“I believe in your power to manifest and visualize, more than anybody I know,” one of my best friends recently wrote to me.

Humbled that she felt this way about me, it also got me to thinking… Where did this ability come from?  How could I share it with others as part of my holistic approach to health and happiness?

As I started thinking more about it, I realized that there were two very powerful tools that I had been using more and more over the past couple of years. Both have helped tremendously with my own healing process and with creating the life I want to be living, every day. I thought it might be helpful to share a few examples of how these work, specifically with health and alcohol-related goals, however, they can be used in any situation for any desired outcome.

The first tool is taken from The Desire Map, developed by the brilliant Danielle LaPorte. It’s a concept called Core Desired Feelings which are also described as a means to achieve ‘goals with soul.’ The basic premise is to base goal-setting (and life!) on how you want to feel, rather than being attached to a particular outcome. 

While Danielle outlines a process for distilling 3-5 core desired feelings that are consistent and over-arching guides to your decision-making processes through life, I have also used this concept with more fluidity to adapt to specific days and moments.

An example. I find that we often focus on what we don’t want, versus what we DO want. My clients come to me saying things like:

“I don’t want to feel insecure.”

“I don’t want to feel stressed.”

“I don’t want to feel ashamed about my drinking/body/decisions etc…”

A more detailed example might be: “I have an event coming up. I usually drink way too much when there’s free wine and I don’t want to get drunk this time. At the same time, I don’t want to feel like an ass and the only one not drinking. I’m worried that I’ll be too shy and introverted and won’t be as witty and entertaining as when I’m drinking.”

With a gentle reframe and a focus on Core Desired Feelings for the evening, we can turn this negative self-talk into positive self-talk, which will magnetize positive results.

Think about how you want to FEEL throughout the evening and arriving at home after the event. Use the negatives (such as the examples described above) as teachers, they are the shadow-side (opposites) of the positives.

An example could be: I want to feel confident, charming, witty and wise, and I want to feel this way with ease and grace. When I arrive home, I want to feel accomplished, happy and peaceful.

After defining your Core Desired Feelings, it is time to experience an Embodied Visualization of these feelings – which is the second tool that I use. Many of you may already be familiar with the concept of visualization… embodiment simply takes the mental pictures a step further by locating the desired outcome, aka feeling, in your body.

Combining core desired feelings + embodied visualization = a powerful imprint to reset your patterns and achieve different outcomes.

Instead of spending time agonizing and stressing about all the things that could possibly go wrong, how hard it might be, how stupid you might feel etc, take some time to focus on all the thing that can go right.

Here’s a step-by-step exercise in Embodied Visualization: 

  • Find a comfortable position, either sitting in a meditation pose or laying on the ground.

  • Start deep breathing, inhaling all the way to your fingertips, down into your toes.

  • After a minute or so, imagine a beautiful white gold light entering through the crown of your head, and with each breath, that light shines brilliance through your entire body.

  • Keep channelling light through the top of your head and now focus the light as if it were beaming from your third eye. Keeping your eyes closed, imagine the light as a projection, lighting up a silver screen suspended in front of you. The image will start coming into focus, and you will see the image of what you are preparing for.

  • Let’s say it is a networking event that has been causing you anxiety. See yourself there, embodying your core desired feelings. You move through the room with seemingly effortless confidence, you exude charm, you are quick with your witty repartee. You sip your spritzer made from fresh juice and mineral water, enjoying the effervescence of the bubbles and refreshing flavors. You delight in the fact that your senses are extra tuned in, you have a heightened awareness of everything and everyone around you. Perhaps you are more selective of whom you are speaking with, honouring your intuition in terms of when to engage and with whom.

  • The idea is to get out of your head and allow your body to experience these feelings as sensations in your body, as if they were already happening.

Have you ever heard the advice to “act as if?” This is the first step. The same way a professional athlete prepares for the championship game, visualizing every play in exquisite detail and allowing the rush of adrenaline and elation rush through their body when they score the final point and the sense of pure triumph as they hold up the trophy in front of thousands of cheering fans. Feel that, for you.

The entire process of identifying your core desired feelings and practicing embodied visualization does not need to take more than 10-15 minutes. Of course, you can spend more time with this. You may also choose to make a daily practice of it.

While recently hospitalized, I used these tools several times a day, sometimes more. It was especially important as I found myself overwhelmed with fear and doubt. Of course, I couldn’t make myself magically “better” overnight based solely on visualization, nor did I immediately start feeling my core desired feelings specific as I was still hooked up to an IV and immobilized. However, I strongly believe that my committed focus on how I wanted to feel and the visualization of what needed to happen in my body sped the recovery process significantly. I focused on how I wanted to feel in the short term, how it would feel to be told that I wasn’t in critical condition anymore, how it would feel to have the IV taken out of my arm, how I would feel being discharged from the hospital… and the longer term of how I wanted to feel once I was strong and active again.

How do you want to feel? In your social life? work life? in your body? in relationship? after a date? after having sex? Let these feelings be your guide. You can use the tools I’ve described here for any circumstance in your life that you could possibly imagine.

I would love to hear how visualization has worked for you. Have you identified your core desired feelings? Let me know in the comments!