Visualization or ‘mental imaging’ is a tool used to help you build more certainty and internal drive to achieve what you desire. It provides a step-by-step guide that helps build the life we dream of.
It is incredibly important that we consciously control our thoughts and beliefs as these reflect themselves in our daily life. Towards our colleagues at work, our family and they even affect our own mental well-being.
The power of visualization has often been recognized by the greatest athletes in history. Whether that was Roger Banister in 1954, being the first human to run a mile in 4 minutes or less, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, the eight-time winner of Mr. Olympia. In fact, Roger Banister, who next to his athletic career was also a neurologist, claims that he had always made use of visualization. This, he explained, allowed him to achieve something that defied all the assumptions of what humans were physically capable of.
“Certainty is a mental state of being without doubt; confident and assured.”
Visualization is an incredibly powerful tool that will help gain the certainty and confidence needed to achieve your vision. It fuels our beliefs about what we believe is possible to achieve.
Why does Visualization work?
The purpose of visualization is to give us a greater feeling of certainty. Research at the University of Claude Bernard in Lyon has found that our unconscious mind cannot distinguish from real-life situations or imaginations. In this respect, our unconscious mind reacts to the images it is confronted with.
All of our daily habits originate from our unconscious mind. Visualization is, therefore, a tool that helps train the unconscious mind. Rehearsing mental images over and over again activates the neural networks as well as the sympathetic nervous system that would be active as when we would actually be in that situation (e.g. increase in breathing, heart rate and stress hormones)
Chemical reasons: Dopamine & Endorphins
You may have heard of dopamine and endorphins. Dopamine is a hormone that is released whenever we achieve a goal. Fortunately enough, it is also released when we can see a goal in front of us. Imagine being really hungry and seeing an apple tree in the distance. There is your first shot of dopamine. The dopamine now focuses your body to move towards the stimuli that brought about that feeling of excitement. Once the apple tree is reached, the body experiences a great surge of dopamine. This is why it feels good when we eat. Visualization is no different. Through creating a mental image, we receive consistent short shots of dopamine, thus we continuously train to focus our mind on the desired goal.
Visualization is no different. Through creating a mental image, we receive consistent short shots of dopamine, thus we continuously train ourselves to focus our mind on the desired goal.
Endorphins are engineered to mask physical pain. They are designed to allow us to operate outside of our comfort zone. A classic example may be an ‘endorphin rush’. It brings about feelings of great pleasure and excitement in response to the action taken. Endorphins are harder to release when thinking about a goal. Yet it is possible to still release small amounts that additionally help us condition our mind towards a stimulus.
Take-home message. Visualization is a tool used to trick our mind. Through actively and consistently visualizing our desired outcome, our neural networks condition the physical body to act accordingly and take necessary action. It provides a great way for preparing us for situations through the arousing and conditioning of various features in our body. Whether you’re a public speaker or high-performance athlete like Roger Banister, visualization is a highly powerful tool to make use of.
“Success is like a snowball… it takes momentum to build and the more it rolls in the right direction, the bigger it gets.” – Steve Ferrante