Did you know that your mind cannot tell the difference between an imagined action or a real action? The brain activates the same whether you visualize an act or actually do the act. There is physiological evidence that changes happen in the brain when using visualization. Consider using visualization as another tool in your journey to wholeness.
Visualization is the act of imagining: forming a visual image of something in your mind. It is a technique of mentally “seeing” yourself accomplish your goals. Visualization has been used in many areas. It has been used for de-stressing by visualizing yourself in a relaxing place where you let go of all your stress and worries taking you away to a place of calm and centeredness, promoting a sense of well being. Consider using this technique to take yourself away to a mini vacation in the middle of your stressful day. By giving yourself 20 minutes to visualize being there and “feeling” it with all your senses you will give your body, mind, and spirit the same response as if you were there. This seems like a perfect antidote to the hectic non-stop days we sometimes experience.
Visualization has also been used for reaching peak performance in athletes. Athletes have been using this technique for a long time to improve their performances successfully reaching their goals. The more one visualizes an activity the stronger the neurons get hard-wired in the brain. We can use these same techniques to reach any of our goals. For instance, if you want financial freedom, begin to visualize how you will feel when you accomplish this.
There are some guidelines when you visualize. First visualize in the first person. That means you don’t see yourself reaching your goal, you “feel” yourself reaching the goal as you are in the picture living the experience. You want to be experiencing the goal. Imagine how you feel as you reach the goal and be in it as you accomplish it. Don’t just watch yourself as an observer.
The other guideline is to visualize by giving your brain the information in fragments. The navigator in your brain for this venture is in the posterior parietal cortex. This is the part of the brain that takes information from your short-term memory and develops the plan of action for reaching your goal. So when you visualize you want to give your brain the information in short segments to allow your brain to integrate the details and not get overwhelmed. (Pillay, 2009) Perhaps divide the steps out adding a bit more each day. So in your goal towards financial freedom, visualize you working on the budget and putting the allotted sum into your savings. Feel the feelings as you live this out in your visualization. This would be one step of the visualization giving your brain information so that it could take it in and not be overwhelmed. Add the next step in this process in your next visualization. If you are dealing with an issue that brings up anxiety and fear in you, you might want to start with imaging a place where you can relax and calm yourself. As you visualize what you want, you don’t want to activate the area in the brain of fear and worry. Calmness increases your creativity in mapping out your visualization and allows you to “feel” yourself accomplishing your goal. Do your visualization daily repeating them as you move through your plan of action delineating it and making it more clear. See and feel yourself responding with confidence and joy as you reach your goals. Remember visualization is grounded in science. Use the technique to create the life you want to have.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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