The hardest part about doing a thing, getting a thing, or becoming some “thing” – whether it is something that we need or something we desire (want) is belief.
For instance, we may need to get a new job because we need to make more money, or we may desire a new job because there are things about our current position we don’t like. Maybe we consider it boring and want something more challenging, stimulating.
Of all the “New Age” techniques for manifesting our goals (making them “real”), creative visualization is perhaps the best known – unfortunately it is perhaps also the most misunderstood.
Misunderstanding the how and why visualization works often results in failure. It is easy to become disillusioned about the power of visualization when, no matter how often or hard we concentrate on visualizing the outcome we desire it just doesn’t happen.
Many Americans first became aware of “visualization” as a technique when the Russians used the technique as central to training Olympic athletes – with great success. Since that time, the idea of visualization as a tool to live a better life has become practically a mainstream assumption within American culture.
Visualize what we need/want and it will come.
And then it doesn’t – and all too often, rather than educate ourselves as to why it may not be working – we just give up and settle living lives in which we do not manifest our greatest potential(s).
To this day most of the best athletes employ creative visualization as a central part of their training program. For those of us who like numbers, early Russian studies indicated that those who spent 25% of their time engaging in physical training and 75% of their time mentally training had more success than those who spent 100% of their time physically training. In our everyday world, what that would look like to someone who wanted to improve their ability to say run a mile more quickly, and normally physically trained one hour a day 4 days a week would have more success if they spent one of those hours visualizing running their mile more quickly.
However, it is important to note that the Russians had their athletes engage in a very disciplined program. The Russian criteria for this “mental rehearsal” included:
- Very detailed visualizations
- Visualization exercise(s) performed frequently and consistently
This means that while “daydreaming” may certainly be somewhat helpful when it comes to manifesting a goal or desire – following a consistent schedule and setting aside regularly scheduled times to practice creative visualization will most usually provide better results.
Creative visualization must be detailed
A common complaint of people wishing to employ creative visualization is that they can’t “see” – or create a clear enough picture. They close their eyes and maybe all they see are colors, or even just a “blank screen.” They are having trouble visualizing. This is where detail comes into play. So far we’ve been concentrating on visualizing (“seeing”) as it relates to improving athletic performance; however, creative visualization is just as powerful technique for achieving any goal or desire. For example, you have decided to pursue finding another job.
You’ve set a scheduled time to visualize (say right before getting out of bed in the morning and right before going to sleep at night – both great times to visualize.) You close your eyes and start thinking that you want to get a picture of your new job – and get nothing. The more you strain to “see”, the blanker your mental screen gets. Now is a great time to remember that you have five senses – not just one.
If you can’t see your new job – can you hear it? Imagine a conversation you may have with a colleague or superior. A very detailed conversation where you are expressing yourself to others with extreme confidence and competence. Your listener, in turn, responds as you would wish them to in the most optimal circumstances you can imagine.
Can you smell your new job? Perhaps your desk is near the coffee maker. Now the conversation you have imagined has smell attached to it. Can you touch your new job? Maybe you can feel yourself standing by your desk with a cup of coffee in your hand having that successful conversation with your colleagues.
Now that you can hear and touch your visualization, you try to imagine you can see yourself at your new job, but – darn – all you can see is the color red. Ask yourself, what is red about my new job? And you realize that it is the tie or sweater a colleague you are speaking with is wearing. Before you know it you can see, hear, and touch your new job – exactly as you desire it to be.
Creative visualization must be practiced consistently
Remember that creative visualization is often referred to as a “mental rehearsal”. Those in theatre – actors, directors, and technical staff – have an intimate understanding of the importance of rehearsing – and they rehearse often. Nor do they leave rehearsing to chance, there is a formal schedule put into place. At first rehearsals are scheduled quite frequently. In these first rehearsals performances are usually pretty choppy. People forget their lines; actors have not completely embraced their characters. Props are missing.
But, with frequent rehearsal, performances begin to improve. Eventually, this scheduled, consistent, and frequent rehearsal results in performances where the actors forget they are on stage and become the play. This is an excellent example of the power of creative visualization when it is performed in a scheduled, consistent, and frequent manner.
Watch this video to learn visualization techniques
The role of belief in creative visualization
“To be it, you must believe it.” This statement is true on many levels.
First, psychologists report the power of something they term “self fulfilling prophesy.” The basic premise is that whatever one believes about themselves or their circumstances – whether positive or negative – have a powerful impact on their behavior, thereby quite often causing this belief to become true.
For example, if a student believes they will flunk a test, it is likely that their study habits will be negatively impacted, reducing the amount of material they remember. In addition, the thought that they will flunk the test causes them to become anxious and this high level of anxiety negatively impacts brain function. The result? At the very least that student does not perform to their true potential on the test and it is quite possible that the student will actually flunk their test.
The theory of self fulfilling prophesies makes a lot of sense when you consider the strong relationship between an individual’s level of self confidence and the beliefs they have about themselves. If a person has no confidence in their ability to pass a test it follows that they have no faith that engaging in behaviors that support passing the test will be effective. For example, they may not study as often or as long as they need to – or not take advantage of working with a study group.
However, visualization techniques can change a negative self fulfilling prophesy into a positive self fulfilling prophesy. For instance, frequently, consistently, and in a detailed manner visualizing one’s self actually taking the test successfully is very powerful. For one, the level of self confidence is improved. Those who feel confident are not focused on perfection, they are focused on realizing their full potential. In this case it is passing the test – not necessarily getting the highest grade in the glass.
An example of a specific visualization for passing a test is, as one is studying, to visualize placing information into a file folder and placing that file folder in a file drawer. When taking the test and “stumped” for an answer, simply close your eyes, visualize the file drawer, open it, and pull out the folder with the correct answer. This sounds silly – but there is science behind it. This visualization helps to create new neural pathways and, when the visualization is used when trying to come up with the right answer or information needed to be able to solve a problem, the pathways to that specific information needed are engaged. In other words, a “short cut” to the information needed to pass the test is created in the brain.
The Role of Quantum Physics and Visualization
Perhaps the most powerful of visualization techniques are those of quantum jumping. These techniques involve accessing one’s “twin” or doppelganger selves existing in an alternate universe (reality) who is already “doing the thing or getting the thing” we desire our visualization practices to manifest (make real) in our lives.
Quantum physics demonstrate properties of matter (which is actually waves) to include the fact that the universe splits into alternate realities whenever one or more outcome is possible. For instance, this means if there is a you who believes they will have difficulty passing tests or getting the job they want, there is another you who takes tests successfully and snags positions they find meaningful, fulfilling, and lucrative.