“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.”Bo Bennett
The New Year is a time when many of us reflect, regroup, and set goals and intentions. We envision where we’d like to be and what we’d like to improve, setting a course for the coming days, weeks and months. This can be a wonderful practice and believe it or not, when you picture what’s ahead, you’re using one of the most powerful tools available to humankind—a superpower we all have. More on this in a moment.
And your mind is extraordinarily powerful in this process. Think about what a profound effect your mind can have on how you feel. Whether it’s dreaming at night, anticipating something exciting, or dreading something stressful–your thoughts are directly tied to your emotions.
Thankfully you have more control over your thought processes than you might realize. Specifically, using your imagination to visualize can give you a much-needed break (and move you toward the goals you’re setting this new year—which we’ll explore in Part 2).
Visualizing something in your imagination has the power to take you to another time or place entirely. In fact, many elite athletes and performers use visualization techniques to take themselves through runs, games, concerts, creating their ideal performance and rehearsing the moves in their minds. This can actually sharpen skills in similar, if not equal, ways to if they had actually been physically practicing.
Likewise, your brain doesn’t “know” the difference between what it’s processing as a memory or visualization, and what’s really happening (or it at least it doesn’t seem to differentiate when it comes to the positive or negative impact on your mood).
From the perspective of stress-oriented thinking, you can feel tense, overwhelmed and experience the same physiological response as if whatever you’re imagining is actually happening now.
By the same token, this applies to
Below, I walk you through one of my favorite relaxation exercises – “The Safe Place Visualization.” I use this technique with many of my clients in therapy (and on my own) and it has been incredibly effective at releasing stress, anxiety, and difficult emotions.
The basic idea is to use your imagination–your “mind’s eye”–to create a soothing, calming, relaxing “vacation” for yourself. Just like any skill, the more you use this one, the better you’ll get at it, and the better your results. So visualize as often as you like!
Safe Place Visualization
Finally, some things to consider:
What are your thoughts? Do you use visualization in your own unique ways? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comments below.
In Part 2, you’ll get even more detailed pointers on how to best utilize your visualization superpowers to create and achieve goals & intentions.
If you liked this blog, you’ll love my new eBook: The Stress Solution for High Achievers, Perfectionists