How do we really create change in our life?
Real, lasting, meaningful change.
It’s easy to say “Be the change you want to see in the world” and “You create your own reality”.
But until you know the practical steps behind these statements it all seems like rhetoric.
The thing is, we actually do it all the time. We create our reality with our thoughts.
What if I tell you right now that you have to give a public speech to an audience of 200 people next Wednesday?
Some of you will think, “Ok, Wednesday, no problem, it’s in the diary.”
Most of you will have an immediate fear reaction.
“Oh sh**, I hate public speaking, I’m no good at it, I get too nervous.”
Even thinking about it your breath shortens, you heart beats a little faster, your hands get cold and your shoulders tense.
Suddenly nothing exists except Next Wednesday.
No Wednesday evening.
Just Next Wednesday.
And so you get to next Wednesday, step out on stage, and your body already knows the right response.
Short breath. Beating heart. Cold extremities. Tense shoulders.
That’s what you have mentally been preparing for all week long.
You have given your unconscious clear instructions.
You have imagined yourself, seen yourself, pictured yourself as a nervous wreck when you step out on the stage.
You have mentally created the reality right from that first moment, and strengthened it throughout the week.
Etai has worked with people who have the same thought process around food.
The thought of stepping into the kitchen feels like going into a war zone.
At the thought of chocolate or sweets they see themselves weak and powerless.
Powerful images for the unconscious.
So how do we change that?
I’ve been working with the power of imagination for years.
One of the most powerful experiences I had was in 2009.
I was working as a nurse in a hospital in the north of Australia, studying Aboriginal language and culture, doing my own practice of yoga and meditation and connecting with nature regularly enough.
Life was pretty good.
But some part of me was not satisfied.
I had the feeling that I wasn’t living my life’s purpose.
My everyday job of dishing out medications was completely at odds with my core beliefs about the nature of healing.
And so one day in the middle of the build-up I went out bush. (Translation of that Australian slang: And so one day in the middle of the hot, humid pre-monsoonal season I went to a sparsely inhabited area outside of the city.)
After hiking a kilometer or two alongside a small stream through the sub-tropical bush I cooled off with a swim in the secluded waterfall and natural pool.
With no one else in sight or earshot, I sat down to meditate on my heart centre and clear my mind.
From that clear and centred space I gathered my journal and pen, and drew out little images with stick figures and symbols of what I want in my dream life.
I didn’t hold back.
I didn’t question myself.
I didn’t let myself get taken away with thoughts of whether it was too far out or not big enough.
Six images came out on that small journal page.
And when I looked at them I thought, “Yeah, that would feel pretty good if this was my life. Maybe in 5 or 10 years it will happen.”
I kid you not, 6 months later aspects of this vision became a reality in my life.
They started very small, so small that you could almost dismiss them or laugh at how unlike the ultimate dream they were.
But they were there. And I acknowledged them with gratitude.
One year later three of these goals were a full blown reality,
two were there in some ways and
one was off the list because it didn’t resonate any more.
Of course, having the vision wasn’t the only factor in creating the reality.
We don’t subscribe to the notion that if you just imagine something it will happen.
Being able to imagine the feeling of yourself in the situation and imagining the process is vital.
And you have to actually take the steps to put the dream into action.
But research has found that if you have a goal and vision yourself doing those steps towards it, then you are more likely to actually follow through on them and turn your goal into a reality.1,2,3.
So this was a big one, my “dream life” vision.
And it also applies to the small details of everyday life.
How would that public speech go when you can imagine yourself with regular breath and strong voice, feeling relaxed and confident?
What will your day be like when you can see yourself saying no to that chocolate or just taking the amount that feels good for you, feeling in control and at peace?
So it turns out to be true that “your imagination determines your reality for tomorrow”.
You just need to know how to use it properly.
Leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear where you are at with this.
- Seeing Future Success: Does Imagery Perspective Influence Achievement Motivation? Noelia A Vasquez Roger Buehler.Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin October 2007 vol. 33 no. 10 1392-1405
- On Means and Ends: The Role of Goal Focus in Successful Goal Pursuit. Alexandra M Freund & Marie Hennecke. Current Directions in Psychological Science April 2015 vol. 24 no. 2 149-153
- Age-related differences in outcome and process goal focus. Alexandra M Freund, Marie Hennecke & Michaela Riediger. European Journal of Developmental Psychology 2010, 7 (2), 198–222
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