How To Use Visualization To Get What You Want
We have two minds—the conscious and the subconscious. According to Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., a former professor of medicine at Stanford University, "the subconscious mind operates at 40 million bits of data per second, whereas the conscious mind processes at only 40 bits per second."
Without our even knowing, our subconscious mind is processing things at an astronomical rate. So how can we harness this power and use it to our advantage?
Well, the subconscious mind thinks in visual images and feelings. This could mean that if you set a goal of earning a certain amount of money or finding your soul mate, you are much more likely to obtain these future goals if you try focusing on the mental imagery and feelings associated with them. Here is a primer on the power of visualization and how to put visualization tools into practice in your real life.
How visualization works.
Visualization is like a mental rehearsal for something that you want to call into your life. It pulls on principles from the law of attraction, which basically says that we call in what we put out. If someone is constantly burdened by negative thoughts, it will be challenging for them to recognize the positivity in their life and attract more of it. Conversely, if someone consistently pictures themselves on top of their game, it can help them have more faith in their ability to perform. (It's no surprise then, that successful people from Jim Carrey to Oprah credit some of their success to regular visualization.)
By imagining what it would look and feel like to live out our goals, we can also light up the neuromuscular pathways1 that connect our brain to our muscles. Doing so can help our brains start to consider what it would feel like to have already achieved that goal.
When done regularly as a daily practice, visualization becomes second-nature and it gets easier to craft effective visual representations.
How to find the right images for you.
It’s important to visualize your goals with images that trigger you in the most physical way possible. You can tell when you’ve found a great image because you'll feel the sensation of that excitement in your body.
Whether it's a tingling feeling like champagne bubbles in your stomach or the hairs on your arms stand up a bit—try taking notice of how different images trigger you physiologically when you visualize your goals.
For example, my business partner and I want to write a best-selling book. So I tried to visualize our book at the top of The New York Times bestseller list, but that image didn't seem quite right. I didn't feel any sensations of excitement in my body.
Instead, I started to imagine that I already had a best-selling book. I visualized the situations that could come with this scenario that made me feel excited.
This was the scenario that came to my mind:
I’m walking through the airport, traveling for business. I’m running a bit late (as I often do), frantically looking up at the monitor and searching for my gate, when out of the corner of my eye, I see my own face looking back at me from the airport bookstore. It’s very surreal, completely unexpected and a bit unsettling. Then I realize it’s my bestselling book and a huge smile spreads across my face!
As bizarre as it may sound to you, it was this series of images that created a happy, tingling and excited feeling in my body.
Another woman I know experienced similar success through her own visualizations. She was single and wanted to find her soul mate. She said that she could picture clearly, the toasts at her wedding—tears would fill her eyes. And just less than three months later, she met this wonderful man. They just decided to move in together and while she isn’t engaged yet, she’s incredibly happy and feels confident that the relationship is here to stay.
How to start visualizing.
To get started with a basic visualization, think about one of your goals for the future. (I find that it helps to try visualizing your ideal life five years from now.) Close your eyes and try to imagine different scenarios that could occur if this goal were a reality. Find the images that most excite you in your body and focus on those. Once you’ve gotten clear on the images that excite you and represent your goals, it’s important to visualize them often in your mind's eye, to continuously trigger the power of your subconscious. Here are some visualization techniques that can help you stay on top of it:
Make a vision board.
One great way to make a physical representation of your goals is to create a vision board. Collect words, images, and art that represent your goal and place them on a board or anywhere where you'll see them every day and be reminded of what you're working towards.
Listen to a guided meditation.
The element of guided relaxation can help you tune into your subconscious mind and strengthen your connection to your goals. Make a ritual out of listening to them daily.
Make a new nightly routine.
Every night when you go to sleep, spend about two minutes picturing the images of your future success. If you made a vision board, look at it right before bed and again first thing in the morning. According to Wayne Dyer, the last two minutes before you fall asleep at night stay in your subconscious mind for up to four hours while you’re sleeping, making this a great time to do your visualization.
When you imagine your future success, your subconscious mind will draw in people and opportunities to make that future success a reality. So give visualization a try and create the future of your dreams!
Vanessa Loder, MBA, is a women’s leadership expert, inspirational speaker, and mindfulness teacher. After getting her Master's in Business Administration from Stanford and working on Wall Street and Silicon Valley, Vanessa realized she'd climbed to the top of the wrong ladder. She was then inspired to begin helping other discover their "soul's purpose." Loder is certified in past life regression hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming and executive coaching. She's been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, the Huffington Post and Glamour Magazine. Her Tedx talk “How To Lean In Without Burning Out” has over 125,000 views. Today, Vanessa lives in Lafayette, California with her husband and two children.