The Visualization Definition And How It Can Transform Your Life

Updated March 23, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Kids naturally use creativity and their imaginations as they grow up. Upon reaching adulthood, this may start to come to an end—something experts are beginning to see as premature. Many successful people are crediting the act of visualization as the secret to their success, which may be encouraging for those who miss using their imaginations as they once did as children. Visualization can look different for everyone, including how it’s carried out, when and where you practice it, and how it affects your life. Understanding and using this technique can help transform your life as you knew it. 

Could Visualization Be The Key To Reaching Your Goals?

What Is Visualization?

If you are confused about the meaning of visualization, looking up the definition in the dictionary can leave you with a lot more questions. The visualization definition given by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is, "the formation of mental visual images or the act or process of interpreting visual terms or of putting them into visible form." If you're like many people, this definition may not clear much of anything up anything for you.

A simplified version of the visualization definition is this: picture in your mind the things that you want in and out of your life. Focus on attaining them and think about what it would be like if you achieved those goals. 

Visualization is usually paired with meditation and mindfulness. This process varies, but it often looks like going to a quiet place, closing your eyes, calming your body, and starting to think about those things that you want to experience in life. During this process, you want to get as detailed as you possibly can.

Here’s an example: If you want to win an award in the future for contributions at your place of work, you could close your eyes and picture yourself winning the award. Think about what it would feel like to hear your name called as the winner. Picture what you would wear and how you would look. Imagine the details about who is presenting the award to you, what they are saying about you, and what it feels like to hold the award in your hand.

How To Visualize

If you want to start adding the practice of visualization into your life, here are the steps that you can follow.

  1. Find a quiet place to sit. Make sure this is a place where you will not be disturbed.

  2. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths to help yourself relax.

  3. Begin to think about the outcome, object, or situation that you want in your life. Think about it as clearly as possible with every detail that you can imagine. Fully feel the emotions related to what you are visualizing.

  4. Practice doing this at least once a day, but preferably more.

You don't have to spend hours visualizing. It can be something that you do for just 5 or 10 minutes every time you get started. When you have finished visualizing, continue to hold onto that vision throughout the day. 

What Is The Science Behind It?

Visualization is simply training your mind. In a way, you are practicing experiencing whatever it is that you want in your life. The more you focus on something, the more likely you are to see it in your life. You've probably heard the idea that you get in life what you expect. If you don't expect much in life, you are likely to achieve just that because your mind has settled and, subconsciously, you are not motivated to go after what it is that you really want.

However, when you spend time actively visualizing what it is you want for yourself, you are creating the motivation within yourself to go after it. The more you visualize it, the more you can see and believe that it is possible in your life. You can also look for more opportunities to make it happen. 

The actual science behind visualization relates to the neural patterns of your brain. As you continue to think and visualize the things that you want in your life, you create neural patterns the same way as if you had actually done that activity. This is why, as studies have shown, basketball players can increase the percentage of shots they make without ever shooting a basketball in practice. They train their brains on how to succeed at shooting. The nervous system of your body is stimulated just by thinking about something, even if you have never taken part in the activity before.

Could Visualization Be The Key To Reaching Your Goals?

How Can Visualization Transform Your Life?

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the visualization definition, it's time to see how it can apply to your life. Here are ways that adding visualization to your life can help you.

Improved Performance

There are many athletes who participate in the practice of visualization to improve their athletic ability. However, this can also apply to non-athletes as well. Visualizing your work performance can help you to deliver higher-quality results and boost your productivity.

One of the reasons that your performance can improve is that you're more focused on your work. You're training your mind to focus through the visualization process. We have many things that work to distract us throughout our day, including other people and technology. Our brain gets used to having this constant stimulation and activity; however, it also makes it more difficult for us to focus. When you practice visualization, you are getting into the routine of calming your mind, thus helping you train yourself to focus on one thing at a time. You're retraining your brain to focus.

Overcome Anxiety

There's a large percentage of people who hate public speaking or experience genuine anxiety while doing it. This includes standing in front of a larger room full of people or giving a presentation in front of a conference table full of co-workers. If you have a presentation coming up, you can overcome your anxiety and nervousness with the practice of visualization. Visualizing giving your speech and having a positive response helps you to remember your speech. It also allows you to go in with more confidence when you are ready to perform.

Learn What You Really Want

Life is busy, and if we don't take the time to think about what we want, we may never figure it out. When you spend time visualizing situations and thinking through the details of them, you can get in tune with yourself and begin to understand yourself on a deeper level. You're able to see the things that you want to achieve in life, which can help you to understand on a deeper level why you want those things. Working through visualizations can allow you to come up with clear goals and really understand what it is that you want. The more detailed you are, the clearer you can be about what that looks like in your life.

Reduce The Amount Of Stress That You Experience

When you take time to visualize, you're taking time out of your day, and that helps you to get away from the stress in your life. You are calming yourself from the inside out, which can help to alleviate the pressure of stress. You are learning how to control your thoughts. This can be an important ability to have if you are constantly living in stressful situations. Visualization allows you to take control of what you are thinking about and how your body is reacting.

By continuing to practice visualization, you can learn to control your body's reaction and calm your mind even in the midst of a difficult situation when you don't have time to step away and find a quiet place. These practices can also be used when you are trying to fall asleep.

There are many different ways to talk about visualization, and there are successful people who practice it. Tony Robbins, a top business strategist, once said, "Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life." If you are struggling to fill your head with positive things that you want in and for your life, there could be a bigger problem at play. These issues could be discussed with a professional, as visualization is not a cure for everything and may not be enough for the problems you’re facing.  

Online Counseling With BetterHelp

If you’d like to learn more about visualization along with other kinds of helpful methods, consider speaking with a licensed professional through an online counseling platform like BetterHelp. One of the benefits of BetterHelp is that it’s available anytime and anywhere, including from the comfort of your own home – you’ll just need an internet connection to get started. Sessions can be held via phone call, video chat, or a feature that allows you to send messages back and forth with your therapist. This remote nature also makes online therapy cheaper than most other options, and more convenient as well.

The Efficacy Of Online Counseling 

BetterHelp is the world’s largest therapy platform, with over 30,000 therapists worldwide. The Berkeley Well-Being Institute performed a study that found that BetterHelp has helped 98% of clients experience “significant improvement” in their mental health journeys. Additionally, 94% of clients say they prefer BetterHelp to other forms of therapy, and 100% rate it as being convenient. This is compared to 74%, just 60%, and 80% of face-to-face therapy users, respectively.

Counselor Reviews

“Rhonda is great. She helped me cut through my mental clutter, and use breathing, visualization and sensory mindfulness to mitigate and address some of life's issues.”

“Dr. Gemma is the absolute best! Within a short period of time, she was able to help me see things from a different perspective, allowed me to be vulnerable and transparent (something that hasn't been easy for me) and just overall listened and provided amazing feedback!”

The Takeaway

Visualization, among other techniques, can transform your life in a number of ways. If you’ve never used this method before, you may wonder how to get started. Connecting with an online therapist may allow you to learn more about visualization and you can get equipped with other helpful techniques as well. Reaching your goals and moving toward the life you imagine may feel simpler with a licensed therapist guiding and supporting you along the way.

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