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Creative Visualization

Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental image of yourself succeeding.   Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture...Do not build up obstacles in your imagination."
Norman Vincent Peale

Creative visualization is the technique of using imagination to create an idea or mental picture in one’s mind of what he or she wants to have, be or accomplish.  At the core of the technique is the concept that by creating a clear mental image of what we want and then focusing on that image repeatedly and consistently, we can mold our subconscious thoughts to influence our behavior to manifest our desires.  All that is required of someone employing creative visualization is the belief that what is desired is possible along with an appreciation of the psychological concepts pertaining to conditioning and the workings of the subconscious mind. Creative visualization does not require any spiritual or metaphysical beliefs or “having faith” in any power outside of one’s self.

The underlying principle of creative visualization is that thoughts, if powerful enough, can be accepted as truth by our subconscious mind. This changes our mindset accordingly.  As a result we develop new, positive expectations about what is possible and our capabilities for achieving it which in turn, influence our physical behavior to actually bring about what our mind believes to be real.  The fundamental benefit imparted by creative visualization is that it helps free us from the usually self-imposed limitations we place on our selves.

The Role of Affirmations

Affirmations are positive statements that describe a desired outcome and are one of the most important elements of creative visualization.  To affirm means to “make firm.” An affirmation is a powerful statement that something is already so. They work in the same manner as other creative visualization techniques by programming our minds much as commands and scripts program a computer. When repeated over and over, affirmations build mental images in the conscious mind corresponding to the focus of the affirmation, and these mental images eventually become embedded in our subconsciousMost of us engage in ongoing  “self-talk” on a regular basis.  The subject matter of this dialogue usually covers an incredible range of topics about ourselves, our relationships, our jobs and a multitude of other things.  Most of the time we aren’t really aware of the tremendous impact our “self- talk” has on our thoughts and feelings and our resulting behavior.  Our silent mental chatter usually reflects patterns of thought, often negative, that we picked up years ago, which are still having an impact on us today.  The use of affirmations such as “I am an excellent manager” or “I am very happy in my work,” can help us displace our old, usually useless if not downright harmful “self-talk” with more positive and productive thoughts and feelings.

Creative Visualization in Sports

Creative visualization is the basic technique underlying the impact of positive thinking and is frequently used by athletes to enhance their performance.  It is based on a physiological principle involved in the development of learned physical behavior.  When a deliberate physical behavior is performed, clusters of neurons in the brain work together to create a memory of the learned behavior.  The next time the brain initiates the same behavior, it prompts the neuron clusters to transmit the previously learned impulse from the brain to the muscles involved to re-create the behavior.  The more the behavior is performed, the more developed the neural memory becomes, and the greater is the improvement in the performance. Such learning takes place at a subconscious level.  Athletes, for example do not learn to perform better by thinking consciously about each and every minor adjustment in technique as it is being implemented.  The improved behavior is generated automatically through transmission of nervous impulses reflecting the previous learning developed from extensive practice.  It is automatic. In fact, there is strong evidence that supports the notion that conscious concentration on sports technique actually impairs performance.

Judd Blaslotto, Pd. D. of the University of Chicago devised an experiment to study the effects of visualization in athletic performance.  His study focused on  the free-throw performance of basketball players."

First, all the athletes involved in the experiment were tested to determine their free-throw proficiency. They were then randomly assigned to one of three equal-sized experimental groups. The first group went to the gym every day for one hour and practiced throwing free throws.  The second group also went to the gym, but instead of physically practicing, they lay down and simply visualized themselves making repeated successful shots.  The third group did nothing. In fact, they were instructed to forget about basketball entirely.  At the end of 30 days, the three groups were again tested to determine their free-throw proficiency.

The players who hadn't practiced at all showed no improvement in performance; many in that group actually exhibited a drop. Those who had physically practiced one hour each day showed an average performance increase of 24 %.  Amazingly however, the visualization group, by merely imagining themselves successfully shooting free throws, improved an average of 23 %, only 1 % less than the players who actually practiced. 
"Not only does a visualized experience condition the human brain," says Dr. Blaslotto, a world-class power lifter and author of a number of books on mind control, "but it will also program the human body."  This mind-body connection brought about by visualization is known as the video-motor concept. The results of this study suggest that by simply imagining that a behavior is taking place, the human brain generates the same impulses and induces the same neuronal learning as if the physical performance were actually occurring. According to Dr Blaslotto, “If you close your eyes and visualize yourself doing something, your body's actions are programmed in exactly the same manner as if you actually did them."

The Case for Creative Visualization in Our Daily Lives

Dr. Blaslotto’s experiment may have some very powerful implications regarding the usefulness of creative visualization (including affirmations) in our daily lives.  If visualizing (mentally practicing) shooting baskets can lead to improved performance on the basketball court, why can’t repeatedly visualizing a successful budget presentation lead to increases success in the business arena? If focused mental practice through visualization can work wonders in one area of life, why can’t is do the same in other areas as well?However, there is another equally important and even more basic reason why creative visualization can pay tremendous dividends, and that has to do with goal setting.  We cannot accomplish anything in life unless we can first see it though our mind’s eye.  We have got to see it before we can achieve it.  It follows then that the better we are at visualizing, the more potential opportunities for success and happiness we will open ourselves up to and the more rewarding and satisfying our live may become.   In the words of motivational speaker and author Les Brown,  "You must see your goals clearly and specifically before you can set out for them.  Hold them in your mind until they become second nature.“

Please contact us for details about a no obligations consultation regarding your performance improvement needs.      Phone: 860-283-9963 |

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