Research Paper By Lacie Bohanon
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
In this busy world that we find ourselves in many times, we keep our heads down and focus on what is right in front of us. We get stuck where we are and do not dare to look up and see where we could be. We as humans are meant to move, explore, grow and live our lives. Sometimes though we do not know where we are meant to go or what we are meant to be. So how do we get there? How do we get ourselves unstuck and begin to realize our full potential? Is it even possible? One could dare to ask if using the practice of visualization can one unstick themselves from where they currently are and start moving forward to where they desire to be? Is it possible to see where you want to be and actually be able to obtain it? Visualization is a practice that is used by many coaches and individuals to reach their goals.
What is visualization? “Visualisation is the practice of affecting the outside world by changing your thoughts and using imagination to experience new behaviors and new events” (Aspden, 2018). One could venture to suggest that by using the technique of visualization in coaching, then one could create a new journey for themselves. This new journey could then become the client’s new future. By seeing what could be or what one wants to be one could make it into a reality. Once one visualizes what they desire then they can begin to put into motion steps to achieve this. They can visualize positive actions and begin to believe them into reality. Visualization can be one of the first steps in moving someone’s life to where they want it to be. If you can see it you can believe it then you can make it happen. By using this powerful concept a coach can ask powerful questions that assist their client in seeing what they want their future to be. By seeing where one wants their life to be, then one can begin to change their perspective, their energy, and their current thoughts. Once a client sees where they want to be when they can start constructing a plan on how they will get there. They can identify anything that may stand in their way and begin to visualize ways to overcome these barriers. By using visualization a client creates a new reality for themselves that they on the surface did not know existed. Being open to visualization is the first step in a client unsticking themselves from their current reality and moving forward into their life’s purpose.
Now that we have explored what visualization is and what it can do the next question is how does visualization work? “The brain doesn’t make the difference between something that you have done for real or something that you dreamed about or that you have envisioned yourself doing. It’s only you who knows that it hasn’t happened yet. But by visualizing yourself achieving your goal and doing what you want to do, it’s like training the brain to actually really do it, which will most likely lead you to achieve your desired result.” (Dris, 2017). This concept helps to illustrate that we as humans hold ourselves back and we also hold the key to moving ourselves forward. We are the ones that stick ourselves into our current reality and we are also the ones that can change our reality. We all have the ability to unstick ourselves from an unfavorable situation however sometimes when one is stuck they need assistance from a coach to help them to begin to move forward. Knowing that our brain does not possess the ability to know if something has really happened or if we have just dreamed it (Dris, 2017), gives more credibility than if we visualize the reality that we want then we can achieve it. Once a client visualizes their future than with this concept in mind one could assume that the only thing that can hold the client back is the client.
How is visualization put into practice? Visualization can be a very simple tool to use to help one reach their full potential. One only has to take a few simple steps to begin a visualization practice. A coach can help a client to visualize what or where they want to be. The coach needs to assist the client in identifying where they want to be, explore if the client is in a ready state to enter into the practice, help the client visualize where they want to be along with identifying anything that may get in their way, and put this visualization into practice on a regular cadence (Dris, 2017). To be successful in visualization practice, a client needs to have an idea, goal or thought of where they want to be or where they want to move forward from. Sometimes a client is stuck and a coach will be needed to ask questions to help the client discover the direction in which they want to move forward to. This is done by listening, asking questions about a client’s words, emotions, and non-verbal cues. Once a client has identified their goal then visualization can become a great tool to help them get there. The client must be ready to explore their thoughts, hopes, and/or dreams. They must enter the visualization space with an open mind and a willingness to explore where their mind may take them. They must find a way to free their mind so it is opened to new thoughts and or experiences. There are many different ways to prepare oneself for a visualization session. Before the session, one may find it helpful to journal out their thoughts. This may help one clear their mind so that they are ready to explore the potentials that lie in front of them. Meditation is one practice that one can use to help clear your mind and prepare one for a new perspective. With a clear mind, one can be able to dream of where they want to be. Many other tools can be useful to a client. Considering every person is different it may take trial and error to find the right one for you. It is a good practice to try different tools until one finds a tool that works for them. Once they are in a ready state a coach can begin asking questions such as “What does it look to be…” and listening for what the client says or the emotions that are heard from the client. Once they have this in place they can begin to see themselves there. The coach can assist during this journey by listening to what the client is saying. The coach can follow up with questions that assist the client in seeing past their own current views and help the client paint a picture of where they want to be. A coach also needs to pay attention to the non-verbal cues that the client is giving to help the client explore their emotions that the client may or may not know they are feeling. The coach will need to leave space for the client to sit with their emotions during this process. Once the client sees themselves in the place that they want to be they can begin to believe and feel the realness of it. This can give them hope, desire, and the positive energy to start the process to obtain this new vision. With the visualization process, the client paints the full picture of what it is like to be there, what it feels like, and how important it is to them. They also can visualize anything that may stop them or get in their way. By noting these things they can see how they will get past them to achieve the vision they have put in place for themselves. The final step is to repeat the practice so that one continually visualizes where they want to be (Dris, 2017). The repetition will help move oneself to one desired reality.
How has visualization been used in our world today to achieve desired outcomes? “Mental imagery has been a skill that has helped several influential people such as Oprah, Bill Gates, Jack Nicklaus, and Jim Carry achieve success. Jim Carry actually used to park on Mulholland drive every single night before he was famous, and wrote himself a check for $10 million that he kept in his wallet. He gave himself three years to achieve his dream of being an actor, and remarkably, was written a check for Dumb and Dumber equaling that amount three years later” (McNaney, 2015). Jim Carrey spent time and energy visualizing what he wanted his life to be. One can say with a clear focus on what you would like your result to be then you can start taking steps to accomplish this desire. Jim Carrey also gave himself a deadline to achieve this goal, so his visualization was accompanied by other tools to help move him to his goal. When you visualize your result your brain will begin to believe it is a reality and this will allow you to achieve your desired outcome at some level (Dris, 2017). Visualization has also been shown to be effective when searching for your next job or career. The Journal of Consulting Psychology experimented with candidates seeking employment (McNaney, 2015). In this experiment, they had 2 groups that received the same support except for one receiving visualization coaching (Stein, unknown). “Two months after the training, 21 per cent of those in the group who did not use mental imagery found new jobs. But 66 percent of those who used this technique were employed within two months” (Stein, unknown). Visualization may not provide you with every dream you have but it does help to provide the forward movement of energy to reach your goals. Visualization should be combined with other tools such as goal planning, accountability, and understanding the steps needed to be successful to move one towards one goal.
How long must one practice visualization until it becomes a reality? The answer has many different factors that can contribute to the length of time it may take. The distance one must go to make it a reality, the barriers in front of the individual that they must overcome, and even the willingness for one to be open to the new reality. In Phillippa Lally’s paper “How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world” it is concluded that it takes 18 to 254 days to form a habit (Phillippa, 2009). One could conclude from this that one must commit to the visualization practice until they reach the desired reality that they want. There must be a commitment from the client to pursue this practice until they achieve their goal. The time frame can look different to everyone as everyone has different goals and abilities to achieve these goals.
In conclusion, a visualization is a powerful tool that coaches can use to help their clients identify and see where they desire to be. For visualization to be successful, the client will need to identify where they want or desire to go or be, be in the right mind and space to explore the future they want, paint the picture of where they want to be, devise a plan to move past any roadblocks and finally repeat the visualization practice until it becomes a reality. The visualization process helps one to see where or what they can be and this, in turn, helps the mind to see it as reality. Since the mind can not tell the difference between what has happened or what someone has visualized then the only thing that can hold someone back from reaching their desired outcome is oneself. The tool of visualization can be an effective tool in helping clients move through their journey and reach where they want to be.
Aspden, John. (2018, March 27). 7 Visualisation Techniques That Really Work.
Dris, C. (2017, June 24). 4 Simple Steps to Make Visualisation Work for You.
Lally, Phillippa. (2009, July 17). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology.
McNaney, Jenna. (2015, February 12). 5 Benefits We Can Reap From the Power of Visualization Immediately.
Stein, Marky. (unknown). Visualize Interview Success.