Visualize Success through Your Future Self and Act As-If
Updated: Sep 29, 2019
“…When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The above quote is controversial, depending on whether you enjoy the work of Paulo Coelho or not. If not, then you probably find it cheesy and overused, perhaps even meaningless.
However, I hold this phrase very dear to my heart, albeit with a slight change in it- a two-letter change, to be precise:
When you really set your mind on something,
the whole youniverse conspires in helping you achieve it.
Your whole youniverse. You.
When you truly and absolutely decide that you want to improve, that is enough. And you can conspire with all your energy and force towards positive change.
Suddenly, in my view, the phrase loses its somewhat supernatural meaning, and becomes a potent psychological truth that may be the single most important element in promoting personal growth and success.
When we aim in changing anything dysfunctional in our lives and acting differently, there are so many philosophical and therapeutical approaches that teach us the know-how.
You can be in therapy for years, and maybe still find yourself stuck, as if positive change just does not happen for you.
You may want to achieve something bigger, for instance make a career change, get a promotion, establish your own business, develop emotional regulation, accomplish peace of mind, become more trustful to your partner, express better boundaries to others - you name it. Any change involves a conscious decision towards it, and a leap of faith that you can make it happen.
Any positive change towards progress and growth highly depends on this single truth:
How your Youniverse will conspire in assisting you to achieve it.
I was recently inspired by a conversation with someone wildly impressing in how he approaches his own goals. We were talking about what is absolutely necessary in order for someone to learn from his past mistakes and not repeat them; instead make better choices and move forward into progress and improvement.
What is fundamental, is a winning mindset, he said.
I rephrased it into having a clear implementation intention, meaning a crystallized and determined intention about actually succeeding in what we have set our mind on.
I soon realized these are different sides of the same coin.
The most significant factor in doing better is visualizing success and the desired results. That is really the number one motivation advice you can implement towards progress in any area of your life.
It is very much like a mental experiment, like I have mentioned in a previous article. What is needed for resolution of your problem, is that you connect with your Future Self that will already have achieved your goal.
Think of any goal you may have in your mind – it can be something regarding your emotional development, your personal progress, a career goal, a relationship improvement- just anything at all. The content doesn’t really matter for this experiment- what’s important is the method you will follow.
“What would it feel like if I could be more patient/ I could regulate my emotions more efficiently/ I could react more maturely? How would I feel? What would I think if I succeeded? How would others respond to me in similar situations?”
Visualizing Success and Envisioning your Future Self
Instead of endlessly pining that you are not yet anything enough (enter the desired characteristic to be improved), or repeating a set of rules about how you “should be doing better already”- that is completely counteractive, because it just fills you with shame and guilt about what you haven’t yet managed to achieve, instead of motivation and encouragement about where you want to go to- the change starts to form when you start envisioning your Future Self and visualizing how exactly it will be like, when you will have accomplished your goal.
Let's do this:
Close your eyes.
Think of your goal to achieve.
Slowly come in touch with your Future, Successful Self- your own Better Version, that will already have accomplished your desired goal.
What will it feel like if you will have achieved that deeply desired state of mind?
How will you feel then?
What will you think of yourself?
How do you think others will be responding to you and interacting to you , once you will have accomplished your goal?
How will you be acting towards others?
How will you feel when you will be seeing your reflection in the mirror?
Listen to your Body: There is a constant interaction between your physical, emotional and cognitive reality. Your Mind and Body are directly connected and not separate from one another. Observe how your breathing, heart rate, physical tension and other body sensations change, as you visualize positive changes that your Future Self will have achieved. Stay with those comforting sensations. Keep your connection to them active.
Try to be as observant as possible during this visualization, keeping a mental record of all possible details connected with your experience.
Think what you further need, in order to reach the desired state from your current state of Self
The Future Self or Better Self visualization is a powerful tool stemming from Positive Psychology. It has been proved to have multiple positive outcomes, such as enhancing relaxation, increasing optimism and hope in terms of expecting favorable outcomes, improving mood and our sense of well-being, and many more.
Our mind and imagination are truly powerful, and their strength should not be underestimated. By using our imagination, we can create dynamic scenes and new patterns of behaving , thinking and feeling.
This process can transpire new beginnings and help in gaining wisdom- that comes directly from your own resources.
Your Future Self can become a resource of instruction on how to accomplish the goal you have set your mind on, as well as the necessary steps to take in order to do so.
Your Future Self can therefore become a confidant, a mentor and an emotional comforter- your own Inner Resource to be used on your path towards Wholeness and Progress.
With regards to the process, what is crucial is to connect to the emotional state of your Future Self. When you think of just about anything that you are struggling with in your present, therefore your goal to actualize- How would you feel about yourself if you were to not bother about this struggle at all anymore?
No matter what your goal is, the emotional state related to its achievement is most probably one of inner peace, calmness, balance, sense of pride about yourself, relaxation, contentment and satisfaction.
If you did not struggle with this issue anymore, you would feel grounded and unrestricted- relieved and free of a burden. It would be like leaving some of your baggage finally behind you.
If you manage to connect with these highly positive and comforting emotions in your Now, then the subsequent change will already have started to manifest within you. It is all about aligning your emotional reality with your cognitive reality.
These positive emotions are directly linked to comforting physical sensations too. When you connect to how intrinsically good a change would feel to you, both to your emotions and to your body, then the links towards materializing this change are already created. Your thoughts in this direction will be inevitably easier to actualize as well.
You are now a step closer to your goal- and it is quite a significant one.
Next step, and building on your visualization of your Future Self, is that you start acting As-If . Acting as if you will have already succeeded.
Acting As If is a lot emphasized in the theory of Law of Attraction, but in different therapy modalities as well, such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (principle of opposite action), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Positive Psychology, Adlerian psychotherapy, and more.
I prefer to hold no judgement in any theory whatsoever, and instead inspect and explore how it can be useful and applicable to me personally, and to my clients in the office too.
Acting As If is greatly relevant to any therapeutic context, since is about manifesting change, provoking the outcomes that you want to see realized. It is reflective of the constructivist perspective, that states that we are the creators of our own reality.
The rationale for this reconstruction strategy is that as someone begins to act differently and to feel differently, they actually gradually become a different person.
The truth about change is that in many ways you can become different when you start acting as if you are different.
We attract what we project.
If you want to change anything in your life, you need to attempt to Be That Change Yourself.
If you project anxiety to the outside world, you will inevitably be attracted to situations that are prone to trigger your anxiety.
If you project insecurity in your relationship, you will somehow find yourself trapped often in a state that is insecure and fearful with your partner.
Take a moment and consider possible examples that are applied in your life. For instance, have you ever observed that others do notice what you reflect on them, and act accordingly to match your own state?
A great example is when you come across as relaxed, calm, when you fully feel comfortable to be yourself around others. Chances are that others respond more positively to you in those occasions as well.
In contrast, when you are in a more anxious state, others tend to feel less safe and relaxed around you- perhaps a bit uncomfortable or unsure about how to approach you. Naturally, you may perceive this as a threatening sign that something is not completely right about them, and the interaction between you will take a darker turn sooner or later, because your own projections about them will trigger relevant responses from them- which will further feed the negative loop you’re in… And down you go.
How Do You Act As If?
Acting as if does not mean that you are constantly in pretend mode. It is of uttermost importance to be authentic to your Self, with your Future Self in mind.
The key to be able to do this is a willingness to look beyond your current reality, determined in believing it will change. This does not mean you deny your current reality or are oblivious to it- but rather that you can look past it- how it will be when it is different. Conscious effort, self-observation and determination to continue even in the face of adversities is vital.
This should not be done compulsively- acting As If is more about letting go of predefined expectations of How the change will materialize itself, and more about faith and confidence in your Self, that you are truly and absolutely capable of bringing forth the desired effects towards positive change.
You absolutely cannot move forward if you are constantly restricting yourself and speaking to yourself in diminishing and devaluing ways.
The winning mindset is holding an affirmation that You Can Do Better. That you are in the right direction on your path to success and progress.
Whenever a trigger may be holding you back, remind this mantra to yourself : Act As If.
How would you act, if you were not obstructed with this current problem? How would you be feeling?
Try to activate the visualization of your Future Self.
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that guarantees constant success. The road will be rocky, and you are bound to be faced with endless triggers that will activate your old, dysfunctional patterns.
However, If you manage to repeat the mantra “Act As If” whenever encountered with a triggering external situation, every time you will be strengthening the mental connections you have with your Future Self. After all, our brain does change every time we visualize practicing new behaviours.
Neuroscience research holds ample evidence that the process of visualizing creates the same feelings and biochemical reactions in your brain, as if you were to actually already have experienced whatever it is you are visualizing.
What truly matters is to break the cycle of dysfunctional patterns of the Past and start acting in new ways, towards becoming the person you are meant to be.
If you have practiced the mental experiment described in this article, I urge you to remind yourself the phrase “Act As If” next time when you are triggered. You will probably be surprised to discover, that the change in your mood and your perspective will be immediate.
Try it out!