Visualization is a tool, not a panacea

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To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act! Alfred A. Montapert.

Wishful thinking is one thing, and reality another, Jalal Talabani.

I stress that you should not confuse the importance of positive thinking with those who preach that we can change or recreate the real world through our thoughts alone.
One example is Tony Robbins, a well-known life coach, self-help author, and motivational speaker. According to this author, you must first think about what you want to achieve without worrying about how to achieve it: “We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” So, one woman set this goal: she would have $100,000 in less than eight weeks. A few days before her deadline expired, she won the lottery. Later, she decided to set another goal of $150,000 in six months and she won $150,000 on the lottery again! A couple decided to make a million dollars and they did, too.

Let me be clear on this very important point, this is a false illusion without any theoretical or statistical results to support it. It can be a very empowering and useful tool, but very often it is not enough!


What do you need to do in order to change reality? Do you really believe that this is possible? Just by thinking, visualising yourself, and changing your attitude, you can achieve wealth, fame, and success. No, this is not true!

It is an individualist assumption that disables us as a society to take coordinated actions against injustice and social inequality.

We must think ambitiously about our aspirations and projects, but we also have to be realistic, know our socio-economic and political environment, our capabilities and potential. Besides, we need to break these goals down, create an effective action plan, and have the willpower, determination, and courage to make it happen. Success also relies on other people’s cooperation and you cannot control this variable as much as you wish.
It is important to note that there are a lot of useful variables within this approach. For example, if you think you are going to fail an exam, have a bad day, or enjoy a party, typically you will. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your expectations that you will experience a particular outcome change your behaviour, which shapes the way others see and interact with you. In turn, others provide the feedback and approval that you have set yourself up to get, which serves to reinforce your original belief and show that you were absolutely right.
It is also true that not everyone can win a million dollars on the lottery, be renowned actors or actresses, world-class athletes, millionaire CEOs, etc. Therefore, there is a balance. A middle ground between the importance of motivation, thinking big, being positive and optimistic, believing in ourselves, and reality. An equilibrium is needed between our hard and persevering work and the collaboration and compromise of others.
Some may argue that even if it is not real, proven or scientific, this belief about being able to recreate our reality is positive. What are the alternatives? Is it better to give up, moan, and groan or even feel sorry for ourselves, for our bad luck because we can do nothing to change our destiny?

Certainly, many of us think that there are intermediate positions. We accepted some areas of our reality as inevitable, but we also give our choices, thoughts, and actions great importance. We want to squeeze life and get the most out of ourselves in an endless cycle of self-improvement, in a constant struggle to change what is not right or fair.


“I’ve seen with my own eyes the profound suffering of the Somali people seeking safety and food. Refugee children who die and their mothers, who have become walking skeletons and are faced with the dilemma of which child to save,” said the high UN commissioner Antonio Gutierres, after visiting Ethiopia.

Sometimes we can do nothing by ourselves, we need people to help make things happen. We can have an optimistic approach, too, as Barack Obama put it: “Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.”


We always have a choice, and we can change something: our attitude towards our problems and circumstances, how we deal with them, improve our knowledge and skills, join social movements and other civil society organisations, etc.
For example, when the loss of a family member through death occurs, after the initial time of grief and mourning, we need to accept that life goes on, remember fondly the good times we spent together (“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” Dr Seuss), comfort the bereaved and eventually move on in life, try to fill that gap with love, etc.

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Author: Anawim

We are people who want to change the world. We hope to continue to do our bit and make a difference in helping make the world a better, more sustainable, prosperous, and fairer place. We are social and religious activists. Anawim is the founder and leader of the project; I am always willing to give free talks and lectures about the social problems that exist in our world today.

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