What is Visualization?
The concept of visualization is simple. Using the power of imagination, you create visions of the way you want your life to be. It’s like playing a movie in your mind about what you want in life and how you will get there.
You can visualize anything. Things you want to achieve, behavioral changes you would like to make, becoming financially abundant, or getting in shape. There are no limits to your imagination.
It is like having a rehearsal in your mind and preparing yourself for the performance before it happens in your life.
Visualization is very popular in sports. Players often visualize winning the game and how they will score against their opponents. It is a huge part of mental preparation for many athletes and professional sportspeople.
The basic science behind visualization is that your brain finds it difficult to distinguish between what you imagine and what happens in your life. When you visualize, you create new neural connections in your brain, the same way you would if the thing you envisioned had happened to you.
How Not To Do Visualization
Before we delve deeper into the many benefits of visualization, let’s look at how most people visualize the wrong way and how not to visualize.
For example, lying down in front of the TV and imagining that you are prosperous and happy, and expecting everything to magically appear in your life, will have no effect. It just doesn’t work like that.
Visualization without taking action can turn you into nothing more than a daydreamer. It is easy to fall into the trap of merely imagining you have achieved what you wanted. Remember, your brain doesn’t distinguish between your imagination and your reality, which can be counter-productive, especially if the lines blur. You can end up daydreaming instead of visualizing.
Visualization without taking action is like having no wheels on your car. You will get nowhere fast. If you are not backing up your visualizing with taking action in the real world, it is nothing more than daydreaming.
Watching TV and eating fast food all day while visualizing that you are fit and healthy will make you less fit and healthy. Even if your visualization skills are impeccable, you will not get anywhere unless you take proper focused action. After all, being fit and healthy requires real-world physical effort and eating a healthy diet.
If you hope that visualization will work for you and change your life by merely imagining things with repetition, it will not work. However, visualization can be a fantastic tool if used the right way.
Visualization is a tool that can help change your mental processes and reinforce your goals and desires, providing you take direct action in real life.
The Power of Visualization
Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” You can imagine that which has not yet been created, and you also have the power to make it happen.
Everything that anyone ever created was born as an idea or thought in someone’s mind.
Before anything is created, it is born as an idea or thought in someone’s head. Someone imagined an idea or solution in their heads and then made it come true through taking action. In essence, visualization is the default method for all that humans create.
All human creations in life have two conditions. Firstly, the idea must be thought in the first place (no brainer). Secondly, firm action is taken to materialize the creation.
Those with powerful visions can change the world. For example, Henry Ford had the idea that cars should be affordable and available to everyone. Before his vision and subsequent action, cars were only available to the wealthiest handful of people. When we look around us today, we can see that his dream became true.
Another example is the Wright brothers, who built and flew the first aircraft capable of sustained, powered flight in 1903. One of the core aspects of their ability was being great at visualization. They subsequently took action, and their vision became a reality.
Visualization With a Positive Mind-Set
Everyone has a subjective reality map. This reality map dictates the responses you have to things you experience in your life.
For example, imagine two people meeting a dog for the first time. One person is enthusiastic and begins to pet and talk to the dog. The other person is cautious and moves away from the dog.
Maybe the person who was nervous about the dog had a previously bad experience with dogs. Or maybe when they were young, their parents told them to be careful of dogs because they can be dangerous and bite.
As a result of this, they generate a negative image every time they meet a dog and move away as a protective survival mechanism.
Of course, there were numerous situations where they encountered a dog, but their survival was certainly not at risk. The problem was, their negative mental pattern had already been established, which stopped them from having good relationships with dogs.
The Ability to Identify Negative and Limiting Beliefs
The power of visualization gives you the ability to identify negative and limiting mental patterns and inner beliefs.
For example, imagine you go to the bank and check your balance, and you have $10.0000.000 in your bank account. Does it make you feel comfortable or uncomfortable? Even a little uncomfortable? Does the dialogue that accompanies your vision sound something like this:
I couldn’t possibly have that much money. Or, my balance is usually in the red; this is too much. Would you be more comfortable if the amount was lower? Say $10.000?
Maybe you only had a slightly uncomfortable feeling. What’s going on?
Your subjective reality map has acquired negative patterns that prevent you from being comfortable with having too much money.
Most people have acquired these negative patterns in at least some areas of their lives, preventing them from realizing their full potential.
Wanting something but having a negative feeling when visualizing it (even a slightly uncomfortable feeling) means you have a negative thought pattern surrounding your desire. These negative thought patterns need to be fixed before you can bring your desire into reality.
Unless you truly believe deep down inside that you can achieve something; you will not be able to work towards that direction.
Even if you were to achieve it, you would feel uncomfortable about it and lose it as quickly as you found it. Take a look at the statistics for the number of lottery winners who lose their entire fortune almost as fast as they won it in the first place.
A positive belief means having positive representations in your subjective reality map, in other words, having a positive feeling associated with that which you want to manifest into your life.
With time, practice, and dedication, visualization allows you to shift your negative thought patterns and turn them into positive ones.
Remember, when we visualize and picture something in our mind, we activate the same neural pathways in the brain as if we experienced whatever we imagine in real life.
Visualization is an incredibly powerful tool, and if practiced daily, it can help improve all aspects of your life.
One of the best things about using visualization is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. However, there are some things that you can do to improve your experience and get the best results from it.
So if you are new to using visualization, here are some tips to help you get the most out of it:
Use All Senses
Despite its name, visualization is about more than creating mental imagery. The more vivid you can be with your visualizations, the better. Using all your senses, sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch in your visualizing makes the process a more vivid experience.
The more detailed your visualization sessions become, the stronger the effect will be on activating neural pathways.
Don’t Let Distractions Bother You
You may sometimes find your mind wonders off-topic from what you want to visualize. If you find yourself thinking about something else, such as what’s for dinner tonight or a work problem you need to solve, remember, this is entirely normal.
When this happens, try to bring your awareness back into your visualization. Observe that you were distracted and bring your attention back to the exercise.
Feeling relaxed when you practice visualization makes the whole process flow more easily. When you are relaxed, the images, feelings, and scenarios you visualize will come to you easily and more naturally.
Just like everything else in life, the more you practice visualization, the better you will become and the more benefit you will experience from doing it.
Try and make it a priority to set aside at least 10 minutes each day to practice. Consistency is the key, so practice, practice, and then practice some more.
Try to use emotion in your visualization sessions. The feelings you feel will be the same as if you were experiencing the scene you imagine in real life.
Remember, new neural connections form in your brain when you visualize, in the same way they would if it were happening in real life. Adding as much emotion to your visualizations as possible will ensure that you get the most from your visualization sessions instead of drifting off into a daydream.
Have A Sense Of Knowing When Visualizing
Another essential aspect to remember when visualizing is to introduce a sense of expectation to your visualization sessions. The expectation that what you are envisioning will manifest and happen in your life.
To do this, see what you are visualizing to be authentic within your mind. Secondly, make sure you tune into the emotions that go hand-in-hand with whatever you are visualizing.
After you visualize your goals, dreams, and ideal life, don’t just look forward to the next visualization session. Take real-world action to make it happen.
A.J. Adams MAPP: Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visualization
Adam Zeman, Matthew Mackisack, John Onians: The Eye’s Mind – visual imagination, neuroscience and the humanities