As the old adage goes, if you can see it and believe it, then you can achieve it.
Visualization is the key that many of the world’s best Olympians, celebrities, politicians, and athletes use to reach the pinnacle of their given profession.
Jim Carrey would credit his constant visualization to his success. He would also carry around a check for 10 million dollars to motivate him so he could visualize the check that he would receive in the future. Just a few years later, he received a check for exactly 10 million dollars.
Some people may discredit visualization and say it’s just kids stuff, an old wives tale, or that it’s not actually based on any scientific proof. Unfortunately for them, there’s a ton of proof out there. From NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), quantum mechanics, quantum physics, as well as many other scientific studies that back up how visualization helps us achieve our goals.
Visualization in Mind Science
Nikola Tesla (who many consider the greatest inventor the world has ever known) said: “if you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.”
When we visualize, we’re pro-actively using our brains to change our reality (or energy) of what’s going on in our mind. When we’ve changed our energy to think differently (and imagine differently), we open up a realm of possibilities that can happen to us.
Schrödinger’s cat, the double slit experiment, and countless other studies prove not everything is at it seems, until we deem it so.
NLP states that anything we tell ourselves our brain will go the extra mile to reinforce that idea. For example, if we tell ourselves we’ve had a really bad day, then our brain will automatically go and think of all the reasons why our day was so bad. If we tell ourselves that we had a great day, our brain will do the opposite and think of all the reasons why today was so wonderful.
Seeing is Believing
There’s been recent books written, as well as ancient writings that support the idea, visualizing success will help us achieve our goals. Earl Nightingale wrote, “The Strangest Secret” (Aff.link) which sold over 100 million copies back in the 1950s. He talks about how philosophers, teachers, and prophets would always disagree about many different things, but one of the things they all agreed on is that we become what we think about.
The reason we become what we think about is because our subconscious mind drives our conscious mind to do what it’s been told. For example, if we’ve constantly told ourselves (and believed it) all of our lives, that we’re going to travel the world, then our subconscious mind will do everything in its power to put us in situations that will help us travel the world one day.
If talking and thinking about success is a proven powerful tool to help us achieve our goals, and a picture is worth a thousand words, then imagine what visualization does for us.
Not only does it trick our mind into believing something we’ve never experienced before, but it also records the thought as a memory that’s real.
Does Visualization Really Work?
Visualization will take you from being unsure about something, to having a deeper self-confidence that you can do it. Let’s go over a few reasons why visualization works.
- You believe you’ve already done it before (giving you more confidence)
- Your mind is familiar with what you need to do in order to achieve the desired result
- You will automatically focus more on the desired outcome
When we focus our reality on what we want (and visualize it), then our mind reprograms itself to focus on the important things that will give us the reality we’re looking for. If we constantly think about success, then when we go about our everyday lives our subconscious mind will direct us to make the decision that is in correlation with what we’ve been thinking about and visualizing.
As we practice different visualization exercises, we strengthen our mind’s perception of the reality that can exist for us. When we have a stronger perception of something, it gives us a deeper belief, and when we have a deeper belief in something, the more apt we are to make it happen in our lives. (Related reading: “Effective Manifestation Process and Techniques“)
Why Is It Important to Visualize Your Goals
Visualizing our goals will put us leaps and bounds above the average person who doesn’t practice any visualization techniques. Imagine if you could have already done something in your mind compared to someone who has never done the same thing in their mind or in their life.
I remember when I first learned to do a backflip on a trampoline. I couldn’t achieve a backflip for the life of me, I would get scared halfway through and turn my body 180 degrees in the middle of the backflip (apparently I did something called a flare backflip according to my friend). My friend told me to do the backflip in my mind first and then try it. I took less than 15 seconds to imagine myself bouncing up on the trampoline and doing a backflip, and the first try after visualizing it, I landed it perfectly.
If you’ve never been able to learn how to visualize what you want, then you’re missing out on a very useful tool that can help you achieve heights that you’ve never experienced before in your personal life.
Visualization is the key that opens the door from our mind to reality. If we can imagine something and create that experience first in our mind then it will give us a better idea of how to achieve it in the future.
What’s the first thing someone does before they build a new house? They create a blueprint of what they want it to look like. Anyone with architect skills could look at the blueprint and create the house themselves. Our mind works the same way. When we visualize and create a strong enough memory associated with the blueprint we’ve made for our life, our subconscious mind will go to work and create the blueprint that we’ve visualized.
Two Types of Visualization
There are two different ways to visualize something.
We can visualize the outcome as if we’ve already achieved what we desired. Or we can visualize the process of us going through something. Both are equally important. One will help keep us motivated long enough to see things through (outcome visualization), and the other (process visualization) will give us the confidence we need to pursue our endeavors.
Outcome Visualization – This is when we visualize in our mind the achieved result. If traveling the world is something you truly desire, then imagine yourself already at the beach. Can you feel the wind when you visualize it, can you see the sun beating off the ocean, can you smell the saltiness of the ocean?
The stronger our visualization, the deeper the impact it will have in affecting our lives. If we can tie emotions to our imaginative outcome, the better chances we have at a positive result later on in life.
Process Visualization – Process visualization is where we imagine ourselves going through the process of something before we’ve actually done it. If traveling the world is what we desire, then we could imagine what it would be like boarding onto the plane. We first would imagine ourselves packing our luggage, driving to the airport, and finally going through the terminal and then taking our first steps onto the plane.
Both of these different types of visualizations will trick our mind into thinking it’s something we’ve not only done before, but something we should currently be doing and working towards doing.
Some Visualization Exercises
There are a lot of ways to practice different visualization techniques, but I’m going to let you know what works best for me.
Meditation will put your mind into a more receptive state of suggestion. This goes beyond clearing your mind and thinking of what you want. This is where you take a minimum of 15 minutes (it’s hard to do at first), and clear out any unwanted distractions (like your cellphone). Practice taking in deep breaths to your stomach and push down even deeper past your stomach when you’re able to (later try to do this for an hour or longer). When you do this you will be able to put your brain into a higher state of suggestiveness, and anything you’re able to imagine will be easier programmed into your subconscious mind.
Picture what you want first, and then describe it to yourself. When you find a picture in your mind of what you want, make sure to voice what you feel and see out loud. This will strengthen the emotion that’s attached to the picture. When you speak, make sure you speak with conviction as if you know you’re there and you know what you’re seeing is real.
Creating a visual of something we’ve never seen or experienced before can sometimes be hard to do. If we want to increase the likelihood of us being able to imagine something, then we need to expose ourselves to it as much as possible before we try to visualize it. Reading books about it, or watching a YouTube video, can help us create a visual aid later on when we attempt to use these visualization techniques. (Related reading: What is a Vision Board, and How Does it Work?)
If you’re still not quite sure about visualization, think about your own life. What do you think about most? If you think about watching TV and relaxing when you get home, then that’s probably what you’re doing. If you think about money constantly and how to make more of it, then rest assured your daily life is driven by thinking of more ways you can make money. If you want to change your life, you must first change your thoughts. When we change our thoughts constantly enough then it will reprogram our subconscious mind to help us ease our way to success.
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