feeling of “what could have been.” And that’s not a satisfying feeling at all, is it?
Perhaps you are not satisfied with your job and constantly think, “If I could just do it all again I would have become a _____.” Of course, this can apply to so many things so why not you fill in the blank. What would have you become?
But here’s my question to you, what is holding you back from moving in a different direction right now? Maybe you have always dreamed about running a marathon but the dream stops there because, after all, you are simply not “a runner”. Maybe you have always wanted to host a dinner party but whenever the urge strikes you remind yourself that you are no Martha Stewart, and more than that, you think, why would anyone want to spend an evening at my house? So do get where I am going with this? These are examples of using your imagination by visualizing something negative. And keep in mind nothing at all has even happened yet. Or has it? After all, thanks to your the negative use of your imagination, it is likely that you won’t even try to have that dinner party or run that marathon.
Think about it. What could have happened if you chose to use your imagination in a positive way? Perhaps winning that marathon or throwing that best party ever? It is your imagination after all and it is you doing the visualizing. Why not imagine the best outcome?
Well, of course, nothing simply appears out of thin air. Everything that is around us began as a thought and then developed into an idea. From there, it was the power of belief that brought it into being.
Let me ask you. What do the Wright Brothers, Mohammed Ali and Steve Jobs all have in common?
They all had a vision before the manifestation. They all imagined the best possible outcomes. They were all believers!
The Wright Brothers were told that flying was impossible, Mohammed Ali believed that he was “The Greatest,” and Steve Jobs…well that just goes without saying.
Too often we push aside our personal needs and desires because when we imagine how events will play out, we give them a negative slant. Just in case it doesn’t turn out the way we wanted it, right? And is this really a good idea? Because it’s no wonder we struggle to accomplish our goals whether the goals involve being physically active, obtaining material things or status, or are health–related.
So why do we tend to put that negative spin within our own imagination? The answer is simple and one that you might not expect – Expectations.
But wait! Aren’t beliefs really expectations?
Not exactly, let me explain.
There is a subtle difference between Beliefs and Expectations. With true belief you allow yourself to be open to all of the possibilities that can turn your desire into a reality. It’s going to be based on positive thinking… positive dreaming. Whereas when it comes to expectations, we have the tendency to shut down all possibilities except one that may or may not get us to our desired outcome. So we allow the negative thinking, you know, just in case things don’t work out as planned.
We have all experienced disappointment stemming from someone, something, someplace, or some idea that has not lived up to our expectations. If there is anything that can quickly drag us down, it is expectations. And for the most part, we know this, yet we simply can’t help but continue to create mental pictures of one specific outcome.
But if we can let go of expectations and instead allow ourselves to simply flow with life, amazing opportunities will begin to open up and lead us toward our desired outcomes. How often have you said something like, “I would never have thought in a thousand years that this could happen!”
And this couldn’t have been truer for me. When I stopped expecting the negative things that I assumed could happen, like I’d never recover my health because so many people told me it was impossible, that’s when I couldn’t believe what came to be! Well, let me rephrase that… that’s what made me a believer in the power of our of mind.
The Desire to Believe in Yourself
It takes time to bring your visualization to the next level and with anything, the more you practice the easier it will become. So, it’s best to set aside a bit of time to practice this technique every day until you believe everything you can imagine is possible – and for it to be possible, you must believe and see it 100%!
After all, if you want to take control of your life, you must become your greatest fan!
When I was on the journey to regain my health, my optimal goal was a full recovery. However, in order to get there, I had many mini goals to accomplish along the road. Much like rest stops along the highway. And each mini goal that was achieved started to create positive momentum that grew stronger and stronger. And with enough positive momentum, there will be no stopping you!
Okay, now it’s your turn:
- Imagine one aspect of your life that you are ready to change. Perhaps you are ready to lose 25 pounds, tone your muscles, and/or increase your endurance. Maybe you desire to be more flexible and learn a dance. Perhaps your dream is to live in Costa Rica selling custom-made seashell jewelry while walking along the beach. Whatever it may be for you, the key is, see it in detail! The more you visualize, the more detail you will be able to create. You want to feel it, and believe it in your heart!
- It’s best to confirm your visualizations in a journal. Think of it as a bridge from your mind’s imagination to the first step of a physical manifestation. Write down everything that you see and feel as you accomplish your goal within your mind.
- Next, write down any doubts that you may have no matter what they are, and then ask yourself these questions about those doubts.
- Do these doubts come from other people in your life, or do they come from your own mind? Spend some time on this because it is amazing how some of your doubts and fears took root deep within your psyche years ago, in some cases decades ago…and do they still make sense today?
- If these doubts are holding you back, why do you think you have allowed them to do this? What are you really afraid of?
Once I had my list of doubts, I couldn’t believe some of the reasons I used for not allowing myself to achieve my goals. Whether health-related, career-related, sports-related, it really doesn’t matter. Especially the ones that were based on other people’s fears. So I decided to turn that doubt into a dare! Do you remember when you were a kid and some dared you to do something – or even double dared you? Well notwithstanding something that could seriously endanger you or some else, of course, didn’t you usually do the dare?
Well, guess what? The “Double Dare Technique” is alive and well with adults of any age. So why not dare yourself to stop imagining the worse outcome in lieu of the BEST outcome? And if anything doesn’t it just feel better? Isn’t uplifting to just see the best outcome in your mind rather than the worse possible thing that could happen? I mean come on! Don’t we all love happy endings in a movie? Well here is your chance to create and write your own script of you!
So why not allow yourself to believe? Why must we live by mottos such as “Hope for the best but expect the worst”?
And this brings you to the last part of this activity.
- Write down 5 reasons why you should never put your faith into phrases such as that one, “Hope for the best but expect the worse”. And then apply it to your specific goal. How could that phrase sabotage your chances for success?
Bottom line – When you begin to flow with life, and not force it and allow your imagination and your visualizations to soar, that’s when the magic begins to happen!
Read more about Visualization – The Science Behind The Power Of The Mind: Developing Skills Via Visualization