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Visualisation: the art of purposeful imagination and daydreaming

Our subconscious does not have a sense of humour, and it accepts what we tell it as true.  If we don’t take control of our subconscious and tell it what it needs to know, it gathers random bits of information from our experiences to make an assumption of a reality and it seeks to prove itself to be true.

We find what we look for

If you believe that the world is full of bad drivers, your subconscious will seek out evidence of this, filter out any good drivers you’ve encountered and cling on to the memories of all the bad drivers you’ve encountered.

If your mind believes that you only have the capability for eating junk food and skipping out on fitness classes, you will behave accordingly.

If your mind finds something frightening or overwhelming, your body will follow its lead, and you might find yourself struggling to breathe, shaking, sweating and feeling numb.

So, the key is to take control of the steering wheel if you will, through the process of visualisation.

Visualisation is the process of using your imagination to experience new behaviours and events therefore affecting how you actually experience the outside world, which will then affect how you perceive the outside world and vice versa.

Our brains don’t know the difference between what we have actually done and what we have imagined. For example, if you have ever gone on a virtual reality roller coaster, you’ll know what I mean. Rationally you know you are sitting in the comfort of your own lounge and not moving, but your eyes and brain respond immediately to the information in front of them and your reactions are as real as if you were sat on the highest and scariest real life roller coaster in the world.

I have been guilty of letting out a scream in an arcade, much to my own amusement and embarrassment because the sensations I felt whilst on a virtual reality roller coaster was real!  My heart pounded and my palms got sweaty not as a result of what was actually happening to me, but as a result of what my brain thought was happening to me.

So, this then is also the case for what we tell ourselves…it’s why NLP (neuro linguistic programming) works, and why people use hypnotherapy to help them to give up smoking, stop over eating or deal with anxiety of situations that frighten them.

The beauty is, we can trick our own brain ourselves, and it’s just a matter of time, energy, patience and consistency to make the changes.  I’ve talked before about controlling our thoughts, and this is that, but at the next level.

By using all five of your senses to imagine as vividly as possible over and over and over again what you would like to happen or how you would like to feel, you are able to re-programme your thought and behaviour patterns – it’s the building block to the work I talked about before regarding establishing positive habits and routines.

By focusing on what you want to happen, you can identify new ways of approaching things and new opportunities.

By creating vivid and compelling (it looks so amazing that you are compelled to go for it!) visions in your mind, you become more positive, solutions focused and resourceful.

Who has the time for this?

Visualisation is a well-respected and used tool, revered by high achievers, elite athletes and peak performers, so it comes pretty highly recommended!

These top performers use visualisation as they know it keeps them focused and able to clearly see their goal, and with the ability to break down a big goal into smaller chunks so they can achieve their goal step by step. It helps them to cultivate the thoughts, emotional states and behaviours needed to get the job done.

What are the benefits of visualisation?

  • By visualising new, exciting and compelling outcomes and lifestyles, your creative subconscious is activated and it starts generating new ideas, options and solutions to achieve your goals.
  • Visualising helps your brain to source resources and solutions to achieve your goals – it goes from trouble shooting problems to planning, preparing and achieving.
  • Visualising helps you consciously and subconsciously look for and find the people, resources and circumstances that will help rather than hinder you.
  • Visualising helps you to create and maintain motivation…if you are genuinely excited about something then you will want to do it, you will be willing and able to put the effort in, in fact, the effort won’t seem like effort, it will be actions and activities that you enjoy because you know that every step you take is part of your journey and part of the process to getting you closer to what you want.

How do you do it?

  • There are several ways to visualise, from simply closing your eyes and imaging…. thinking about what things will look, feel and taste like, and what you might be hearing or saying to yourself.
  • Some athletes use visualisation as a ‘mental rehearsal’, and practice, channelling the feelings into their body through their mind, what they will be thinking, how they will be breathing, what the tone of their voice might be and how they will set about achieving the task at hand.

This is so useful for circumstances ranging from preparing for an event that might be anxiety inducing, or an event that might require patience, or courage, or one that will require you to grit your teeth and soldier on through the uncomfortable bits.

  • You might want to create goal mood boards to help you to visualise and remind you of what you are aiming to achieve.
  • Some people like to make a sequential breakdown of their goals, so they might draw up a written or visual story board which breaks down the goal into manageable chunks
  • Some people like to use affirmations to support their visualisations, if their goal is to remain calm in a difficult situation then they will repeat an affirmation over and over and over until it becomes habit and a natural response to a given circumstance that they are able to remain calm.

So, there you have it, the art and process of visualisation.  Give it a go!