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.
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 subconscious. Most 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.
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
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