This winter has been fraught with bouts of 18-in piles of snow and arctic temperatures not only in my neck of the woods but in other parts of the country as well.
When it seemed unbearable and SAD (seasonal affective disorder) was knocking on my door, I set forth in motion a series of visualization exercises that would help me cope with the winter doldrums. I began writing a series of articles on warm weather destinations to give me something to look forward to. After all, depression can be defined as “a state where the afflicted cannot imagine or construct a future for himself/herself.” Therefore a healthy mental disposition, when confronted with a crisis, can visualize a path on that road that will lead to greener pastures and a brighter tomorrow.
According to self-esteem experts and psychologists:
“Research has shown that the same neuro-pathways in the brain are activated when you vividly imagine experiencing something as when you actually do it.
Using your mind to create an image of what you want creates a strong impression on the brain and helps improve performance and get results.
Some examples they cite are:
#1. A waitress who says “How about a slice of our famous hot apple pie with scoop of our homemade vanilla ice cream and topped with fresh delicious whipped cream?” has a better chance of getting the desert order than a waitress who says “How about dessert?”
In the first example the waitress is painting a vivid picture in the customer’s mind. This picture activates the customer’s salivary glands to produce a strong desire for the desert. Did you salivate as you read the first waitress’s description of the dessert?
#2 Athletes apply this principle when imagining having won a competition prior to the actual event. Olympic swimmers, like Michael Phelps, imagine themselves swimming with webbed hands and feet to improve their performance in the water.
Just as visualizing a desired result can make your mouth water and produce results for athletes it is a proven tool for success to build, boost and improve your self-esteem.
Last night as I watched a special episode on Robin Roberts (Good Morning America tv anchorwoman) journey as a cancer patient, one of the things that stood out for me was her application of visualization techniques in her healing process. As she lay in isolation in the hospital for treatment of pre-leukemia, she had posters of Hawaii on the walls of her hospital room to remind her of destinations she loved and aspired to visit in the future.
And now a year after her ordeal she is back in the anchor chair, with Hawaii not just an aspirational destination but now a trip she can actually go on.
Personally, the most successful people I know are the ones who may not have used vision boards or actual pictures or images of destinations and aspirations, but nonetheless had very clear visions in their minds of what they aspired for in their lives. Because it is only when you have that vivid picture in your mind of what it is you want to achieve in life that it will become your reality.