Lasting Change

Visualizing the Future You Want. Mental image may be a major reason so many dieters subsequently undo their own success. PSF

By Hara Estroff Marano, published on November 1, 2002 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

It's time to start practicing the skills that will help you create the life, health and love that you really want. Last issue you got to design the future you really would love to have. Now get ready to start bringing it closer to reality by visualizing it.

Visualizing the life you want does four important things.

•First, it gives you direction. If you don't know where you are going, you will probably wind up someplace else.

• It is literally the source of motivation so you can do what is needed to create what you want. As Einstein said, "What you can conceive and believe, you can achieve."

• It provides clarity about what changes you need to make in your life.

• And it illuminates the roadblacks that have held you back from getting what you want until now. These may be doubts about your ability to get what you want, beliefs that you really don't deserve good things in life, like a flower believing it doesn't deserve the sun, or fears that the changes you want won't happen because perhaps you've tried 20 or 30 times before.

Once you identify the obstacles in your path, you can fix them. So as you go through the following future-visualization exercises, note your doubts, fears, and disbeliefs. Maybe it's some variation of "I want to be healthy and trim and having a great life but I don't think I deserve it." The next installment in this series on Lasting Change will help you overcome the roadblocks.

Every wisdom tradition holds that we can create our own fate and encourages us to use our imagination to create it. And in the last 40 years, the power of visualization has been proven to literally change physical reality. Medical studies show that visualization can create an increase in specific types of blood cell. High-caliber athletes consistently use visualization as a form of mental rehearsal to give them the winning edge. Visualization accesses powers you already have inside you.

Visualizing is natural as breathing, contends Ti Caine, a certified hypnotherapist and life coach in Sherman Oaks, California. It consists of pictures and feelings-the brain's primary language.

And yet, Caine says he can't count the number of people who insist, "I am not creative, I can't visualize, I can't meditate." Yet, he says, we're already visualizing every moment of every day. And the belief that we are powerless and life has to be a struggle is just a culturally induced hypnotic suggestion that can be changed. Such people are using the very skills they say they don't have to convince themselves that they don't have them!

Some people resist visualizing, afraid of accessing dark scary stuff in their subconscious. But of course there's scary stuff there, says Caine; everything we've ever seen, felt or imagined is stored there, like a huge video library. But they're just movies, and visualization is like taking back control of the remote.

His Future Visioning process helps you create new movies of the life, love and success you really want. Consider this. Studies show that it takes about 12 to 18 months for people who lose weight quickly to change their mental image of themselves to that of a thinner person. The failure to change their mental image may be a major reason so many dieters subsequently undo their own success. Changing your mental image first, by visualizing that future, paves the way for success.