The Visualization Definition And How It Transforms Your Life
Updated February 13, 2020
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Visualization is a term that is showing up in the media and spotlight more and more lately. There is a lot of question about what this word really means and the impact that it can have. Many successful people are crediting the act of visualization as the secret to their success. A lot of people are intrigued by this, but many still don't have a proper understanding of the visualization definition. This leaves people with questions about what it is exactly, how to do it, and what type of impact it can have on their life.
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, "formation of mental visual images or the act or process of interpreting visual terms or of putting into visible form." If you're like most people, this definition does not clear up anything for you.
A simplified version of the visualization definition is this: picture in your mind the things that you want in your life. Visualization is usually paired with meditation and mindfulness. What this process would look like is going to a quiet place, closing your eyes and calming your body, and starting to think about things that you want to experience in life. During this process, you want to get as detailed as you possibly can.
For example, if you want to win an award in the future for contribution at your work, you would close your eyes and picture yourself winning the award. You would think about what it would feel like to hear your name called as the winner. You would think about what you were wearing and what you looked like. You would even imagine the details about who is presenting the award to you, what are they saying about you, and what it feels like to hold the award in your hand.
Another way to understand what visualization looks like is to think about sports. Many professional athletes use the practice of visualization before games. They think through shooting the ball, passing the ball, throwing the ball, catching the ball, hitting the ball, kicking the ball, or whatever their sport requires. Studies have been done that found that basketball players were able to improve the percentage of free throws made by simply visualizing making free throws without even practicing shooting the ball
How To Visualize
If you want to start adding the practice of visualization into your life, here are the steps that you can follow.
- Find a quiet place to sit. Make sure this is a place where you will not be disturbed.
- Close your eyes and take several deep breaths to help yourself relax.
- 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. Make sure that you add into your visualization your feelings and emotions related to what you are visualizing.
- 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 it's important that you continue to maintain a good attitude about whatever it is that you are visualizing. It's not going to help you visualize if you spend the rest of the day thinking that what you're visualizing is impossible. Instead, continue to hold on to the belief that you can achieve that in your life throughout the rest of the day.
What Is The Science Behind It?
If you're new to the idea of visualization, you may find yourself questioning if it can actually work and how. Visualization is simply training your mind. In a way, you are practicing for experiencing whatever it is that you want in your life. The more you focus on something, the more you are likely 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 it because your mind has settled and subconsciously you are not motivated to go after what it is that you want really.
However, when you spend time actively visualizing what it is you want for yourself, you are creating that motivation within to go after it. The more you visualize it, the more you are able to really see and believe that it is possible in your life. You will look for the 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 the basketball players were able to increase the percentage of shots they made without ever shooting a basketball. They were training their brain 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.
How Can Visualization Transform Your Life?
Now that you have a better 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.
As mentioned above, there are many athletes that 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 better results and boost your productivity.
One of the reasons that your performance will 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.
There's a large percentage of people that hate public speaking. 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 good response helps you to remember your speech. It also helps you to go in having more confidence when you are really 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 really, we will never really know. When you spend time visualizing situations and thinking through the details of them, you get in tune with yourself. You begin to understand yourself better. You're able to see the things that you want to achieve in life. This helps you to understand on a deeper level why you want those things. Working through visualizations helps you to come up with clear goals and really understand what it is that you want. The more detailed you get about it, the clearer you'll actually get on 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 is 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 very many successful people that practice it. Tony Robbins 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 work. Talking to a licensed therapist at BetterHelp can be the first step to improving your thinking. Once you solve, the underlying issues visualization can be a lot more effective.