Article explaining visualisation

Hey, here is the theoretical knowledge that you need to understand, before we will start our visualization exercises.


1. Study shows that process visualization can result in better grades

“For 5 to 7 days prior to a midterm examination, college freshmen mentally simulated either the process for doing well on the exam (good study habits) or simulated a desired outcome (getting a good grade) or both.

A self-monitoring control condition was included.

Results indicated that process simulation enhanced studying and improved grades; the latter effect was mediated by enhanced planning and reduced anxiety.”

Process visualization improved grades of participants, while end-result visualization not showing any positive effects. That’s why you need to make a distinction between different types of visualization.

And that’s why I will also show you a data about those types of visualization that do not work.

1a.  Studies that show which visualization you shouldn’t be doing

What is more, end-result positive visualizations can have negative effect and decrease chances of succeeding.

“The research improved. In the second study, participants asked to fantasise positively about
winning an essay contest subsequently reported
feeling less energised than did participants asked to fantasise more negatively about their prospects.”

“Next, a positive fantasy about the coming week led participants to feel less energised,
and when surveyed a week later, they’d achieved fewer of their week’s goals,
than had control participants who’d originally been asked to day-dream freely about the coming week.”

The same is with positive affirmations. They are not only a complete waste of time, but there are also bad for your self-esteem if you are a person that needs them

Two experiments showed that among participants with low self-esteem, those who repeated a positive
self-statement (“I’m a lovable person”) or who focused on how that statement was true felt worse than
those who did not repeat the statement or who focused on how it was both true and not true.

Among participants with high self-esteem, those who repeated the statement or focused on how it was true felt better than those who did not, but to a limited degree.

Positive expectations (judging a desired future as likely) predicted high effort and successful performance, 

High expectations were correlated with succeeding, which isn’t very surprising, considering that successful people will expect success more often than not-as-successful-ones.


“but the reverse was true for positive fantasies (experiencing one’s thoughts and mental images about a desired future positively).– this is a quote from the study. For some reason can’t do normal quote as in previous ones

This means that fantasizing and using “Secret”-like-methods don’t work.

2. Visualization can increase physical strength, with first-person visualization showing the best results

This study shows results of 2 different methods of visualization of muscle exercise

The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of training using internal imagery (IMI; also known as kinesthetic imagery or first person imagery) with that of external imagery (EMI; also known as third-person visual imagery) of strong muscle contractions on voluntary muscle strengthening.

Eighteen young, healthy subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups (6 in each group): internal motor imagery (IMI), external motor imagery (EMI), or a no-practice control (CTRL) group.

Training lasted for 6 weeks (~15 min/day, 5 days/week).

The participants’ right arm elbow-flexion strength, muscle electrical activity, and movement-related cortical potential (MRCP) were evaluated before and after training.

Third-person visualization still increased strength and prevented from loosing strength, but results were not as high as for first-person visualization group

Only the IMI group showed significant strength gained (10.8%) while the EMI (4.8%) and CTRL (−3.3%)
groups did not.

3. Examples of visualization used in real life

We learned thoery of visualization, now is the time to learn something about process/habit/activity visualization in practice in order to do that, learn something about our first subject:

I) Robert Lewandowski

The best football player in Poland, here you can watch quick video on him in the football field, scoring 5 goals in 9 minutes:

And here is a video of him performing visualization:

Or another great sportsman

II) Michael Phelps

“Vision and mental rehearsal are two sides of the same coin. “You must program your internal viewfinder,” says Bowman. He’s speaking of visualization and no one, in Bowman’s opinion, does it better than Michael Phelps. “For months before a race Michael gets into a relaxed state. He mentally rehearses for two hours a day in the pool. He sees himself winning. He smells the air, tastes the water, hears the sounds, sees the clock.” Phelps take visualization one step further. He sees himself from the outside, as a spectator in the stands. He sees himself overcoming obstacles, too. For example, what would he do if he fell further behind in a race than he intended? Phelps practices all potential scenarios.”

“According to Bowman mental rehearsal is a proven, well-established technique to achieve peak performance in nearly every endeavor. “ The brain cannot distinguish between something that’s vividly imagined and something that’s real. ”


While I am not famous swimmer or footballer I successfully used visualization in my personal life to create habits of studying or going to the gym. With second example it helped me increase my strength by around 40 pounds on a bench-press in a few months, by visualization* of me going to the gym and lifting.

*Visualization followed going to the gym and that resulted in increased strength, but at that time I wasn’t very disciplined person and visualization helped me create gym habits and persevere in them.

4. Conclusion

Visualization does work if you use proper visualization techniques. Those techniques are:

– First-person visualization alone or with third-person visualization as addition.

– Visualization have to be focused on process, not on the result. You should visualize activity that will help you achieving something, not the achievement.

And  according to this study:

– Visualize your habits and activities after meditation to increase effects of said visualizations

In next blog post I will post visualization exercise that we will do. Until then make sure that you have read this article and understood importance of process-visualization.

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