Wholeness Healing Today

Reach Your 2012 Goals – Use Visualization

With the New Year upon us it is also often a time of reassessing our life and setting up goals for self improvement. As we consider where we want to go in 2012 with our self care, improvement and movement forward, an important tool to consider using is visualization.  This can be used in all areas of your life as you set your New Year’s resolutions.  There is scientific evidence that proves it is worth your time to visualize what you want in your life.

Visualization is the act of imagining or forming a visual image of something in your mind.  It is a technique of mentally “seeing” yourself accomplish your goals. Visualization has been used for de-stressing by visualizing yourself in a relaxing place where you let go of all your stress and worries, going to a place of calm and centeredness, promoting a sense of well being. It has also been used for reaching peak performance in athletes.  There is physiological evidence that changes happen in the brain when using visualization.  You can use it for these things or anything you want to accomplish in life.

What we have learned is that researchers have found that the brain cannot tell the difference between a real and an imagined action. Lynne McTaggart addresses this in her book The Intention Experiment. (McTaggart, 2007)Using an electromyography (EMG) she was able to show that the brain does not differentiate between the thought of an action and a real action. According to Chadwick, when performing an activity, certain neural pathways are stimulated and chemicals are produced. When mentally imagining the same activity, the same physiological changes are present. The neural pathways are strengthened with either the real activity or the imagined activity. (Chadwick, 2009)

The power of visualization can be seen in stroke victims. When stroke victims use visualization to imagine moving their affected limb or limbs, the brain activates blood flow to the areas in the brain that has had the blood flow cut off due to the clot in the artery.  The surrounding tissue is then able to be saved, minimizing the tissue damage. Visualization has proven to be very powerful for stroke victims.  (Pillay S. , 2009)

Expert athletes have been using visualization for years and successfully reaching their goals.  You can use these same techniques to reachyour goals.  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.  You want to be experiencing the goal.  Imagine how you feel as you reach the goal and be in it as you accomplish it.

The other guideline is to visualize by giving your brain the information in fragments.  The navigator in your brain for this quest 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 S. , 2009)

As you focus on your 2012 goals, consider what you really want.  Incorporating “imagining” what you want is a good place to start. 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 it 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.

Works Cited

Chadwick, C. (2009, November 15). What-happens-in-the-brain-during-visualization-a168879. Retrieved October 6, 2011, from http://catherine-chadwick.suite101.com.

McTaggart, L. (2007). The Intention Experiment, Using your thoughts to change your life and the world. New York: Free Press.

Pillay, S. (2009, March 3). The science of visualization: maximizing your brain’s potential during the recession. Retrieved October 7, 2011, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com.

Pillay, S. (2009, September 22). Why does visualization not work for you. Retrieved October 6, 2011, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/srinivasan-pillay/why-does-visualization-no_b_294293.html.




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  • 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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