Creative Visualization Techniques
Creative visualization is a tool that helps us take positive action. Through the process of visualizing we can define clear goals that provide direction in life. When a clear picture is created we get a better idea of how to go about reaching those goals.
Whether we do it on a conscious level or not we’re constantly engaged in this process. However, if we are doing this unconsciously, then chances are that we are living in a reactive way. I’ll explain the difference between using the imagination in a proactive way and allowing circumstances to cause us to be reactive.
Our internal dialogue can be more than the result of life experience and the decisions we make. Changing the dialogue, through imagery, allows us to create new experiences.
While many people live in a reactionary way, there are others who make the decision to live utilizing their imagination. What this essentially means is that rather than behaving in an expected way (reactionary), you live in a creative way (imagination).
To illustrate the difference between reactive and creative living, here is a brief example:
You’re running late to work. Unfortunately your alarm clock didn’t go off in time, so you rush to get your clothes ready. There’s not enough time for a full breakfast and you have trouble finding something quick to eat. As you rush out the door you realized you forgot your cell phone. Now that you’re finally on your way to work it seems that you get stuck behind every slow moving vehicle on the road.
Reactive: More than likely the reactive individual is going to be frustrated. They might begin an internal dialogue admonishing themselves for their bad habits. They certainly won’t be in a good mood on there way to work and their day will get off to a rough start.
Imaginative: Rather than becoming frustrated, the imaginative person takes a few moments to breath and assess the situation. The internal talk will be much different. It’s more likely that they will focus on the present and make a conscious decision on how best to handle the situation. Instead of berating themselves, they will quickly create a mental plan and follow through with it.
We have all been in this situation and probably have experience acting both reactive and proactive. The proactive person uses their imagination to achieve desired results, while the reactive person goes through the motions and hopes for the best.
Would you agree that being proactive and imaginative is a much healthier choice? Fortunately this is a skill that can be developed.
Imagery and language coincide to create our internal dialogue. Although much of what goes through the mind is based on past experience, it’s possible to train our imagination to change this internal dialogue. If we are not getting the results we want, then we have to change the way we are viewing the world.
Especially in times of challenging circumstances, it’s helpful to create a positive internal vision
Try this exercise to develop inner peace:
We all have challenges that frustrate us at times. Pick one of these challenges and recall how it makes you feel. While you imagine this scene take a quick inventory of your emotions. Also notice if your breathing changes and if your muscles are tense.
Now take the same scene and create the intention to relax. Imagine how it would feel to remain calm and collected in this situation. Notice how your breathing remains even and smooth. Your thinking remains clear – unclouded by emotion. Doesn’t it feel much better to take control, rather than simply reacting?
We all have the ability to take responsibility in these moments of stress. You can practice this exercise to gain control over your anger or to simply remain calm in a tough situation.
This exercise can be useful to create positive associations wherever you need them. Whether it’s relationship troubles or work challenges, taking the time to visualize can help you move towards a positive outcome.
Modeling yourself after successful people is a natural way to enhance your positive qualities.
If you’re fortunate enough to be around good role models this becomes a simple process. If you don’t have this opportunity you’ll soon know how to learn from a good mentor, even if you cannot work with them directly.
This article will focus on how to use creative visualization to develop the character of a successful individual.
The reason I bring up character development is because of its relevance to success. It was previously mentioned that all of our actions and decisions come from ingrained mental scripts. To achieve success it’s necessary to have scripts that align with your goals. Through the process of character development and modeling successful people, your actions will align with your goals; taking you naturally down your chosen path.
Modeling success can be achieved by using a clearly defined system. Please consider these helpful guidelines and make them your own. Not everyone’s process will look the same, but using these proven methods will create a solid foundation for your system.
Study those individuals who possess the qualities that inspire you.
When I say study – that’s precisely what I mean. It’s not enough to simply watch an interview or two and think that you know someone. Most successful people want to share their success. It’s highly probably that they have written extensively on what they did to achieve their goals.
Seek out books or lectures that your role model has created. Become familiar with their work so that you can better understand how they think. When you understand them intimately, then you’ll find that you can build upon their knowledge. Great men have used this method and the process was described succinctly when Sir Isaac Newton said:
“If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Make yourself into a visionary by standing on the shoulders of leaders in your field. When you read the biographies of successful people you will begin to see the patterns involved with success. Particular qualities and values will become apparent as you study success. Take note of these qualities and consider which of them you’d like to bring into your life.
Create a list of those qualities that you’d like to cultivate
By making a list of positive qualities you’ll get a clear picture of what to focus on. Take your time to really consider each quality and how the individual displays it. When someone speaks do they have a way of conveying their good-natured spirit? Maybe their selflessness shines through in their actions. Consider the ways that you might act similarly. How do you think you’d feel when this becomes a part of your character?
Once you have a good idea of how a certain quality feels, mentally rehearse what this looks like to you. There are two parts that should come together in your visualizations – you must see yourself act a particular way and also feel that event as if it’s your normal way of being. When you visualize yourself in these mental scenes consider every detail precisely – imagine what you would think and feel, as well as the actions you will take.
By rehearsing these details mentally you’ll have a very good idea of your future actions. It’s not just about thinking or planning what you’ll do however. Because these traits will become a part of your character you will act in the desired way automatically. You won’t have to consider your words or actions – they will just flow naturally from the core of your being.
I would recommend taking one quality at a time and practicing with it until you’re comfortable. Drastic change doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t get frustrated if this is challenging. If you feel the need to rush, maybe you can try to visualize being patient and relaxed. These are important qualities for overcoming difficulties after all.
Refine your visualization exercise
When you create a mental scene it might not play out exactly how you intended. Your mind already has preconditioned ways of thinking. When you imagine something, it will probably coincide with what you think is possible, not necessarily with what you want.
It’s important to continuously practice so that you refine the mental picture to coincide with your intended goal. Use visualization on a daily basis. Each time you rehearse your mental scene you’ll learn something new. You’ll recognize what mistakes to avoid while also integrating appropriate mental scripts.
Even though you may need to refine your visualization practice don’t rush to change things too often. You should maintain persistence of vision so you have time to build the proper habits. If you change your goals constantly then you won’t be able to actualize any of them. Imagine your goal and patiently allow yourself to make it happen. By pursuing a goal with single-minded purpose you will attain focus and be able to overcome obstacles with greater ease.
Trust that your success is inevitable
There is an element of faith that’s required for this process. When you engage your imagination, you begin to think on a different level. You actually stop thinking with your reactive mind and you engage higher cognitive processes. Therefore, when you start using creative visualization you have to trust that your goals will become actualized. If you continue to use your old method of thinking, then you’ll get the same old results.
Letting go of the “old you” is part of this process of creation. By focusing on your goal and continuously imagining it as if it’s already present you are moving towards making it real.
When you act as if you cannot fail, then you will fully commit to every action. Trusting that your goals will be realized allows you to think decisevely. Decisive action is an important step for making big change in your life. Visualization will allow you to make these steps and realize these changes through a very natural process.
Creating detailed mental imagery
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “I know it like the back of my hand”; but how well can you accurately describe your hands? Can you close you eyes and maintain a clear image of your hands in your mind?
Let’s see how much you actually know about your hands.
Hands should be one of the most recognizable objects in our visual vocabulary. They are complex yet familiar objects; which is why they make a perfect subject for this exercise.
Sitting where you are, look down at your hands. If you’re daring you can attempt to visualize both of your hands, otherwise you can focus on just one to get the most out of this exercise. Take your time and really look them over for a solid 30 seconds. Notice the pattern of hair or wrinkles in your skin. Follow the bumpy contour with your eyes. See the variation in tone that the falling light causes across your skin.
When you close your eyes recall each detail in the order that you noticed it. Mentally trace the contour of your hand. As you do that – start to imagine the color of your skin and it’s various tones. Consider the subtle translucence of the fingernails. When you are able to imagine all of the details of your hand, you can move on to the next part of this exercise.
The second part of this exercise will help you imagine various actions.
Although it’s fun to do, visualizing stationary objects doesn’t accomplish much. We’re now going to visualize the hands in action so that we can accomplish something useful.
Let’s say that you wanted to perfect a skill involving your hands – something like archery or sculpting. Visualizing a clear image of your hands would be the first step to mental practice.
Sewing involves a good amount of hand dexterity. We’re going to use this example because of the fine detail required and the ease of imagining one particular action – threading a needle.
You might be laughing or considering skipping this exercise, but please give it a shot. Threading a needle is simple to consider, but it’s a prime example of an action that’s already ingrained in the mind. You might be surprised at the challenge this exercise presents. If you don’t want to imagine threading a needle, then you can try something else like tying a knot or drawing a straight line. The point is – your motor skills can have an impact on the scene you imagine – you’ll recognize this as soon as you start to visualize the action.
Take a moment to visualize a clear picture of your hands. When you have a good image of your hands, consider the objects you are going to interact with. Is there a spool of thread and a needle in your imagined scene?
Once you have all of the elements in the scene – slowly move your hands to interact with these imaginary objects. Try to imagine the way your hand grasps the thread and pulls the spool. Now carefully pick up the needle and position it for threading. Can you feel the cold metal on your fingers? Now line up the eye of the needle and the bit of thread – see if you can get the thread to go through on the first try.
If you get it, continue to repeat the action several times. See how much detail you can create in your mind. Is it a clear image of the action or a vauge idea? Achieve as much clarity as possible.
It’s okay if you’re having trouble threading the needle. This is a good way to understand how mental practice works. At times your action will happen on the first attempt, but don’t expect it to work out this way every time. Especially when learning a new skill you’ll notice that you will still make errors – even in your imagination!
When you correct these errors the action will become natural and easy. By doing this you are creating an accurate mental model of how something should be done. You are building motor memory and rewiring neural circuits, just by using your imagination.
Don’t underestimate the importance of visualization practice. It has been proven time and time again and it can help you accomplish any number of things. I hope you had fun with these exercises. Using these concepts I encourage you to create some mental scripts of your own.