Visualizing, imaging, vision maps and vision boards —affirmations, self-talk, self-image and body image. This is the language of the mystical psychology of Creative Self-Improvement. It is a quasi-scientific method of remaking one’s self into a new and better model, devoid of the mistakes and defects of our past and present. With its use, we can become a new self, healthier, happier and more successful with new traits and characteristics. This transformation is not simply a matter of maturation or application of will power. These are techniques and practices that anyone can learn and apply to achieve predictable results.

In the last half of the last century, the scientists who study the way human beings learn, behave and think began to see parallels between the operations of mechanical brains (computers) and the human brain. After all, both “brains” are comprised of massive systems of switches that channel the flow of energy, and the electricity or energy ends up turning on one program or another, depending on which pathway the switching takes. With one pathway, hitting the “enter” button makes a light or motor turn on. With another, it’s turned off. In computers, programs determine the pathway of the energy and what is turned on and off. How does this work in our human computer, our brain? What determines which programs are run, what gets turned on or off? For instance, in the brain, how do you hit the “enter” button that makes you want to abstain from eating, as opposed to craving something to eat?

These scientists believe that the activity of our brain, mind and body is triggered by our thoughts or imagination. Imagining, picturing, or thinking of a thing is the equivalent of hitting the “enter” button on the brain’s programs to make what you imagine become a reality. Then, all the systems within your mind and body begin working to accomplish the mission.

Therapists trained in biofeedback and hypnosis can show you how powerful your thoughts are in immediately causing changes in your body and behavior that you never knew you were capable of. You can learn to lower or raise your blood pressure and pulse with your thoughts, or change the skin temperature of your extremities. You can train yourself to be feel nausea at the sight of a food that formerly made you swoon.

Hypnotherapists and their clients report impressive results when engaging in relaxation sessions where the clients are led to vividly imagine themselves easily quitting smoking, being repulsed by the smell of smoke and being happy and relaxed as a non-smoker. Many leave the office, tossing their cigarettes, and having no desire to smoke. Overweight people are led to imagine themselves at their ideal weight, getting thinner day by day, easily following a weight loss regimen with no appetite at all. We are encouraged to “see” ourselves successful, told that we need to develop a fit body image, and that when we do this, our unconscious mind will do the work for us. Sometimes it seems to work like magic, but too often, it seems to have little effect, if any, or the effect wears off shortly and we return to our old ways.

The problem is not that visualizing at the hypnotherapy session or in our morning meditation doesn’t work. It works. Rather it is what we are thinking and imagining the other 23+ hours that our unconscious mind will be working on the majority of the time. If it is thoughts of ice cream or a self image of corpulence, the once-a-week sessions or five minute exercises will be seriously outmatched, negated in fact, as if they never were. It is what you are thinking about and imagining most of the time that will determine what programs are turned on and off and the results you will have.

This is why your beliefs are of such enormous power. Your beliefs are the thoughts and imaginings that are running 24/7, the “default settings” that you invariably and unconsciously turn to when you aren’t at the appointment or practicing some deliberate mental imaging exercise. If you believe that no matter what you do you’ll invariably return to being overweight, that it’s in your DNA or genetics and you are naturally fat, then that’s the self and body you’ll imagine 24/7 as you think about everything you do everyday. As you move through your day, you cannot help but think about what you are doing, and the self you think of will be the one you believe you are. Your self image and body image are shaped by your belief.

If you believe you are a loser, that other people have what it takes but you don’t, then that’s the self you’ll imagine 24/7, whenever you aren’t deliberately practicing “visualizing”. Then, the programs your brain will run are the ones that will make “loser” a reality.

This is why your faith and world view are so important. Those who believe that they are an inseparable part of the energy that forms all things are able to imagine that the creative energy, beauty and health of the universe are within them, accessible and able to blossom. They are able to imagine that they were made to be fit and to prosper. Look around you. There are no obese squirrels or deer. You were not made to be overweight either. Your real self was made to be a healthy weight, successful, but somehow we got things wrong and got off track. However, things can be corrected, habits can change. We can get healthy, we can succeed, as long as we can imagine it —but we can only imagine it if we believe it’s possible.

Those who believe only in the material world that they’ve seen so far, who believe there is no energy accessible to them, no beauty and health within them that can emerge, are lost. They can only imagine the disorder of their present condition, and then that’s what they will set their mind on to create. It’s insane of course. Everything, including us, is made of the energy that forms the atomic and subatomic particles that form our bodies, and within us, we have miracles that can mend cuts and broken bones and even generate new life. Only a fool would deny the science of physics and medicine that proves this. But sometimes people are blind to the truth all around them and can only believe in the brokenness and not the healing. Healing happens right before our eyes everyday, but some dismiss it as nothing, blind to the obvious. So, your beliefs and your faith are at the center of these techniques that the therapists teach. To develop a healthy self image, a fit body image, you must believe it is possible, and when you begin to see that it was the way you were made to be before you were led off track, you’ll be on your way to truly remake your self image and your body image, and remake your self.

So, the next time you read, hear or think about visualizing and imaging, pay more attention to what you really believe about yourself and your world, because the image you think you were made in is inescapable, whether it is miserable or miraculous. Start practicing a 24/7 visualization of your true self as your best healthiest version, with a belief that all potentials are within you, that the power to live and heal and prosper and change is within you. Believe that health and success is the way things were made to be, the way your existence eventually must be, as surely as life and healing and creation and growth persist wherever the sun shines.

Author's Bio: 

William Anderson, MA, LMHC, is a licensed psychotherapist residing in Sarasota, Florida, specializing in weight control. He is the author of the revolutionary new weight loss self-help book, The Anderson Method (Two Harbors Press, 2009, $14.95), and he is training a growing network of licensed therapists in his successful weight loss program. Anderson developed his approach when, as a behavior therapist, he permanently lost 140 pounds over 20 years ago after 25 years of diet and exercise failure. More information can be obtained at