A Research Paper By Bettina Salzmann, Life Coach, FRANCE
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. – Buddha
To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act! – Alfred A. Montapert
The word “Visualization” evokes a lot for me. “I’m a visual person”, a lot of people saying this – me too by the way.
As I’m not so good to express myself in words, I like to help me in visualizing what I’m talking about… charts, pictures, scribbles, …
If I must plan things, I need a timeline put on paper to make it clear on what to do when, seeing dependencies, and so on. All becomes much clearer for me if I have something visualized and in addition, I can measure how far I got.
Often, I cannot understand unless I see something drawn on a paper… or in my mind.
Looking further into it, I’m using it when I create a sculpture. I see in my mind what I want to create, I have a vision about it, I see already before on how it should look like, I even sometimes play it through in my head on how to get there, which movements to make to achieve the form I need.
And now, I got into coaching and in one of my classes we made a visualization exercise, a very simple one:
- think about a habit you always wanted to implement but never did
- think about the first reason, why you didn’t do it
- list all other reasons why you didn’t do it
- Now stop here, take several breaths, close the eyes for 5 min and think about nothing
- Keep the eyes closed and now think about how you would feel if you would have achieved what you wanted to implement all the time
- Let your mind and body enjoy this achievement and how it feels. Let go, take everything in, recognize how your environment looks like when you achieved it, where are you (which location when you achieved it, which colors do you see, what do you feel, what do you smell, what emotions are coming up, are you alone or with other people?
- Have a look at the whole picture you are seeing – look at it with all your 8 senses
- Now open slowly your eyes and share or document for yourself what happened.
- What emotions came up, what did you discover in addition to what you already knew before? or something you already knew but never considered related to this objective?
- Are you alone or depending on anyone or anything which you saw which is not in place today?
- Keep this feeling, this emotion in mind… remember it
After this exercise, I was very surprised about the discovery I made myself.
I wanted to do more sports but always pretended that I’m not doing it because I have no time. Getting into this visualization of how it feels when I’m doing it, I saw myself on a bicycle within the woods, surrounded by fresh air. And I discovered that one of the main inhibitors for doing more sport, besides not freeing up time, was that we are living in the middle of Paris. Don’t get me wrong, living in Paris is truly great, but not for outdoor sports. It is just not the same as at the country site. So I discovered with this exercise, that I am much more willing to free up time for outdoor sports when I’m at the country site in a very nice environment and with a lot of fresh air. You can now say, you should have known this before, yes and no, I always blame that I don’t get enough fresh air and when I had more time, I did a lot of sport or dancing indoor, but I must admit, that I am much more willing to run or bike at a country site. So, what do I learn from it, or how can I use this info? that’s up to you.
This visualization exercise and the awareness on how much I already use myself visualization triggered me to understand more about what type of visualization methods exist, for what they are used, and how they could be used as well in life and performance coaching.
In the next paragraphs, you will find definitions of visualization, the main concept visualization is based on and the most common items to practice virtualization.
You will see, we all are confronted with visualization or already using it in one or another way.
Plenty of people are using visualization (without being aware of it) to imagine all the negative things which could happen, instead of the opposite. Why is this happening?
The following Story came to my mind:
The Story of the 2 Wolves (1)
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
What Is the Visualization Definition?
There are various kinds of Visualizations(2) as defined by Wikipedia: graphics, data, information, music, and mental image.
In this paper, I looked into “mental image”, i.e. Creative Visualization, Guided Imagery, Visualization Meditation.
For example, I am copying here the definition of creative visualization
“Creative visualization(3) is the cognitive process of purposefully generating visual mental imagery, with eyes open or closed, simulating or recreating visual perception, to maintain, inspect, and transform those images, consequently modifying their associated emotions or feelings, with intent to experience a subsequent beneficial physiological, psychological, or social effect, such as expediting the healing of wounds to the body, minimizing physical pain, alleviating psychological pain including anxiety, sadness, and low mood, improving self-esteem or self-confidence, and enhancing the capacity to cope when interacting with others.
The brain is capable of creating other types of mental imagery, in addition to visual images, simulating or recreating perceptual experience across all sensory modalities, including auditory imagery of sounds, gustatory imagery of tastes, olfactory imagery of smells, motor imagery of movements, and haptic imagery of touch, incorporating texture, temperature, and pressure*.
*This is also called the 8 senses.
In addition, Guided imagery (4), is based on the above but supported by a trained practitioner, who helps the person to create mental images to help to change his subconscious mind.
Visualization Meditation (5) is a combination of visualization and mediation.
Following is the concept on which visualization is based on (6/7/8):
- Our behaviors, reactions, and well-being are based on our values and beliefs
- Some of our beliefs may be “limiting beliefs”
- Those beliefs are hardcoded in our subconscious mind and were generated throughout our life
- Our subconscious mind takes the orders “you” give to it, based on what your conscious mind believes and accepts as truth
- Your conscious mind is logical, a thinking entity, and perceives the outside world (the top of the iceberg) – BUT it can be overvoted by the unconscious mind.
- Therefore, if you change your limiting beliefs, i.e., reprogram your beliefs located in the unconscious mind, you create the base to allow your unconscious mind to support yourself to change the way you see life and therefore react differently and allow you to move forward and reach your goals
- To reach your subconscious mind you use imagination and feeling to communicate(here is where visualization can come into play)
- You can change your experience of life by changing what you think & believe – and with this changing your subconscious mind.
- The “Subconscious mind can’t distinguish between what is real or only imagined”, so you can even practice in your mind without ever doing the actions.
Reading through the definitions and many articles and applications, there are several common items on how visualization is practiced, which I would like to highlight here (9 – 16):
- Most people use already visualization, but in the opposite sense, they visualize the worst cases happen – so why not visualize positive outcomes?
- Do not focus on what you don’t want, but instead on what you want
- It’s not what happens to you that counts but rather how you perceive that experience, or in other words, the meaning you give to it.
- You need to have a Vision
- Focus on “realistic goals”, focus on the best you can do(you can’t become the famous actor on day 1, but you can at your level, belief in your capacities, and do the best you can).
- Give yourself time, create a quiet environment when visualizing, use meditation methods to focus only on you
- You need to be as detailed as you can about what you want to achieve
- Align your goals with your values, understand “why” you want to achieve this goal
- Picture yourself having achieved the goal
- You need to consider all 8senses
- You need to get into the emotional part of it – you need to “live/feel” your imagination
- If you only wish or hope something to happen, but do not feel and assume it, it will not work.
- Visualize the skills you need to achieve your goal,
- It’s not only Skillset change you need to achieve, but also a mindset change
- Create a Vision board, this helps you to remember your goal, how it looks and feels like, this then can be something you could look at each day or each month
- You need to be part of your visualization in the present form, i.e. it’s your future therefore your first-person perspective. It is you acting, feeling, doing and like this, the whole process gets more real and achievable
- You need to visualize the situation again and again and create more and more details
- You need to believe in it, and hard work to get to what you want remains necessary
- As more, you are clear about where you want to be as more your actions will follow
- Visualizing the path to your vision, visualize the steps you need to take, break it down into smaller steps, run a visualization for each of them, and prepare yourself on possible roadblocks in your way and how you can overcome them
Visualization (17/18) consists of different steps – some sources tell you 5, 10, whatever number, the principle is based on the fact that you generate an image, that you maintain it, that you inspect it and that you transform it, and that you have a grid and preserve, and this in a repeating and more and more detailed way using all your 8 senses.
And to close this paper, here are some examples for which visualization is used.
Training and Stressmgmt tool: High sports performers, high achievers all use visualization
- Defining Goals
- The process to get to goals Achieving goals (defining goal, process to get to the goal)
- Questions like, “What would you do if you have enough money? What would you feel if you could …?
- Visualization to change your limiting beliefs – ICA: flipit methods
Guided Imagery to heal
Two Wolves + Two Wolves-Cherokee
thriveglobal.com and https://www.forbes.com/
What is the law of attraction
New To Visualization? Here Are 5 Steps To Get You Started