There has been a lot of media attention lately about the power of visualization. It’s amazing to see how many people dismiss this concept out of hand as if it were some kind of ESP or new age mumbo jumbo. But a simple self-study shows just how often we all use visualization. Think about it—you’re walking to your favorite restaurant and thinking about the dinner you’re going to order. You imagine the dessert menu and your mouth starts to water. You’ve just had a real physical reaction to the picture in your head!
Or remember the last time you were stuck in traffic—your mind may have wandered to the meeting you were heading towards, and you imagined the person you were meeting with being angry or upset with you. You walk into the meeting expecting to be greeted coldly, so you set down your papers gruffly—your visualization has just set the meeting off on a bad foot!
So visualization is not as far-fetched as we sometimes think, and has real physical and relational results in the real world!
But how can this help our children and families? We believe that children who can imagine themselves to be successful and happy often ARE successful and happy! Children who are SURE that they are going to fail their math tests usually do, but the kid who wins the science fair has often already practiced her “trophy smile.” Of course we know that it’s not that simple—the science fair winner has done a lot more than smile into the mirror—she’s also put in a lot of thought and hard work into her project. And the child who fails the math test also struggles with concepts and study habits. But we really believe that visualization is part of it
Here are three easy steps to practice visualization by yourself or with your child:
1. Visualize: picture the result of your goal. Imagine the sights and smells; make it as real as possible. Spend some time creating this picture and then revisit it often.
2. Verbalize: tell someone, even if it’s yourself. Hear your voice verbalizing your goal—this will make it real to your conscious mind (saying it) and your unconscious mind (hearing it).
3. Share: maybe your friends or family aren’t supportive of your goal, or you’re too shy to share it with them. That’s fine! Put your goal in writing as a message in a bottle, or a note on a community billboard. Send an email to an old friend or a celebrity—share your goal with SOMEONE —who knows? Maybe they’ll have an idea how to help you reach it!
You and your child can work on this together—coming up with a vision of some desired outcome and then talking to each other about it. Keeping it alive between you will give you both energy and ideas for how to achieve the goal. You’ll be amazed as you watch your child’s problem-solving abilities and self-confidence soar!
Of course, this skill can also be applied to your own parenting skills—you can visualize yourself as a more serene or encouraging parent, then tell yourself about it, then share it with someone else. You’ll be putting the power of visualization to work for the whole family!