Why Visualizations Don’t Work

You’ve heard it time and time again, “Visualize what you want, and you’ll get it!” It sounds so good. Too good. It can’t be real, can it?

The answer to that is tricky. Visualizing is an incredibly powerful tool. With effective visualization you can truly give yourself the power to create the life you want. However there are different ways of visualizing, and while they can all feel wonderful, some of them can actually bind you in place.

The Power Behind Visualization

Some of the most successful people in the world harness the power of creative visualization to manifest their dreams. Top athletes, powerful business personalities and many actors also use visualization to get what they want out of their lives and work. They tap into their own inner power, a power that we all have, to turn their dreams into reality. But how does visualization of your ideal life work

Effective visualization does these four things to bump up your inner power:

  1. It motivates you to take the necessary actions to make your desired outcomes happen.
  2. It energizes the Law of Attraction. The clarity of the images you visualize allow you to become a magnet for the people, situations, and events that lead to your deepest desires fulfilling themselves in your life. 
  3. It triggers your creative subconscious so that you can see opportunities in life that weren’t apparent previously.
  4. It prompts your brain to recognize the tools you need to access in order to achieve your goals. Not only that, but it keeps your brain on the lookout for the tools, or people who could supply those tools.
Guided Visualization: Confidence

All That You Need is Within You

I’ve talked about this before. You are enough. All the thoughts that tell you it’s not possible, that you might fail, that you should be afraid, those voices serve a purpose, they’re meant to keep you safe. However, your brain can’t tell the difference between being unfriended on facebook, getting yelled at by your boss, or getting attacked by a bear.

If you’re afraid of being unfriended, then your brain will do all it can to keep you safe from that. The results is often not what you’d hope for, and often creates the outcome you want to avoid most.


Some people say, ‘What you think about, you get more of.” Some say, “Your brain doesn’t think in negatives, so if you say, ‘I don’t want to be unfriended’.” Then your brain will focus on the word ‘unfriended’ and next thing you know you’re friends list is shrinking.

This is technically true, but it’s a little more nuanced than that.

You see the problem is when you focus on what you don’t want, it doesn’t give you information about what you do want. Instead of saying you don’t want to be unfriended, phrase your goal in the positive, “I want my friends to stay my friends.” Or, “I want my friend list to grow.”

Once you say what you want in the positive, it opens the door to possibilities. Your brain instantly gets to work!

If All That’s True Then Why Don’t Visualizations Work?

The truth is that some visualizations do work, but some don’t. How you use them, and what you do after you visualize is what’s most important.

So often guided visualizations encourage you to step into a dream, to immerse yourself, to fully feel that dream – which is wonderful. It feels great! However, your brain thinks it feels so good, and your imagination was so clear, that it believes your dream has already happened.

I know, and you know, you can clearly see you still don’t have that job you wanted and you still feel fearful in new situations, or whatever you’ve been trying to visualize still hasn’t happened, but it’s not your conscious brain that helps you see possibilities. It’s your inner subconscious brain that does all the hard work of seemingly creating something from nothing.

When you tap into the emotional brain, you let it know that all that’s in your visualization is true. So yes, emotions can help us feel great about our dreams and can be used to increase commitment, but in order to really take action we need to step away from our emotions and instead see action.

The strongest visualizations end with you seeing what you want, not feeling what you want.

How to Visualize Effectively

There are different ways to visualize. Which method you choose depends on what you like, how much time you have, as well as what your goal is.

Today I’m going to share a very powerful visualization that’ll help you really tap into who you want to be. In just a few simple steps, you can be using creative visualization to empower yourself to create the changes you want in life. This is a shortened version that I use in my practice when a client wants to increase their motivation, decrease anxiety, and really shift how they show up in their life.

Think of 1 quality you would like to experience more of in your day to day life. If you have a specific situation you’d like to bring this quality to, then please have it in your mind.

For the purpose of this demonstration, I’m using confidence as an example of a quality, you can substitute any quality or value you want more of.

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be interrupted for a few minutes.
  2. Close your eyes and relax.
  3. Remember a time when you felt confident. Any time will do, even if it was a split second. See yourself feeling confident.
  4. Go back to that time and notice how you enjoy it, as if it’s happening right now, in this moment. Notice the way your breathing changes and your face expresses how you feel.
  5. Let the moment wash over you as you allow yourself to fully feel that confidence.
  6. Now I’d like you step outside of that moment. You can still see it, but it’s getting farther away. You’re in a movie theatre watching yourself on the big screen.
  7. You can see yourself being confident while you walk down the street. Notice your posture, the way you move your body while you walk down the street. Notice your facial expression.
  8. In your hand you have a bottle. I’d like you to use this bottle to capture the image from the movie screen in front of you.
  9. The movie shifts and you see yourself walking into a new social situation. You have your bottle of confidence in your hand. When you open it, you clearly see your body posture shift. Your face reflects your increased confidence.
  10. Notice how this confident version of yourself moves about the room talking to people. Notice the way you walk with confidence. Notice how they respond to the situation.
  11. The scene fades, and you notice you still have your bottle of confidence in your hand.

For the next 21 days, I’d like you to imagine scenarios where you’d like to show up with this new strength. Now take a few moments each day to pull open your bottle of confidence (or whatever value you chose) and see yourself as if on a movie screen responding resourcefully.

This visualization did tap into emotion, but it doesn’t focus on your emotion. This visualization begins with an emotional connection to what you want to achieve, but it ends with no emotional connection. It ends with you seeing yourself taking action.

If you’d like to download your own copy of this visualization, I included a button at the top of this post, there’s another one right here for your convenience:

Guided Visualization: Confidence

The Best Visualizations Have a Clear Goal

It’s easy to imagine yourself confident, but it’s not always easy to understand what being confident really looks like. In strong visualizations you allow yourself to see and define what a specific value means to you.

Earlier I mentioned how your brain instantly gets to work once it knows what you want. This visualization allows you to define abstract concepts to help your brain work toward that goal more easily.

I’d love to hear what you thought of this visualization and how it might work for you. Drop a comment before and let me know what you thought!


Very interesting! This is what stuck out to me: “It motivates you to take the necessary actions to make your desired outcomes happen.” All too often the motivation I need is already there!

~Emily from So Sunny Day


So you already feel motivated to take action without visualize? Do you use visualizations at all?


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