What does it mean to see yourself succeed? This creative mechanism within you can help you become your ideal “self,” if you will form a picture in your imagination of the person you want to be and “see yourself” in the new role.
FOUR WAYS TO USE THIS SKILL
1 ~ Create a Mental Motion Picture
Take 15 minutes each day and relax your body as much as possible in a comfortable place. Close your eyes. Create a mental motion picture of yourself as you would like to be. Imagine, in great detail, your ideal self. Imagine your face radiant and smiling; your body at its optimum shape and fitness level; your clothes well-fitting and nice. Imagine (in great detail) doing something extremely well that you enjoy doing, with the people around you appreciative and admiring.
Regarding one’s self-image, Dr. Maxwell Maltz noted:
Your present self-image was built upon your own imagination pictures of yourself in the past which grew out of interpretations and evaluation which you placed upon experience. Now you are to use the same method to build an adequate self-image that you previously used to build an inadequate one.
Set aside 30 minutes each day where you can be alone and undisturbed. (Paula’s note: I believe 15 minutes is sufficient) Relax and make yourself as comfortable as possible. Now close your eyes and exercise your imagination.
Many people find they get better results if they imagine themselves sitting before a large movie screen – and imagine that they are seeing a motion picture of themselves. The important thing is to make these pictures as vivid and as detailed as possible. You want your mental pictures to approximate actual experience as much as possible. The way to do this is pay attention to small details, sights, sounds, objects, in your imagined environment.
Details of the imagined environment are all-important in this exercise, because for all practical purposes, you are creating a practice experience. And if the imagination is vivid and detailed enough, your imagination practice is equivalent to an actual experience, insofar as your nervous system is concerned.
The next important thing to remember is that during this 15 minutes you see yourself acting and reacting successfully, ideally. It doesn’t matter how you acted yesterday. You do not need to try to have faith you will act in the ideal way tomorrow. Your nervous system will take care of that in time – if you continue to practice. See yourself acting, feeling, “being” as you want to be. Don’t say to yourself, “I am going to act this way tomorrow.” Just say to yourself, “I am going to imagine myself acting this way now – for 30 (15) minutes – today.” (Psycho-Cybernetics)
“Imagine how you would feel if you were already the sort of personality you want to be.” Dr. Maxwell Maltz
If you have been shy and timid, see yourself moving among people with ease and poise – and feeling good because of it. If you have been fearful and anxious in certain situations – see yourself acting calmly and deliberately, acting with confidence and courage – and feeling expansive and confident because you are.
This exercise builds new “memories” or stored data into your mid-brain and nervous system. It builds a new image of self. After practicing it for a time, you’ll be surprised to find yourself ’acting differently,’ more or less automatically and spontaneously – ’without trying.’ This is as it should be. You don’t need to ’take thought’ or ’try’ to make an effort now in order to feel ineffective or act inadequately. Your present inadequate feeling and doing is automatic and spontaneous, because of the data, real or imagined you have built into your automatic mechanism. You will find it will work just as automatically upon positive thoughts and experiences as upon negative ones.
2 ~ Take a Mini-Vacation in Your Mind
As you go through your day, when you aren’t focusing on something else, take a “mini-vacation in your mind.” This is easily done with practice. You simply create in your mind a wonderful place where you’re very happy. For some, this is a lovely, richly decorated palace; for others, it is a walk along a warm, clean, sandy beach at sunset with someone they love. For still others, it is a simple, yet beautiful room with a large, comfortable bed . . . and a big window looking out onto a pond and a garden of well-manicured trees and flowers. Wherever you go in your mind, that place needs to be seen in great detail. Touch the palace walls, smell the ocean, feel the soft pillow on the bed. Are you with me here? Can you visualize it? You can go on this mini-vacation whenever life gets stressful or you just need a mental break.
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale suggested,
Fill your mind with all peaceful experiences possible, then make planned and deliberate excursions to them in memory. You must learn that the easiest way to an easy mind is to create an easy mind. This is done by practice. The mind quickly responds to teaching and discipline. You can make the mind give you back anything you want, but remember the mind can give back only what it was first given. Saturate our thoughts with peaceful experiences, peaceful words and ideas, and ultimately you will have a storehouse of peace-producing experiences to which you may turn for refreshment and renewal of your spirit. It will be a vast source of power. (The Power of Positive Thinking)
3 ~ Heal Past Pain
The third way you can use this marvelous tool of visualization – to become your best self – is to heal yourself from past pain. Everyone who has experienced emotional pain and heartache knows that it is very real and extraordinarily difficult to forget. Although you cannot erase the past, you can help yourself heal with visualization. Here’s how: When a painful memory forces itself into your mind, label it with “Here it is” and then replace it with a thought about how the person should have acted. Instead of letting your mind re-play the experience as it was, use your power of visualization to imagine what it should have been like. Then focus forward as you extend the image into the future, but in a positive way instead of the way it ’played out’ negatively. Here’s an example of how you do this: A painful incident from the past comes into your mind and you think to yourself:
Here it is. I’m seeing my father hit me . . . but I am now reversing that and visualizing him walking into the room and we talk to each other. We don’t get angry, and he doesn’t hit me. After we talk, he hugs me and tells me he loves me. Dad, if you knew then what you know now – you wouldn’t have hit me. I forgive you, and I’m now thinking about how you love me . . . and about how our relationship is now. (If the relationship is good, that’s easy. If not, do this) I am thinking about how I would like our relationship to be . . . I’m thinking about how much more kind you are now. You know, this helps me with my resolve to be a good parent. I learned some good things from you, but I also learned about things I’ll never do to my children. So it wasn’t all bad . . . I learned, and now I’ll be a better parent because of you.
4 ~ Imagine Yourself in the Future
A fourth way you can use visualization is to imagine yourself in the future, doing something that you are going to do: a presentation at work; meeting with the boss; working toward a goal; achieving a goal; taking a vacation with your family; being patient/kind/forgiving, etc; visiting relatives during the holidays; and on and on. Again, you create mental pictures in your mind – in great detail. You imagine every part of the experience. Here is an example of what I do. I think to myself,
“I’m going to give this presentation to my department in 24 hours. I’ve prepared well, and I know the material. I will imagine what it will be like. I’m going to get up tomorrow morning with a positive, upbeat attitude and look forward to the presentation. I’ll put on my black suit, my hair will look great and I’ll feel really good about my appearance. I can see myself right now…yeah, I look good! After a healthful breakfast of orange juice, two eggs and whole wheat toast, I’ll go through the presentation highlights out loud, so it will be on the tip of my tongue. Then I’ll take my briefcase and drive to work calmly because I’ve left plenty of time to get there. As soon as I get to work I’ll email the department and remind them of the meeting. I’ll answer my mail and pick up my presentation hand-outs. On the way to the meeting, I’ll get a drink of water, and then confidently open the door of the boardroom. Inside, I see my colleagues looking at me with admiration and respect. I go to the front of the room and lay out my materials. I stand in front of the group confidently — with my shoulders back and smiling — anxious to begin. As I present, I am articulate and witty. I remember to speak slowly enough to be understood, and I patiently answer every question. My co-workers are interested in my information and enjoy the meeting. Afterwards, I thank them for their interest and participation and I graciously accept their compliments.”
Do you see how it works? Your success in manifesting the “ideal” outcome is built upon powerful laws of the mind; so, of course visualization works!
Now, what if something unanticipated goes wrong on the day of your presentation – the car doesn’t start, or during your presentation you’re asked a question you can’t answer, or the overhead projector didn’t work, or your co-workers were critical and unappreciative? Although you don’t expect those things to happen, you can prepare yourself mentally by thinking like this: “If something unfortunate happens, I’ll handle it calmly and stay in control.”
Imagine in Great Detail and Visualize Yourself as the Person You Want to Become
It’s important to understand that although your visualization necessitates high expectations for yourself, you have control only over your behavior. Your high expectations for ideal conditions and other people’s positive behavior may not ever be realized. For example, you might have to deal with traffic that you couldn’t anticipate, or rude co-workers who don’t appreciate you. Remember, that your responsibility lies in how you react to your challenges . . . the way you deal with problems. The tricky part is learning how to think, “I can only control what I do; their behavior is not my problem.” And then let it go; blow out the match before it burns you. Now, if things go wrong with your presentation, that’s another matter. You need to evaluate, learn, and use your mistakes as stepping stones to future success.