5 ‘rules’ of visualisation – a powerful tool, when WE are ready to use it!

If we are always going to be thinking something, and creating pictures/images in our mind, it is probably a good idea to have some kind of say over the content… after all, we all know how easy it is for our mind to behave as if it has a will of its own, completely independent of us!

So, if we regularly engage in conscious, aspirational thinking and imagery, we are surely helping ourselves to feel more hopeful about our future, and more inspired by our life in general? A much admired television personality has expressed the view that it is wrong to encourage people to believe that they can change their lives by indulging in visualisation techniques, but I think that that might have more to do with his personal beliefs, than concern for others. Having said that, I can see (and have seen), how disheartening it can be for those who are desperate to create or attract something they so badly want and need… only to find that no matter how many affirmations they chant, no matter how often they visualise, nothing much changes at all: from that point of view, I can understand where he is coming from.

The question is, is the answer to “does visualisation work?”, a black and white, all-or-nothing, yes or no response? Absolutely not… but there are productive and non-productive ways to go about it (is my opinion!), and little ‘rules’ that can benefit us, if we understand and follow them.

I first began practising visualisation, in a hugely unpolished way, around 35 years ago. I read about it in a newspaper article, and jubilantly thought, “at last, here is that magic wand I have long been seeking, that is going to quickly and easily transform my life!”.

Fast forward, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years… and I am still skint, still slogging away, still waiting for the big break. I had, throughout that time period, been very lucky in many ways; some good soul would always pop up to bail me out, just as I was just about to go over the edge (which was often), but I never managed to get beyond the point of survival. Every now then, motivated by desperation, I would return to attempting to visualise more money (which I believed would solve everything), only to find that things tended to become worse! I remember travelling on the train, heading out to attend a booking for a group of customers, with all of the money I possessed in the whole world (less than £5) in my purse… which was placed inside my wide open handbag, on the seat next to me. As the train pulled in to the station, I went to pick up my bag, only to realise that my purse was not there! I panicked, and, becoming tearful, cried out, ‘my purse has gone! What am I going to do?’. I still had to take a bus to the customers’ house, but now had no money for the fare! A fellow passenger informed me that a young man had walked past my seat, whilst I was looking out of the window, reached down, and ‘grabbed something’… what? NOW you tell me? I cannot remember what happened after that, but somehow I did manage to keep the appointment, and return home with a small but well-earned amount of cash in my purse (pushed to the bottom of my now closed handbag, nestled safely in my lap), but also with a familiar, deep-seated, sick feeling of defeat. If you had asked me, at that moment in time, whether or not I believed that visualisation ‘worked’, I would probably have said, “not for me, it doesn’t. For the lucky ones, for the chosen few, maybe… but for me, hell no!”

Fast forward to about 6 months ago. One afternoon I picked up and opened my purse, and was struck by a sudden jolt of deja vu… as I realised that what I was seeing with my eyes was exactly what I had been picturing in my mind, over a long period of time… and I was blown away! No, the magic fairy hadn’t paid a secret visit overnight, depositing a chunk of cash into my purse; the money had recently come from a completely unexpected source, but I was only just putting the dots together. Not millions, for sure, but more than I had before, and a very welcome and useful addition. I had repeatedly been picturing images in my mind, of a purse plump with money, and healthy looking bank and Paypal accounts… and here it was now, manifest! Oh, I had a little wobble, a sudden wave of fear (am I worthy of this??), but I quickly and consciously jumped on it from a great height, expressing immediate and immense gratitude to the great, creative force of life (call it God, the Universe, or whatever else sits well with you), and the individuals who had played their part – and I will continue to do so, every single day. I also realised that it was up to me to capitalise on this gain, to use it to create further abundance in my life – to keep the energy of positive manifestation flowing, rather than just depositing and drying up!

So… what changed? Me – that’s what. My early attempts at visualisation were dry, without any real substance behind them, and motivated more by desperation than inspiration. If my ‘abundance mentality’, at that time, had been compared with something physical, it would have been a soggy lump of flesh, devoid of a skeleton. I didn’t believe… I couldn’t feel it, and I definitely didn’t think I was worthy of a comfortable, fortuitous life. And I was consistently making decisions that were counter-productive, and based entirely upon a survival mindset. I had to begin to heal my incredibly poor abundance mentality, before I could accept abundance. I didn’t know that then, of course, and even when I did start to recognise it, I still had a huge amount of ground to cover. The good news is, though, that ground that is gained cannot be lost, even if sometimes there are holes in the road, or brick walls to figure out and step around.

So, here are some of the helpful ‘rules’ of visualisation to consider, and maybe even utilise (in no particular order!):

1) It has to feel ‘real’ – it has to make some kind of sense to us. If I visualise myself as a Formula 1 racing driver, competing in and winning races, I am doing nothing more than indulging in a pleasant daydream; I know for sure that there is about as much chance of me jumping to the moon and back, as there is of me becoming an F1 driver… for solid, practical reasons. I might be able to achieve a very watered down version, such as getting to sit in an F1 car, or ride as a passenger in a two-seater version, at a promotional event (both of which I’d LOVE!), but as for the big dream… it ain’t going to happen, and I would be wasting my time and energy trying to visualise it into life!

2) We have to ‘believe’ – we cannot consistently follow up a positive affirmation with a negative thought or statement. Well, we can, but we would only be wasting our own time. We can only create something we believe has the possibility to exist. Say, for example, I wanted to design, cut out and sew together a ball gown, but I didn’t believe that I was capable of such a thing; I would either start it, and give up at the first hurdle, or not start it at all. I might say that I want to attract the perfect partner, through visualisation, whilst consistently reminding myself of all of my past romantic disasters, and all of the reasons I won’t/can’t trust. As the old cliche goes, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t not believe and believe, at the same time!

3) We have to be patient – we have to become aligned with whatever it is we are attempting to visualise into physical existence. We have to be willing to be consistent and persistent. Some events/circumstances may take shape and form more quickly than others, dependent upon where we are in our mindset, and upon the nature of the desire. I was consistently attracting enough to survive, because I was operating from a survival mentality. However, I had to evolve not only from where I was at, but also the nature and quality of what I was visualising… and I had to keep on going, until I became aligned with it.

4) We have to put colour into our visualisation, and emotional energy. We can chant and imagine, with all of the passion of someone reading names and addresses from the telephone book, but it won’t leave any impression upon our own mind, or the creative energy of life. And we shouldn’t just limit our visualisation to the times at which we are meditating (if we meditate). We need to allocate little pockets of time, throughout the day, to bringing to mind that which we are determined to create energetically, so that it can then begin to manifest physically. And we need to bless it, with pleasure and anticipation!

5) We have to be open to the ways in which our desired outcome might show up in our lives. I had believed that a boost of income could only come about through my work, or maybe, hopefully, possibly… a lottery win (I kept playing, having the very occasional, tiny win… and a lot of disappointment!). I was willing to work hard, but felt restricted by a) being a sole trader, and b) the nature of my work; I believed that I couldn’t humanly double or triple the number of clients I worked with each day (even if I could attract them), because of the high degree of mental and emotional energy required. However, when my finances took a turn for the better, I was able to recognise that the ‘good luck’ had at least partially come about as a result of work that had gone before…and I was obviously now ready to accept it. And I also realised that I had been selling myself cheap, working far harder than I needed (or deserved) to, and that if I didn’t value myself and my skills, how could I blame others for not doing so? I deleted my mailing list, stopped giving ‘special offers’, and increased my prices. Within months, I was working fewer hours for the same amount of money, freeing me up to develop other business ideas! And all of this, without a lottery win!

To finish, I thought I would share this interesting, entertaining YouTube video with you:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have the power to start feeling better NOW – that HAS to be worth smiling about!

I was looking at some pictures of myself and my partner, taken around 5 years ago, and I was disappointed to see how much my face had aged. I gazed at my straight-faced reflection in the mirror, and it suddenly struck me… what was missing was my smile! I grinned warmly into my own eyes, and then glanced back at the pictures… and was heartened to see that, actually, there wasn’t a huge amount of difference between the younger me, and the current, older me. Some ageing, yes; a plumper face, agreed – but the smile somehow negated enough of that to be reassuring!

Now, I understand, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that a smiling face looks more alive and vibrant than one adorned with a serious or vacant expression: however, I suddenly became acutely aware of how my face felt, when I wasn’t smiling… and the word that immediately came to mind was droopy… and who the hell wants to feel droopy? It is hardly high energy!

So, I decided to check up on myself, every now and then, and ask, “what is my resting face saying about me right now?”. I already suspected that smiling wasn’t just about appearance – and my little experiment proved me right. When I recognised that I was sporting a switched-off or frowning expression, and swapped it for a comfortable smile that also reached my eyes (yes, you can feel your eyes smiling!), I actually felt more cheerful. And not only that, my head and shoulders automatically lifted a little – an instant boost that cost nothing more than a bit of self-awareness!

Okay, it is true that there are certain circumstances under which a smile is completely inappropriate (not too many, but some); and there are certain circumstances under which even the most upbeat individual would struggle to muster even the slightest twitch of the lips; I am not talking about those times – I am talking about general, every day life. And I acknowledge that a consistent, manic grin would be more likely to cause ourselves to feel a bit crazy and uncomfortable, and other people to avoid us like the plague. But, a small, relaxed smile, hovering at the corners of our mouth, just waiting to blossom into something wider and warmer, can genuinely do wonders for our state of mind! And when we feel that a smile is maybe not entirely appropriate at a given moment in time, we can still be consciously aware of how our face is sitting, and what message it is imparting. We can appear attentive, or curious, or interested, or fascinated, dependent upon the circumstances; all of these, and more, will actually help us to feel what we are expressing, whilst allowing our face to appear animated and lively. I am not a scientist, but online research appears to confirm that there is a growing belief in the theory that our facial expression and body language are recognised by our brain, which then responds accordingly, communicating that information back to the body.

Which brings me to the subject of how we consistently hold our body… and this cute cartoon that really makes me laugh, every time I see it!

depressedstance

Posture, like facial expression, speaks volumes to our brain, as does our consistent inner and outer dialogue. I have come across people who habitually slouch, and consistently communicate in a dismissive or cynical way… and none of them have been even remotely happy or satisfied. Circumstance is often blamed, and yes, it is true that it definitely does affect how we feel and behave; however, we have all witnessed individuals who have faced the most dreadful adversity, yet who hold their heads high, whilst approaching the world with dignity and warmth (we are so fortunate, to have amongst us those souls who are living proof of just what we human beings are capable of aspiring to!).

Where my own body is concerned, over a period of two years I put on around 28 lb in weight, most of which settled on my stomach and hips (one of the side effects of reaching a ‘certain age’!). I became discouraged, and for the first time really struggled to motivate myself to do anything about it. That wobble drove me mad, and I began to avoid any mirror that reflected anything below my chest… I felt fat. I managed to lose 7 lbs, but still, not enough to reduce the dreaded spare tyre. As it happens, my eldest daughter is a fitness and kick boxing instructor, who runs her own school; my youngest daughter also trains there, and teaches some of the classes. Several times a week I would drop her off and collect her, calling in to help put the equipment away after the sessions… but I always resisted taking part, because I was ‘too fat’ (yes, really!), which both of my daughters thought was ridiculous!

One evening, I stayed to watch the kick boxing gradings, from the toddlers all the way up to the adults, and I was blown away. The atmosphere was amazing, and I was totally impressed to see how much progress the students had made… and I suddenly really wanted to be a part of it! That evening, I committed to training, and there I was, at the very next session. At first, I felt like a galumphing (I think I just made that word up) elephant, and the idea of roundhouse kicks terrified me. I had a stiff, incredibly painful shoulder, and a dodgy knee, and I feared that they would hold me back… but the physiotherapist told me that actually, I was doing the very best thing for myself – and he was right! Almost three belts on, my shoulder is 90% better, and my knee just aches sometimes, and my roundhouse kick is coming along nicely! I even attend some of the circuit training classes now, in addition (last night I did three 30 minute sessions, one after the other!). I am still ‘fat’, but the weight is coming off, bit by bit. And I am not saying that it is easy, because it isn’t, and I am not saying that things don’t hurt after training, because they do. However, my body feels so much stronger, and I cannot emphasise enough how empowering that is! It has improved the way I hold myself, and more importantly, it has transformed the way I feel about myself… and that makes me smile!

So, if you recognise any of this within yourself, make an immediate commitment to yourself, to lift your spirits, your shoulders, your chin, and the corners of your mouth… until it becomes as natural as breathing!

 

The pain and anguish of female guilt… but maybe it isn’t ALL bad!

I know for sure that it isn’t just me; I am not the only woman who consistently beats herself up for a roll call of self-proclaimed ‘crimes’ that she just can’t let herself off the hook for. But I am working on it, and if you can relate to what I am wittering on about, I invite you to join me!

Here are the main sources of my guilt:

my children

my work

my diet and fitness

my lack of wisdom in the past

My children: I often think that they have developed into the amazing human beings they are today despite me and their father, rather than because of us! I have a gaggle of memories I dredge up every now and then (when I am in danger of feeling too self-satisfied!), to remind myself how easy it is to mess up. One of these sackcloth moments involves a shelf unit with plants on the top, water streaming down onto the carpet, and a plastic water pistol, which I angrily snapped in half… only to remember that I myself had not long since watered the plants – well, drowned them would be more accurate – and the soggy rug was down to me. In my defence, I had had to issue warnings about where the water pistol was being fired, but still… the sight of three disappointed faces broke my heart.

And I have just realised why, after all of these years, that this little episode still feels raw; whilst typing this, another memory floated up from the depths of my subconscious: an image of my domineering father, red faced with rage, jumping up and down on toys received at Christmas, and tearing up books… because he believed that one of us had opened his razor blades, and no-one would own up to it. And then he remembered that he himself had opened them, and tried to turn the whole thing into a bit of a joke. Uncomfortably, the biblical quote, ‘the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the sons’ (or in my case, daughters) immediately comes to mind. The ridiculous thing is, none of my children have any recollection of this event (well, not consciously, at least!), and I can see now that it has always been more about me than them… damn, something else to feel guilty about!

Then there has been the guilt attached to lifestyle: working full time when they were little; never having enough money to provide them with the things a lot of their friends had; moving house so many times; ending up in escalating conflict with their father; making decisions that were not always the wisest.  I remember a young woman once telling me that all she wanted was to have a baby, and to have no worries in the world; I laughed and said ‘good luck with that one!’. The second we give birth, we are signing up for a lifetime of love and joy, but also one of anxiety and guilt – because we are now completely responsible for the survival and well-being of another soul, another human being… and it is hard to know when to quit that anxiety and guilt! Even today, though they are in their twenties, if one of them is unhappy, my initial reaction is to feel responsible, somehow – which drives them mad! My daughters regularly tell me how proud they are of me, and how much positive stuff they have learned from me, and I am so, so proud of them, too (and my son, of course, but he doesn’t ‘do’ mushy conversations!). Unnecessary guilt is usually connected to our own feelings and beliefs about ourselves, and about not being good or adequate enough. I recognise that, and I have, I am pleased to say, already made a smidgen of headway!

As for the rest of the guilt, it isn’t all entirely bad. From a positive point of view, it has caused me to strive to become an even better version of myself, career and fitness wise (both still being a work in progress!). Career wise, I have had to consistently analyse my delivery and presentation, asking myself if I could do better, if I could have handled this or that customer in a more effective way… and if the answer is yes, then I have take it on the chin and learn from it. If there are aims and goals I claim I want to achieve (which there are, for sure!), and yet I am flopping around watching television, I need to feel guilty, for my own benefit, otherwise it all just boils down to hot air!

On the other hand, when someone expects of me the earth, the moon and the stars, and I am only able to deliver the equivalent of a small country, feeling guilty is misguided and destructive, and an immediate sense of perspective is required. And I promise you, there will be plenty of opportunities to put this to the test!

Where the past is concerned, I have to remind myself that the deal that life makes with all of us is that we can only ever obtain wisdom in hindsight, and that experience will always come first; and also, wisdom is not an automatic result of experience, it has to be sought out and allowed in. My children, and yours, are entitled to their own set of experiences, including disappointment and periodic unhappiness, so that they too can ultimately claim their wisdom! And as a wise man once said (I think it was Les Brown), if you know for sure that you wouldn’t repeat an act that you now regret, it hasn’t been a wasted experience, and you’ve come a long way!

P.S. By the way, I am not saying that men live guilt free lives… only that there is a certain kind of guilt that appears to be more common amongst women!

guilt