Your body doesn’t realize the difference between reality and visualization or imagination. If I asked you to close your eyes and imagine:
- that you are standing on top of the tallest building of the world, the wind is howling and you’re standing there without a safety rail. One wrong move and you’re toast. You feel the top swaying from the wind and when you look down, it seems like a million miles down
- that you are in a work meeting, in front of your company president and your most important client. you’re presenting the new approach to streamlining widgets. All eyes are on you and your presentation flops. You can tell your boss if fuming and the client won’t even look you in the eye.
If you performed these exercises as described, your heart would probably have started beating faster, maybe you would have started sweating, breathing harder and seen your cortisol rise. Alternatively, if you visualized yourself relaxing in a warm floating cloud, light as a feather and feeling the positive energy all around you, you would come away both relaxed and energized. I’ve done some guided visualization activities (in person, by audio and video) and always come away feeling amazing.
Visualization is very powerful, and your body can’t tell the difference between it and reality. Many people unconsciously create and visualize life scenarios in a negative manner. My presentation is going to suck. Swimsuit shopping later today is going to suck and I’ll look bad in everything. That design I did is going to be scrutinized and my boss or client will find flaws. You get the idea. Negative self talk and negative images are toxic. The thing about visualization is that it is in many ways reality, and at a minimum is a tool to get your head in the proper place and become happier now. Or you can use it as a tool to be unhappy, that’s your choice.
I’ve talked before about my vision board, which is one tool to employ. Actor Jim Carrey used to park every day on Muholland Drive envisioning what a huge star he would become. He wrote himself a 5-year post dated check for 5 million dollars for future acting services to be rendered. After becoming somewhat successful with In Living Color and earlier works that paved the way (Ace Ventura and the Mask) he hit his goal with Dumb and Dumber. Oprah reflects back on Jim Carrey’s visualization story and what she learned
For those that don’t watch, the key points he says: I would visualize things coming to me. It would just make me feel better. Visualization works if you work hard. That’s the thing. You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.
When you visualize, imagine you’ve already achieved your goal. Involve your senses – what does it smell like in the garden of your dreams? What sort of emotions are you feeling after you’ve won your age group in the race? What do you see from your kitchen window in your rural farmstead you’ve been dreaming of? It’s much more powerful to imagine you’ve already achieved your goal. Self talk also helps “I’m so happy and satisfied that I’ve succeeded in starting my own business.” or whatever.
When you start to think and visualize and achieve (at least in your own head) your dreams and goals, and you make some sort of steps off the beaten path, your subconscious will also become involved. As the book/movie (on Netflix) The Secret says over and over: don’t worry about the path to your goal, that is out of your hands in some ways, just focus on the goal itself and just. do. something. to start the journey. Start the snowball rolling and it will find a way.
I know some of you don’t come here for metaphysical, self-help ramblings, but this stuff works. Our family went hiking and swimming at a state park last weekend. In the lodge lunch area, they had a gift shop. Birdsnest has been making up hiking sticks with various instruments at home for a couple of weeks now, and REALLY wanted one of the aluminum hiking sticks in the gift shop, so much so that she said she would use her allowance to pay us back (they were about $17). We didn’t commit one way or the other, but said we would revisit the issue after swimming. While she was changing into her swimming suit a few minutes later, she found a $20 bill on the floor of the bathroom. She can now be seen walking around the neighborhood with her new aluminum hiking stick.
Even if visualization doesn’t always work exactly that literally, it does create positive energy and a sense of well-being, and lays open potential paths where anything can happen.
Anyways, so much of the internet and news and Facebook is so mean-spirited and negative. Endless debates on feminism and narcissism and bros and the like are making my eyes and ears bleed. People and marriages are at different spots on their journey, and I can recognize the need to cast a large net to bring society into the light on some of these topics, and I will continue to write about them as well. However, occasionally there needs to be simple, positive, life affirming messages that are lighthearted instead of so dang heavy. Life isn’t meant to be a grind, it’s meant to be loved and enjoyed. Some basic work (holding down a job, gaining skills, exercise, life maintenance stuff) may be necessary to lay the foundation for this enjoyment, but satisfaction can even be obtained from those activities by a job well done. I’d like to try and incorporate more of that feeling into my messages as best I can.
Mr. Money Mustache says it pretty succinctly:
“Life is not a contest to see who can accomplish the most. It’s simply a series of days where your goal is to wake up, have a great time, and go to bed even happier than when you woke up.”