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June 8 - Visualize Your Way to Success

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  • Written By: Pam Nelson
It is the use of the imagination through pictures or mental imagery to create visions of what we want in our lives and how to make them happen. Just as affirmations can help you motivate yourself and focus better to achieve your goals so can using visualization, or mental imagery. Your challenge today is to use visualization to harness the power of your mind to achieve your goal. Not sure how? Let us help…

We’ve all heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That’s how visualization works too. Visualization is harnessing the power of your conscious and (especially) your subconscious mind to create a mental picture of the reality you want. Done with focus, concentration, purpose, and intensity, visualization can quite literally remake your reality.

But be careful! Our minds are incredibly powerful. Our minds will direct our lives toward whatever it is that we focus on the most strongly and intently. And there are a couple of things we should know about HOW our minds work, especially that subconscious mind, to be sure we’re not sabotaging ourselves.

The conscious mind is what you’re aware of – where all your conscious thought processes go on. It’s used for higher-level thinking, for learning, for communicating with others. The subconscious mind, by definition, works beneath the level of the conscious and we usually are NOT aware of it and can’t consciously control it – and a great deal of the time, IT CONTROLS US. Think about that a minute.

Much of our daily routine is just that – routine – and requires little conscious thought on our part: moving from place to place, eating, drinking, sitting in front of the computer or the TV – I’m sure you can add on other items you can do almost mindlessly. In any activity where we are not actively, consciously focusing our attention on what we’re doing, our subconscious mind is controlling us. Think of your subconscious as your autopilot. That’s actually a good analogy, because the subconscious gets programmed and then directs our actions based on its programming. So now is a good time to understand something fundamental about HOW the subconscious gets programmed.

Like the conscious mind, the subconscious accepts both verbal & visual input. UNLIKE the conscious mind, though, the subconscious fails to recognize negative messages – when you phrase a thought with “not” or “no” in any form. So any time your conscious mind tries to send a negative program to your subconscious mind, the message gets reversed.

This fact sabotages golfers all the time. While your conscious mind is thinking, “Don’t hit left,” your subconscious mind (which is going to control the trajectory of your shot) hears, “Hit left,” and visualizes the shot going left, because it completely fails to register the word “don’t.”

When I was a child trying to learn to ride a bike, I was so afraid of falling that I stayed hyper-focused all the time on the street directly ahead of my front wheel. ALL my focus was on things that might make me lose my balance and fall. Therefore, my mind faithfully and obediently found them for me. And because I focused on the OBSTACLE, and not on the path AROUND the obstacle, my mind took my bike (and me) right into it, causing me to (you guessed it) FALL.

This is what I mean about being careful how you use your mind. We think we are conscious, rational beings, and feel we (should) always make conscious, rational choices & decisions, but we sabotage ourselves by using negative words and images. If you’re trying to lose weight but are constantly focused on food, and always telling yourself, “You can’t have that,” or “I won’t eat that,” think about the messages your subconscious is getting: “You CAN have that,” and “I WILL eat that.” Is it any wonder you can find yourself munching away on autopilot? After all, the subconscious IS your autopilot, and you programmed it. So program positively instead: rather than “I won’t eat that doughnut,” say “I will eat my apple” or whatever other healthy snack you’ve provided for yourself (yes, planning matters too).

And where does visualization come in? You can far more effectively sidetrack the sabotage of your subconscious mind by visualizing yourself (seeing the image in your mind) actively doing something that takes you in the direction you consciously want to go. Instead of saying to yourself, “Don’t eat that,” visualize yourself turning around and walking away. Instead of saying, “I’m not going to miss my workout,” visualize yourself during and/or right after your workout, and see how good you feel. SEE yourself playing with your grandchildren if that’s your motivation for getting into shape. If you concentrate on showing your subconscious the reality you want, with focus, intensity, and purpose, your subconscious can and will begin to reshape your external reality to match your visualization. Try it!

by Pamela Nelson, Reformer Pilates Instructor/Certified Personal Trainer/Multi-Format Group Exercise Instructor.