“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” — Albert Einstein
What if you could use your imagination to create the life you desire? Although we are often told to stop dreaming and get working, I think that dreaming is underrated. Everything starts with imagination—it is the basis for creating, not only physical things and works of art, but also the frameworks of our lives.
You’ve probably heard the phrase creative visualization, but what does that really mean? Simply put, creative visualization is daydreaming—but with intent. And there are many ways that we can put our imaginations to work for us in our lives. You may have heard of visualization techniques used by athletes and others to push through fears, get in the zone, and obtain greater success. All of which are great and useful!
But the creative visualization I am focusing on here comes before all that. We are going to take a step back and look at using creative visualization in the intention setting process, to tune into our emotions and uncover our limiting beliefs, and thereby build a solid foundation for our goals and intentions.
Define and refine
Before taking action towards our goals, we first need to define them. Creative visualization is useful in both defining and refining our goals and intentions. The first step is to relax and visualize the end result, the goal or intention that you wish to accomplish. Forget for a moment how you will get there, let go of the lists and plans, and just relax and enjoy the feeling of accomplishing whatever you are striving for.
Create a detailed scene in your imagination full of the sights, smells and sounds of your experience. Where are you? What are you doing? What are you wearing? Who is with you? Most importantly: How do you feel? Checking in with your feelings about the scenario you are creating is key to refining your goals. If your feelings are positive, and you feel great, go ahead and keep on enjoying your visualization of the future you are creating.
The role of emotions
Sometimes in creative visualization, negative emotions can crop up. For me these often manifest as anxiety, and indicate either that my visualization is not really in alignment with my true desire, or that I have limiting beliefs around my ability to have or achieve my intention. So some self-inquiry is in order to first determine the source of the negative feelings. If you feel like your goal needs some refining, you can simply play around with your visualizations, letting your imagination wander, until you get comfortable with the scenario.
Limiting beliefs can be a bit tougher to take on. To quote Abraham Hicks, “You cannot have a happy ending to an unhappy journey.” I apply this to my creative visualization practice—you can’t create a positive outcome with negative feelings and beliefs. You don’t have to believe in the woo-woo “intention manifestation” teachings of a channelled non-physical entity, either—it just makes sense that infusing our visualizations with negative feelings or anxiety isn’t a good start towards our intentions.
Pushing through negative feelings to “force” something we think we want doesn’t work, either. Believe me. I’ve tried. You can lie to yourself for a while, but your emotions will always keep you in check. You might as well get them on board from the get-go.
For me, bringing our limiting beliefs to our conscious awareness is one of the most powerful aspects of creative visualization. For example, I have recently been working on creating more financial abundance in my life. Some negative feelings were cropping up for me, which brought to my awareness some pretty strong limiting beliefs around money. These beliefs were 1) That money comes to me through other people’s suffering and 2) That people with money are controlling. So you can see how I may be self-sabotaging my own efforts to acquire financial abundance. I certainly don’t want anyone to suffer for me, and I don’t want to turn into a control freak.
Everyone carries around some limiting beliefs, picked up through childhood and beyond, and most people don’t even know they are there. But they can be powerful and run like gremlins in the background to sabotage our efforts. If we believe we don’t deserve something (or that it is bad, or that it will change us in a negative way), we won’t achieve it, despite our best efforts.
It takes some practice to connect with that part of ourselves where our gremlins hide, so don’t be too hard on yourself if the source of the feelings isn’t readily apparent. Try “sitting” with them for a while, with curiosity rather than judgement, and see where that takes you. Once negative or limiting beliefs have been identified, we can begin to question and transform them. I like to say that beliefs are just thoughts we have practiced, so practicing more positive thoughts, especially with the help of tools like affirmation and EFT/tapping techniques, is one way to transform limiting beliefs.
Anchoring and action
Anchoring is the final step that I always take in my own creative visualizations. While visualizing your goal or intention in your mind’s eye, feeling all the positive feelings that experience brings to you, take a look around the scenario you have created for something that “catches” your eye. Don’t think too hard about it, just look around and you will usually notice some object or memento that you can “bring back” with you to anchor this experience for you. As you move forward in the days and weeks following, bringing your anchor to mind will automatically bring you back to those positive feelings you have created, and help keep you motivated as you to move towards creating more of what you desire.
Of course all the visualization in the world won’t get you where you want to be without taking action. It is beneficial to take at least some small action towards your goal immediately following your creative visualization. This solidifies the experience for you, and gets the ball rolling towards the future you have envisioned. As you continue to take concrete actions towards your goals and intentions, keep yourself open to all the ways it could manifest for you.
If you are like me, you will probably notice that coincidences and reflections of your visualization abound. Perhaps it is the universe responding to your intention. Or perhaps you have just opened yourself up to noticing opportunities that would have presented themselves anyway. Go ahead and grab them either way.