Tag Archives: Imagination

Visualize Yourself To Victory

How To Change The Playing Field In Your Favor

I remember once, a long time ago, way back when I was in Junior High school, I was playing golf with a couple of friends after school. There was one hole that I always had trouble with. The first 80 yards or so, you had to hit your ball over part of a lake. The part of the lake that you had to hit over ended on the left edge of where the fairway would be, and to the right it only got bigger. Being a habitual slicer, I usually sliced off to the right, and into the water.

In order to get over the water hazard, I only had to hit a normal shot. My normal shot didn’t start to fade until about fifty to a hundred yards or so, which gave me enough distance to get over the water if I could ever hit a normal shot. My problem was that on that particular hole, I never hit a normal shot. My drive was rarely more then ten yards or so off the ground and sliced a lot earlier and more pronounced than normal, sending my ball straight into the large area of the lake.

From a pure physics standpoint this is easy to understand. If you flinch even slightly in the direction of lifting your head to see where the ball went, you’ll hit the ball just a little bit higher than normal, giving you less height, and in my case, more slice, as I twisted the club head just a little bit more than I normally would have.

The funny thing is that I lifted my head because I was unconsciously worried about slicing into the lake. And because I lifted my head, I sliced into the lake. My unconscious actions, (e.g. lifting my head up and turning the club head more than normal,) which were based on my fears, actually caused my fears to come true, rather than preventing them.

From a structural standpoint, it went like this: I had this fear about an outcome based on a planned action. My anxiety going into the action changed the action slightly, and became the direct cause of my fears coming true.

In this particular case, it was one off shot, so to speak. I hit it in the water; walked about halfway up the fairway, about even where my ball went into the lake (next to all my other balls) dropped a ball, took a penalty and went on my way. This was a one-time event, which in the end only increased my score by two. The rest of the course was wide and open, so I could slice all over the place and be OK.

Naturally, every time I teed up on that particular hole, I remembered all the other slices into he water, which of course increased my anxiety, and made it much more likely to repeat the error. But only being a golf game, and only being in Junior high school, I figured that was normal. Until my friend shared with me a powerful secret that I still use today, and you can to, to break out whatever rut you happened to be in.

This problem, often called a self fulfilling prophecy, can present itself in many ways, and the feedback loop can be much more debilitating that a couple of strokes on an afternoon golf game.

Suppose you are a single guy, and you see a girl you like. You walk up to her, introduce yourself, and she blows you off. Happens all the time right? Only next time you walk up to a girl, you remember the last one that blew you off, and it makes our approach less effective. You are nervous, can’t hold eye contact, and basically come across as kind of creepy. This makes you get rejected even more harshly, which in turns makes approaching another girl too scary to even contemplate. You have effectively locked yourself into a vicious circle of defeat, by using your worst possible past in order to hallucinate a likely outcome. The likely outcome terrifies you so much; it cripples your behavior, and virtually guarantees itself.

Another example. You go ask your boss for a raise. He turns you down. You become depressed, and your motivation to work hard decreases slightly, which in turn decreases your productivity a little bit. Next time you ask for a raise, your boss is even less likely to give you one, based on your productivity. If you get locked into this horrible tailspin, you may very well find yourself on the list of people who are expendable when budget cuts are mentioned.

One of the insidious things about these self-defeating cycles is that it is incredibly easy to blame others for your predicament. The guy who is approaching girls can blame women for being stuck up and not having the ability to see his true worth. Maybe they think he’s too short, or doesn’t make enough money. This can lead to a belief that all women are shallow and materialistic

The guy who never gets a raise can blame his boss, the economy, his coworkers for talking about him when he’s not around, and so on.

As difficult as it sounds, only when you take responsibility for your lot in life do you have a shot at bootstrapping yourself up and out of any vicious cycle of defeat you may find yourself in. Even though that often times others are culpable, some bosses do play favorites, and many people, both men and women, are shallow and materialistic, that doesn’t help you a bit. You can’t change the world, but you can change how you interpret it and react to it. That is completely in your control.

So one day, just as I was teeing up, my friend, says “Hey wait, before you hit, just close your eyes and pretend there is nothing but a huge patch of green grass in front of you.” I tried it, and it worked. I don’t think I ever hit another ball in the water after that.

The funny thing is that he didn’t tell me to visualize my ball bouncing on the other side of the lake, like most sports psychologists would have you do, or visualize how I’d feel when I hit it over the water. The advice my friend told me was to imagine the playing field, the course, was physically different than it really was. By imagining a different playing field, my actions changed automatically.

It’s so easy to argue until we’re blue in the face that “the playing field isn’t equal” and that others have advantages and opportunities that we don’t have. But what if you could simply hallucinate a more helpful playing field, and allow your actions to naturally respond to your hallucination?

What if before approaching some cute girl in a bookstore, instead of going through the difficult procedure of imagining a positive outcome, and planning his various openers, he simply imagined that all girls were irresistibly attracted to his type? There’s no rule that says your imaginations have to be true or accurate, only that they lead to behaviors that get you what you want.

And what if the guy in the office imagined he was the boss’s nephew, or that he’d pulled him out of a burning care a week earlier, or something else as ludicrous? Sure, it’s completely false, but what if it works?

Something to think about next time you’re gearing up to imagine yourself into a positive outcome.


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Imagining Words Can Be Reflecting Truth

Last night I was walking home from this bar. It was a bar I’d never been to before, but a few of my friends convinced me to go, since it was fairly new and didn’t have huge crowds. You could still hang out with a few friends, have a decent conversation, and enjoy the interesting international food they had. They also have about thirty different beers on tap from all over the world. It’s interesting when new bar opens up in a part of town that has lots of bars. If you start going there before it becomes popular, you are the only person there, so you feel like you are in the wrong place, even if you are with a group of friends. If you wait until it is the hippest bar in town, you can forget about every getting a table unless you go there at two in the afternoon. This place where I went last night was just at the perfect spot on a bars rise to prominence. Just the right amount of people to feel like you are in a popular spot, but not so crowded as to feel like each time you see the waitress she is in some kind of hurry to fill your order so they can make room for the next customer.

So after several drinks and appetizers of various ethnicities, we decided to part ways. I don’t remember what time it was, but it was later than the last train, so I had to find my way back to the main station to catch a taxi home. Since I was in an unfamiliar part of town, I kind of meandered around through alleys and side streets. I wasn’t too worried about what time I made it back, and crime in my cit is relatively low, so I just was kind of content to wander around and lazily make my way back home. You know how you do that, when you have a vague destination in mind, but you aren’t really concerned with how or when you will arrive. For some reason you just want to take your time with this, and enjoy the experience. Sometimes I think it’s times like this that are the most rewarding, because for some reason you can be open to opportunities that you would normally overlook.

Once I was driving to a friend’s house. He was having a party so I wasn’t really concerned with what time I got there. It was a bit of a drive, and he was a good friend from a ways back, so I knew there would be a couch or a spare room I would be able to use. So I was just taking my time driving through the mountain roads, stopping here and there to check out the views. He had just bought a nice house up in the mountains, and I had never been there before, so I wanted to take my time and enjoy the scenery along the way. Sometimes we go through life just too fast with tunnel vision, missing out on all the cool stuff that is around you.

So there I was looking through the windows of closed shops when I saw him. Or heard him, as he came up from behind me. Judging by his voice, he was a good 5 or six meters behind me, and I could see his vague reflection the glass of the retro clothing shop window I was trying to look through. (I don’t know why, I’ve never really been a fan of retro clothing.) He said something that was both vague and interesting. Vague in that I didn’t know exactly what he meant by it, and interesting in that I wanted to turn around.

“You can take small steps when necessary.” Is what he said.

“Excuse me?” I asked, turning around slowly.

“Small steps. I don’t know where you are going, how could I, but you seem to be going somewhere. Some people have a fear of moving in the direction of their destination, afraid that they will make a mistake. But you can take small steps if you need to. That way if you make a miscalculation of direction, you can easily change course to put yourself quickly back on track.”

“Oh, um, thanks.” I said, still not sure what he was talking about. He seemed to want to say something else, so I waited for him to speak.

“Awaken from the dream.” He finally said, after giving me a seemingly long once over.

“Huh? What dream?” I asked, checking the palms of my hands for some reason.

“That which you fear, that which you think you are afraid of, that which you think you lack, is all an illusion. You have everything you need. Right here, right now. You don’t need anything else. Everything you see comes from within.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of that, so for some reason I turned and looked back inside the vintage clothing. I was surprised to see that his reflection was no longer there. When I spun around, he was gone. A thousand questions ran through my mind. Was I imagining it? Had I drank too much? Was I too sleepy? Suddenly it hit me. Whoever, or whatever he was, it didn’t matter. It really didn’t matter, because I had a feeling that the words he spoke made sense. And when you think about it, the speaker of the words is really different than the words themselves. After a while, the words themselves are all that matters, so you can imagine this speaker as being whoever you want. And that can open the door to all kinds of opportunities. Now.

How to Create a MasterMind Group

I was re-reading Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” the other day. I was reading the part where he was describing his “imaginary master mind group.” If you haven’t had a chance to read that fantastic book, or if you haven’t read it in a while, I can’t recommend it enough. There are several free versions of it online, or you can go buy yourself a hard copy to take with you. Lately I’ve been reading snippets whenever I’m on the train, or hanging out in a coffee shop. I think it’s a great idea to always have a good book such as “Think and Grow Rich,” or other books of that nature to pull out and read this whenever you get a chance. It can really be helpful.

The “imaginary mastermind group” that Hill was describing was a modified version of his Mastermind Group idea. I don’t think the idea was his, most likely several people over the centuries have discovered the concept of synergy in a group. The basic idea is to get a group of people together, and collectively solve a problem. Business problems, social problems, political problems have all been solved in the past with the application of a mastermind group. The original framers of the United States Constitution is a particular good example of an effective and powerful mastermind group. Their efforts have proved to be valuable to many people over the years.

Sometimes, though, you don’t have a group of powerful individuals at your disposal to collect together and figure out how you are going to pay your rent, or write that report at work. Sometimes, you have to go it alone. Which is how the imaginary mastermind group comes in. You look through history, and get a collection of real, historical figures that you admire. It’s good to have a wide variety of disciplines. Doctors, scientists, orators, mystics, magicians, politicians, whatever. Come up with as many different specific fields as you can, and then choose on person from each one. I think Napoleon Hill had Darwin, Lincoln, Henry Ford, and Emerson, among others, in his group. Just choose anybody who exists, either currently, or historically that you’d like giving you advice and counsel.

Then at night, just as drifting off into sleep, gather your imaginary mastermind group together and have a meeting regarding the day’s issues. Make sure you are in charge, and each can only speak when you give them the floor. If you want, you can ask them questions regarding different problems you are having in your life, and the best way to solve it. You’ll be amazed at the insight they will offer. It’s important to release any weird feelings that you have about doing this, and allow your imagination to speak through them. It kind of gives your brain permission to look at things from a different perspective, and think of ideas you wouldn’t normally think of.

You can also imagine key members of your mastermind group going with you into certain situations. For example, if you have a big meeting with your boss, you can have a meeting with your mastermind group the night before. Whoever seems to give you the best advice, take them with you, and imagine they are standing behind you, whispering into your ear. (Just make sure not to turn around and say “Huh? What was that?” to them during the meeting.)

Hill even went on to say that after a few months of regular meetings with his mastermind group, they began to take on distinct personalities, and he had to stop because he feared they were becoming too real, even for him. So be careful, and don’t let your imagination run away with you. You don’t want to end up like that mathematician in “Beautiful Mind.”

Your brain is a fantastically wonderful and barely understood part of you that can offer up many different ways to get what you want out of life. The imaginary mastermind group is but one way to tap this fantastic source for whatever pleasure you want to easily achieve in life.


Paint Your Future Brightly

I was sitting in the barber shop this morning. I didn’t have to be anywhere until one, so I had my morning free. I usually get my hair cut with a number two blade, but there is one lady I like to go to at this specific barber shop because she does a really thorough job despite it being a rather easy haircut. I should cut my hair more often, but I tend to let it grow until it is a bit too long. Then after I decide to get it cut, I usually wait another two weeks. It’s kind of weird that way I do that sometimes. I know I have something that I need to do, and when I look at my schedule and see that I have some free time, I think “oh yea, then I can go and do…” The problem is, I often fill up my free time with activities that don’t really give me much benefit. It’s almost as if when I have a big block of free time, it gives me the luxury of procrastinating even more.

Not that procrastination is always a bad thing in every situation. I was at an art museum with a buddy of mine last weekend, and we were looking at all the paintings. He was actually going there to try and get a phone number from one of the girls that worked there. He kind of knew her, but wanted to go with a friend. He thought it would be too obvious if he showed up by himself, asked for her number, and then left. He thought that he would appear to desperate. After putting it off for a few weeks, we finally went. The way he was describing his plan, he made it sound like he was planning a jewelry heist or something.

One of more interesting paintings was one by a guy whose name I forgot. The guy painted it when he was well into his eighties, and it was his first work. They had little biographies of the painters under each painting, as none of them were world famous. This guy had wanted to be a painter his whole life, but as it said on the card “life kept getting in the way.” Some of the cards had just the basic biographical information, and other cards had a lot more. This had a message the artist wrote, which was kind of advice. It said as follows:

Gentle reader. Painting can be a difficult task. Sometimes you have a spirit in you that you have to release. If you cannot release it, you will lose it’s flavor forever. You must imagine the painting finished before you. You must imagine your future on that blank canvas of your mind, so that you can overcome any obstacles that stand you way. You must make the colors bright, and the images crisp. You must bring your future to the present, and  push out all that stops you.

The funny thing was that my friend read that quote probably twenty times. He was standing about a meter from the girl whom he wanted to ask out, and when he finally got the courage, she said yes. And when I asked him about the quote on the way home, he didn’t even remember what I am talking about.

And finally my barber came in, but because I was in such a hurry, she wasn’t able to do as thorough a job as she normally does. I’ll never make the mistake again of missing on one of her fantastic haircuts. I learned my lesson.


Follow Your Brains Advice to New Realities

If you’ve ever wondered about something that might have caused anxiety concerning an event that may or may not happen, I recently found out something that might help. For example, let’s say you have a meeting with your boss that afternoon. Something important, like your annual review, or you are going to ask for a raise or something else that you’d deem something a little bit less than a walk in the park.

If you are like most normal people, you might start to imagine all kinds of things that will happen. And I’m sure if you take the time to think back, now, about those times before when you used to imagine things that might come to pass, you might realize that they never did. Like if you had a big golf game or something with your boss’s boss, you might have imagined accidental hooking the ball into his head or something. Ok, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea.

And I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard the old saying “Most of the bad stuff that you imagine never happens.” Well, even if you understand that basic principle about the human mind, it doesn’t really help when you are laying in bed and are unable to sleep due the horrific images your brain keeps delivering to you against your consent.

But I was listening to this internet radio show the other day, and there were these two guys talking about the human mind and how it works. Unfortunately I didn’t remember which internet radio station I was listening to, as I was aimlessly surfing like I sometimes do.  Like when you are surfing around the web and find this really cool blog, and you think, wow you really need to read this everyday, but then you can’t remember where it is, so you can’t come back and read it everyday like you’d like to.

So anyway this guy was saying that when people imagine all those horrible things that might happen in the future, it’s really an evolutionary manifestation of a brain early warning system. It’s thinking about all the possible things that might happen, and just kind of giving you a heads up, so you can prepare for the worst. Then he said that if you pay attention to the messages that your brain is giving you, you can kind of imagine how you’d handle whatever situation that you were afraid might come up. As soon as you imagine handling it from a few different angles, it satisfies the brains warning system, and your brain will settle down.

And the other guy was commenting that is evidence of the other old saying: “If you can imagine it, you can create it.” Because why in the world would your brain imagine up something that wasn’t possible to come true? And that simply means, that you can use your anxiety as a starting point to create whatever future reality that you’d like. Just use your imagination to take care of whatever your brain is warning you about, and then just imagine the best possible outcome by preventing it from happening by doing the opposite.

For example, if you imagine your boss yelling at you for being late on a project or something, simply come up some really good reasons why the project is late, and then come up with a few benefits for the project being late, and then hit your boss with these benefits before he gets a chance to even remember that it’s late in the first place. He’ll not only see you as being proactive, which is highly valued in today’s economy, but he’ll think of you as somebody that he can depend on when things get rough.

And it all starts with  having a solid respect for the images that your brain delivers to you, all the time. Once you can tap BOTH the positive and the negative images, which you will start to realize aren’t so negative after all when you use this technique, your world will really open up.