We have all heard about the importance of visualizing the future, and we have probably been asked more than a few times to think about “what we want.” We’ve been asked to define our goals and then to use them to spur us on toward victory over our current struggles. We may even have been asked to create a tangible picture of these goals by drawing them out or making a vision board collage. Polly Mertens writes that the basic idea behind a vision board is that you can collect images that represent your future and use them to help you “feel the feelings of your future life now. You want to ‘feel’ the way you imagine your future life will feel like – now. In this way you’re adding emotional juice or energy to your vision to magnetize yourself to it.”
Whether you’re cutting pictures out of a magazine or keeping a “What Do I Want” Pinterest board, developing a clear, tangible picture of our hopes and dreams is a necessary step on the road to recovery; it can instill in us a sense of purpose or give us the motivation we need to keep trying and keep moving forward. It can also, however, be a terrifying and intimidating process. What if I don’t know what I want? What if I don’t even know who I am? Questions like these can make us afraid and this fear can hold us back. The realization that we don’t actually have the answers puts us in a vulnerable spot, where we end up just making up answers that “sound right” in order to avoid any uncomfortable soul searching. “I want to get a good job.” “I want to live on the beach.” “I want to have a rich spouse.” These are all fine things to want, but they do not really bring us any closer to knowing ourselves or understanding our true, deep-rooted aspirations. In fact, sometimes thoughts like this can even make us disappointed in ourselves that we haven’t already gotten the job or found the spouse. This defeats the purpose of a vision board!
Martha Beck writes that, when creating a vision board, “many people hear the basic instructions—”Find pictures of things you want in your life and stick ’em where you can see ’em”—and create virtually identical collages: a wad of cash, a handsome husband, a gorgeous body, a luxury car, a tropical beach. Snore. These images constitute our culture’s idea of the good life… To really work, a vision board has to come not from your culture but from your primordial, nonsocial self…”
This means that, in order to be effective, your vision board needs to represent, not the things society says will make you “successful,” but the dreams you have for you. In fact, Beck suggests breaking free from the traditional vision board pictures and instead, searching for any images, words, colors, etc. that “appeal to [your] deep self.” Maybe a picture of a waterfall really moved you, but you’re not sure why? Put it on your board. Maybe you’ve had a song lyric stuck in your head/heart? Put it on your board. You can express your desires without having to explain them, and this gives you the freedom to be creative.
Once you’ve put together some heart-stirring images, take some time each day to reflect on them. You don’t have to develop a plan to bring them into reality, just reflect on the positive feelings they bring. As Beck states, ““the board itself doesn’t impact reality; what changes your life is the process of creating the images—combinations of objects and events that will stick in your subconscious mind and steer your choices toward making the vision real.”
**To read more about vision boards check out these articles…
“A Powerful Visioning Process for Effective Bulimia Treatment” by Polly Mertens http://www.getbusythriving.com/self-help-resources/visualization/
“What The Heck’s A Vision Board—and How Can It Change Your Life?” by Martha Beck