Using Visualization to Overcome Fear

Posted by: Sonya Highfield

Visualization can be a powerful tool for many aspects of the creative process. As artists know, often times the first hit of inspiration comes in visually- a flash of an image, a dream with visuals that stay with you, a color or texture. And of course visuals are connected to emotions, which guide our lives in one way or another.

But have you ever used visualization as an exercise to overcome fears?

We all experience fear, and we often experience illogical fears which we can acknowledge are silly/false, and yet the emotions that come with those fears have serious impact on our lives. Fear stops us from doing things like: following up a conversation with a potential client with an email, applying to the program you really want to do, pitching to a big company, asking for more money, sharing your work on social media, asking for help, taking your work seriously for fear it won’t work out and many other things.

And we obsess about the fears we have. We get so wrapped up in them, that they take over our thoughts and we can’t get out of the ditch they’ve created.

But what’s on the other side? This is where visualization comes into play, and we can actually start to break down and overcome our fears. I use this exercise repeatedly, and it can be applied to all kinds of situations. When you find yourself feeling excited, and yet totally terrified of an idea – whether it’s reaching out to someone you want to work with, applying to a job, speaking in public, going to an event etc. – take a few moments to breathe, close your eyes and imagine what it would feel like to have done the “thing” and be on the other side of the experience emotionally.

Usually a sense of relief starts to come in when you imagine yourself accomplishing “it”, doing well, being applauded, getting the “yes”. Maybe you start to feel pride, this was something new, this was a big step forward, this went better than you expected. Imagine others’ positive reactions, imagine receiving support and acknowledgment, imagine that sense of fulfillment that comes from doing what you want, and having listened to what you felt called to do. You can think back to moments in your past where you faced a fear and remember how it felt to be over the hump of waiting to see what happens. Knowing that however it turned out, you were still okay. You made it. Maybe you were changed in some way, probably changed for the better, because once you did the thing, took the action, you had more knowledge about yourself and that’s ALWAYS a positive thing.

And you can use visualization to think long term. Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years? What’s the most ideal version of you doing? Use that vision to motivate yourself to take the steps and overcome your fears to get to that person. To get to that most delicious life, where you’ve taken risks, gone big, made moves, played with your full heart and can be proud of all that you did to get there. Keep visualizing it, allow it to shift and expand and change over time, but keep coming back to your vision and use it frequently to fiercely pursue what it is YOU are here to do.

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