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  • BONUM Staff

Visualizing is Believing - The Power of Imagery

The imagination is the language of the subconscious. Inside your imagination, you have the power and freedom to be anywhere you wish and to do anything you choose. Learn to harness your imagination to create a safe, peaceful place as an action space in your mind using mental imagery. An action space is an environment sheltered from extraneous variables, where activity can be nurtured. Mental imagery is the representation and experience of sensory inputs without a direct stimulus.

Bio-informational theory suggests a strong connection between imagery and emotion because of the relationship between the visual cortex and memory. When compared with verbal content, imagery elicits a stronger emotion response and can have an amplifying effect. Given how the “realness” of imagery (or a lack of image production) can influence your beliefs, it is important to exercise caution when employing your imagination.

An autobiographical memory can influence future behaviors. Continually imagining a future situation negatively (e.g. a presentation going poorly) can increase the likelihood that your present and future will align with those images. Conversely creating a positive future image can rewrite your present negative autobiographical memory to be more positive and, therefore, influence both your past and future self toward positivity. Viewing goals with imagery or connecting imagery to a plan can increase confidence and belief that you can accomplish them. Mental imagery highlights the temporal nature of situations to reconstruct future beliefs about identity, which in turn increases goal setting and motivation.

Imagery exercises integrates your cognitive, emotional and somatic aspects, with primary focus placed on the emotional aspect. This aligns what you may rationally 'know' to be true, but are resistant to accept because of being 'emotionally stuck'. In addressing grief (see Unit 4), imagery allows you to revisit scenes that are connected with the loss and visualize a path forward. Positive imagery can help you confront impulses, pain responses, and the intrusive images connected to disorders like anxiety, PTSD, and OCD. In problem solving, imagery provides an opportunity to explore all sides of an issue, consider the emotional components of a decision, and visualize alternative outcomes. Taught as a skill, mental imagery connects different aspects of the brain through increased imagination and memory capacity.

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