The power of visualization in sobriety – Visualization is a very powerful tool and the power of visualization in sobriety is something I would encourage you to embrace. Visualization is not just allowing yourself to daydream, it is a practice that helps you focus on dreams, goals or intentions and then using this power, this energy to help you physically manifest what you want.
There is a lot of strength with the mind-body connection. Many studies and anecdotal experiences have shown that really if you can visualize it you can achieve it. Body builders for example who visualized themselves regularly and successfully lifting weights were able to increase their muscle strength by over 13% simply by doing a ‘mental’ workout.
Other hugely successful people like Arnold Schwarzenegger have achieved massive success just by visualizing themselves succeeding at their goal. Arnie used to regularly imagine himself up on the stage winning the Mr Universe competition, he practiced in his head all the moves, he felt the feelings that went with this defining moment and of course, he got to experience it for real many times. He carried on with his visualization practice to help him become a world famous movie star.
I want to delve deeper with you about the power of visualization in sobriety and give you a couple of powerful techniques to really help you ‘see’ and perhaps more importantly, feel yourself sober, successful and happy.
Why does visualization work and how can you use it in sobriety?
Studies using brain imagery have shown that neurons in our brains interpret imagery just the same as actual physical action. When we visualize what we want to achieve then the messages get sent to our bodies to ‘do’ the action. New neural pathways are formed, just like they would be by physically carrying out the action. This then encourages our bodies or ourselves to carry out the task just as we imagined it.
With sobriety If you can regularly visualize yourself going through the witching hour, quite happy and relaxed without the wine then you are already ‘practicing’ this new behaviour in your mind before you physically do it. New neural pathways are being formed just by seeing yourself in the picture.
Similarly if you are nervous before attending a party or social event then spending time beforehand visualizing yourself having an amazing time will really lift you up, relax you and give you the confidence to go right ahead and enjoy it. You have already seen yourself doing it, so you know you can. It’s like being the star of your very own movie!
The thing is with visualization, setting goals and imagining outcomes is that, like everything, you have to be consistent, make a commitment and take it seriously. You can’t just do a visualization once on a random Tuesday and then see all your dreams come true! It is not magic, although the experience can be magical, you also have to put in a little effort and reflect on your visions. You need to align your activities with your goals or desires.
Visualization is shown to improve motivation, coordination and concentration. It also reduces fear, nervousness and self doubt. All of these combined give us a much needed surge of confidence and self belief to help us to achieve what we want.
How do you do it?
Visualization can be done instead of meditating or it can form part of your meditation practice. You should relax, get yourself into a peaceful state of mind and be able to sit quietly for 10 minutes or so. It is a good idea to set your intention before you begin, so you know what it is you want to visualize or experience in your vision.
The key with visualization is to put yourself in the place where you want to be, as if you are already doing it. See yourself doing whatever it is you want to do, when you are no longer drinking.
Go into as much detail as possible and use all your senses. So, if your goal is to go to bed in the evening completely sober, picture yourself doing just that. See yourself happy, relaxed, proud, in your lovely bed with gorgeous nightwear, a book, some candles and essential oils. Are you reading to your kids in bed, is your family there to kiss you goodnight? Make the image big and bright. Who are you with? What can you touch or taste? What can you see and smell and most importantly, how do you feel?
It is also really good practice to visualize what you will do if an urge or a craving comes up, this will help you anticipate any problems and then get past them before they even come up. The more detail you can bring into your visualization, the more powerful it will be for you. Practicing your new routine, even just in your mind will start those neurons firing and start to build new pathways.
If you struggle to do this on your own, then there are lots of guided visualization meditations to help you through the process. One of my favourite is ‘Creative visualization Meditations’ by Shakti Gawain.
Emotions are what drives behaviour so really try and feel yourself being in the moment
Really connecting to the emotions and feeling the feelings will make it easier for you to hold onto your dream and do whatever it is that needs to be done to get you closer to where you want to be. Emotions are what drives behaviour so really try and feel yourself being in the moment.
When you have finished the visualization exercise it is such a good idea to go one step further and create a vision board, based on the image you saw in your mind.
I love having a vision board as it gives me something specific to look at. Also it is such fun cutting, pasting and designing your alcohol free life. Having this vision, something to focus on when you feel down or triggered will help to motivate and inspire you. Also, looking at your vision board regularly will help to reinforce your dreams and your goals onto your subconscious.
The beauty of this practice, is that you can adapt it as you grow and change. At the moment it might just be getting to the end of an evening, in a couple of months, a sober social event, then your sober holiday… The possibilities are endless – as is your power!
Visualization helps you find and manifest your intentions. When we visualize what we want and how we will get it, this will help bring energy, motivation and inspiration to our daily lives that help us to align our activities with our intentions. You can also use this practice to help you get through any area of your life that you want to improve. Remember though, it takes practice, repetition and time.
If you are new to visualization but want to learn the power of visualization in sobriety then just give it a go! You don’t need any special equipment, just some peace and quiet and your imagination. Allow yourself to dream and just connect to the emotions of your dream.
To help you get started, when you sign up to the Sober Bliss newsletter you get a FREE guided visualization meditation to help you through wine o’clock without drinking.
Have you experienced the power of visualization in sobriety? Let me know in the comments below.