If you’ve been reading my articles you will know I tend toward positivity, managing our thoughts and looking on the bright side of life. I’m also a believer in the power of the subconscious and in visualisation and they are both things I have written about before. The subconscious is always trying to work things out for us and many of you will have experienced this in ‘overthinking’, when thoughts keep coming to your mind often when you are trying to switch off or sleep – anxiety may play apart but essentially it is our subconscious searching for solutions for ways to work out what we have seen as a problem.
Visualisation is a powerful tool as it can give our subconscious a taste of what we want to experience. When visualising it is helpful to get in touch with the emotions we’d feel so it’s not just imagination, though that is part of it, visualisation is about painting a detailed picture in our mind of something we want to see happen in our life and painting it in glorious technicolour adding in the detail and importantly getting in touch with the emotions.
The power behind it is in the belief that if we can envisage something, we can create it, make it happen. In fact, if we are visualising it, we can get into the feeling place of it already happening.
Visualisations helps us to feel empowered, we may not be incontrol of everything that happens but we are in control of a lot and it is a great way to focus our minds and stay in touch with our goals and purpose. It’s also a great way to stay motivated whatever we are working towards or trying to achieve, the chances are there will be some things we have to do that we aren’t so keen on or take more effort than we’d like. There may be things that make us a bit afraid – after all risk is often an element in achieving our goals, being prepared to putourselves out there. Of course, if we don’t take risks, we may never fail but we may never reach our more ambitious goals either.
But importantly the brain doesn’t distinguish between real and imagined so it will start work to achieve it when you start visualising.
But recently I have come across the suggestion that we should not just focus on the good outcomes, the things we want to achieve but also on the things that might get in the way.Both sport men and women and personnel in the armed forces have used visualisation powerfully to help overcome problems. By imagining, in detail, the obstacles that may appear or the problems we may have to face, or the things that can go wrong that can put us in a good place to overcome them
That is the important part we don’t just imagine the problem we imagine the solution or at least we identify the possible problem and let our subconscious identify the solutions. It may take a while but by posing the problem our subconscious is able to trawl the memories and knowledge we have about other similar situations we may have encountered and what the solutions to that might be.
In essence it’s about imagining falling over or coming up against a wall but then imagining getting up again or finding a way over under or round the wall.
Think of it as contingency planning. When service men prepare for missions they will run through every possible scenario – all the things that might go right but also all the things that could go wrong. What if the intelligence wasn’t accurate, what a vehicle doesn’t start, or weather conditions change? They could all present problems but if these scenarios have been anticipated and solutions found then the impact may not be as negative.
Visualising a problem allows your mind time to start being creative about solutions or alternatives. In some ways it does involve a degree of pessimism but it is a purposeful pessimism – it’s purpose being to prepare you so when something difficult happens you aren’t thrown or ready to give up and instead you can think ‘yes – I know what I can try now’.
Effective visualisation involves getting in touch with the emotions and the same is true when we envisage problems. One of the things that make emotions a challenge is if they are unexpected, they really can throw us. But if we have already anticipated the problem have some ideas about solutions or at least allowed both our conscious and subconscious mind time to be creative and allowed ourselves to imagine the emotions we may feel then the obstacle will probably be much easier to overcome.
So, next time you find yourself with a few minutes spare use it wisely by allowing yourself to daydream, but with a purpose, envisaging the life you want or an aspect of the life you want and harnessing the power of your subconscious through visualisation to get it – it could be the most productive part of your day.
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