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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer


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on visualization

A key part of The Gabriel Method deals with creative visualization. Each day, in the morning and before bed, you're supposed to spend some time visualizing yourself in an ideal body. Change the mind, the logic goes, and the body will follow.

My wife pointed out a flaw in this logic the other night, though. She said that you might not do anything productive to reach that ideal state if all you visualize is that ideal state. What might be more useful would be to visualize yourself as you are now, but to see yourself doing the behaviours that will lead to the ideal state.

I've been thinking about that. It makes a lot of sense. In other words, visualize yourself preparing healthy meals, visualize yourself sitting down to eat them in a leisurely, focused way without distractions, and visualizing yourself performing physical exercises that you enjoy. Then maybe when those visualizations really get ingrained in your mind, you'll start to try some of them. And once you start to try some of them, you'll start to repeat some of them more often. And then once you start to repeat some of them more often, you'll start to change your relationship with food and exercise and start to lose weight successfully.

I think this all comes out of NLP, that technique that Tony Robbins uses in his self-improvement seminars. I've been gearing up mentally for starting some of these visualizations, because I haven't even made the effort to sit quietly and try them. We'll see what comes out of them. Frankly, it's so easy to maintain the status quo that trying to do ANYTHING can feel like a really challenge sometimes.

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bemused_leftist January 26th, 2010
Why not both? Visualize oneself being healthier AND doing the actions that promote health.

If that's too many impossible things before breakfast, might start with visualizing oneself a little bit healthier and doing a little bit of healthy action. ;-)

vyus January 26th, 2010
I disagree with the wife. Mainly, because she's a wife and wives are to be avoided at all costs. Unless they are someone else's wife, in which case you get to make your own rules.

Got that out of the way :)

Having been around a ton of folks in various points on the arc to getting healthy, I've found that visualizing yourself in a healthy body works for a lot of people. Constant reminders that inspire us help keep our priorities in check.

There's not really any positive emotional surge in preparing healthy meals. I'd suggest that preparing those healthy meals is actually a chore! Eating them is a chore because you aren't allowing yourself to eat the stuff you want to eat. Face it - short-term-Dustin wants to eat other shit. Visualizing yourself prepping healthy meals (I realize this was just one example) is like visualizing yourself paying for a vacation. Most of us are motivated to work for the vacation, not for the logistics and planning and paying the bills for it. Cos you can do all that without even going on a vacation. Hell, imagining the work required to plan for a vacation actually makes me put it off ;)

It's the goal that will make the meals worth it. The goal should always be close to you in some way. The positive emotion tied to the goal needs to be evoked to counter the instant-gratification desire that surges in moments of weakness.

Having pictures available of people who are where you want to be helps tremendously. Some guys go as far as pasting their face on a body they want to emulate and keeping that picture with them. They look at it in moments of doubt. Have 'em everywhere.

Another angle of mental attack is to connect your health with agile sax playing. Remember how it sucked to learn how to play? Cos man, I wasn't there but I know you sucked donkey balls. Putting wind through a crazy tube and pressing levers is not what the human body was designed for. You probably had issues salivating all over the reed when you started!

But now you've got the groove. And it took hard, hard work. Yeah, maybe you had some talent for it, but talent and a mop will get you a tip-paying job in a restaurant. You worked for it, little by little each day, until finally you can inspire a gal to wiggle her hot hips with a cool riff. If you can connect those memories with what you're doing now for health -- it might remind you that the work involved will have real results, if only you keep practicing every day.

You can do it; you have the physical ability to get where you want to go. It's those in-the-moment decisions that get you there. Load up those moments in your long-term favor. Visualization, photos for inspiration, reminding yourself that each day of "practice" really does move you closer to your results - those are tools to help you navigate those moments. Use 'em.

starskin January 26th, 2010
Mainly, because she's a wife and wives are to be avoided at all costs.

Uh. Wow.

vyus January 26th, 2010
i kid :) I think DL knows i'm really teasing myself with that statement. i am fantastically bad at relationships. a little bit of black pepper humour helps counter the salt.

iamom January 26th, 2010
Don't worry, he's being tongue in cheek. Honest.

vyus January 26th, 2010
BTW

With all respect to the wife, this is your journey. I realize that you were a major player in creating the environment that you are in, and an architect of how she now reacts to you...

But if her first reaction to anything you propose is how it's not right, you're going to have to resist integration her opinions into your psyche. I love the photo idea, for example, but a critical mind might think it's hogwash and silly because you should just not eat as much and exercise more. But, in AQAL terms, that's individual-exterior thinking, and your exterior/posterior is a direct consequence of something going on individual-interior.

So you might be discouraged from trying something like the photo idea, even when it really does work for a lot of folks.

A best-chance solution is gonna hit both interior and exterior, and they're gonna have to work together, because the problem (FOOD + EMOTIONAL GRATIFICATION) is hitting you just like that in insidious ways. You need to have a safe space to experiment without fear of judgment from anyone.

I acknowledge this comment may be off-base since a journal is only a tiny sliver of life and all. Just a thought and an encouragement.

iamom January 26th, 2010
Holy shit, you know about that AQAL stuff? Your breadth of interests often surprises me. I just received my first book of Ken Wilber's teachings this past Christmas but I haven't read it yet. It seems really, really technical.

Your suggestions are useful, and I always appreciate them. You've always been a good model for me in terms of healthy physical living too, despite how hard you party. So I appreciate where you're coming from -- it's a place of results.

I think the photo idea is a really good one too, and I've heard it in the context of various other plans. I really believe that a clear mental image of what I want to look like is needed to start. What I'm acknowledging through this entry is that until now, I've really not tried to give much mental energy towards cultivating that image. I've spent a lot of time worrying about why I've gotten to the point I'm at, and I've spent much less time (if not nearly none) thinking about where I want to go.

I was never really taught how to do this as a child, and none of the role models I had throughout my upbringing were good examples of how to actualize positive outcomes in your life. I didn't even really know what I wanted to do with my life until recently, I just sort of let myself go with the flow in a really passive way. But acknowledging what I'm passionate about and then acting in a directed way to actualize those passions are activities that I've never really indulged in before now.

You're about to witness history being made, man! :) lol

Thanks again for your comments and support. And I love the spicy action that you boiled up for my friend Anne (starskin in the process. I took your comments in their intended spirit -- you made me laugh with them. :)

starskin January 26th, 2010
This was my problem with everyone salivating over The Secret. If you just sit and think really, really hard about becoming a millionaire, you'll be one! Just visualize being rich until you ARE rich.

Right. Visualizing yourself succeeding is vitally important to actually succeeding. But then you actually have to do, you know, work. Like, I could visualize myself in a $500,000 a year job, but if I never actually went out and tried to land that job, it's not going to happen.

iamom January 26th, 2010
Yeah, you're right about that. And I can't help but admit that I've been guilty of "just thinking about it" a lot in my life, and "not doing it."

Our psychology is a funny thing. So many of us have these psychological hang-ups that feel impossible to resolve, you know? But in the end, when you think about it, you can really just drop them pretty easily. All it takes is to live in the now. The hang-ups almost always have to do with hanging on to past traumas or painful experiences that are no longer part of our lives; if we acknowledge that and move on, we can start doing some good things for ourselves right now in this moment.

starskin January 26th, 2010
Oh we've all been guilty of doing that, really. Inertia is a very powerful force. And for someone like me, who wants to consider every possible angle and repercussion of anything I do (even though I KNOW it's not only impossible to do that, it's kinda crazy-making), it can be so much easier to just stay put.

wraithinwings January 27th, 2010
I agree with your wife- visualizing the 'perfect' body isn't going to get you anywhere but dissatisfied with the body youre in now. The media's portrayal of the 'perfect' body hasn't made anyone healthier; it's made them unhappy, obsessed and produced a society with rampant obesity, eating disorders, and general health problems.
But I do agree that choosing to focus on healthful behaviors will have benefits. It's been working for me. :) Cheers!
~Lauren

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