Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Affirmations and Visualizations: Help or Hype?

Never been a huge fan of visualization and affirmations. They always seemed a little trite to me. Like the little engine that could repeating "I think I Can...I think I Can..." and then he does. Cute but not powerful. The question is can you convince yourself and leap past your doubts by thinking over and over that you can do it. It strikes me that there needs to be a little more to it than that. So I was skeptical.

It seems though that there is some science behind this in that our Reticular Activating System, the RAS, acts as a filter, reducing the impact of repeated stimuli such as loud noises, helping to prevent our senses from being constantly overloaded. It lets us focus on only those things that we need to keep on functioning. It makes it so that we do not need to respond to all the stimuli that come by our senses. That means that an incredible amount of stimuli that happen in our environment are simply ignored by our brain and processed briefly by the RAS. We simply do not notice them.

Those pieces of information going by could contain information that we need but we never process. Herein lies the connection to visualizations and affirmations. If our brain assumes we only need a fixed group of information, then that is what we see. When we introduce our future as if it is now through visualization, our brain passes different information to us based on what happens around us.

Have you ever bought a car and then afterwards notice that there are many of the same car on the road that until now you had not noticed. Your brain moving relevant information into your consciousness. Amazing.

So do I believe in visualization and affirmations? I believe in the RAS and how it functions so I believe that visualized experiences make us see different inputs from our environment. The RAS is also relatively active during REM sleep which is our dream state and quiet outside the REM sleep. Smart stuff. Worth a try.

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