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What is Creative Visualization?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Creative visualization is the practice of using positive thinking along with created mental images to achieve certain goals. Most people may be familiar with its applications in sports, where athletes visualize things like making baskets, catching passes, achieving perfect landings on dismounts, and the like. The idea actually dates back much farther to some practices in Buddhism, and also has some grounding in Wicca and in other religions. Moreover, there are many people who believe this technique is of use in everyday settings to achieve any kind of desired object or outcome.

The underlying belief in those who practice creative visualization is that thoughts can affect the outcome of people’s existence. No matter how it is used, if people continually direct their thoughts in a meditative way toward certain goals, they may be more likely to achieve them. Many people conclude that the outcome of creative visualization is not 100% positive and won’t always directly result in getting people what they want. A creative visualization that has a foreign born US citizen becoming the President is probably unlikely, given laws against it. Additionally, any visualization needs to be paired with actual work to achieve goals.

For example, an athlete isn’t likely to excel without physical practice and repetition of the moves that help to acquire muscle memory and greater skill. On the other hand, many athletes do believe performance is enhanced when they use meditative techniques, visualizing successful moves. They are often taught creative visualizations skills by coaches or sports psychologists, and those athletes who have developed performance issues may especially utilize these techniques to think more positively about future performance. Again, this doesn’t always work, but many athletes feel it helps, and there are some limited studies suggesting the effectiveness of visualization.

Ancient and modern religions sometimes employ creative visualization too. Some sects of Buddhism use creative positive thinking during meditation. Newer Wiccan religions might use similar tactics. To some degree, many Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions also explore these techniques during prayer, but since the idea somewhat involves influencing the natural world with a person’s thoughts, some believe that it has a magical quality that makes God less important. Should visualizations not work, people of these religious groups would likely assume that God refused a specific request or they might, if visualizations are successful, attribute success to positive attitude and the grace of the Lord.

There are many books and programs that stress the importance of creative visualization. A number of these seem to promise unrealistic outcomes and suggest that people will be able to directly influence huge portions of their life by focused meditation that sees positive outcomes. While it’s psychologically sound to suggest that a generally positive attitude may affect outcome and the way people perceive it, it’s not fully clear that visualization always makes a difference. If people want to give this a try they might want to try it on their own first, before spending lots of money on a program that promises hard to believe results.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
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Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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