'To bring anything into your life, imagine that it's already there' (Richard Bach).
Often people think that they can not do visualisations, or consider them esoteric and/or 'fluffy.' However, in actual fact, everyone visualises. For example, anyone who has imagined an anxiety-provoking scenerio or had an imaginary arguement with someone, which is most people, have visualised this imaginary event. They have experienced it as if it is was really happening to them, and therefore felt the associated feelings and physical sensations that come with living through the event. Clearly, these type of visualisation are not helpful.
However, helpful visualisations can be created for a specific purpose, such as inducing relaxation in the body and mind, confidence building, rehearsing events such as presentations, interviews, and sporting activities. Visualisations can also be used in the treatment of panic attacks and phobias, as part of a carefully planned cognitive behaviour therapy treatment program. The following exercises offer you the possibility of gaining a shift in perspective with regards to your situation (and associated thoughts and feelings). However, please note, these exercises are not standalone interventions for managing more complex situations, feelings, and thoughts.
Have you found that over time, a lot of the concerns that previously preoccupied you have somehow become smaller or even disappeared? Of all the things that have worried you over your lifetime so far, how many of them can you still remember, and how many of them are still relevant? Of course, there are times when what worries you at this present time, will still matter to you in the future. However, what tends to happen is that our current concerns are continually replaced with different ones. Given this general feature of anxiety (although there are specific exceptions, such as anxieties related to obsessional thoughts), perhaps you can consider using time as a way of gaining some perspective on a current anxiety. To do this, ask yourself the following question: Will what is worrying me now, still matter to me in a week, a month, a year, 5 years time? When answering this question, remember not to be guided by strong emotions, but instead think back to how previous concerns have often faded into insignificance, over time.
Visualisations can be a powerful way of shifting our perspective and thus feelings. With this in mind, I invite you to do the following visualisation when you are feeling overwhelmed or crowded out by a difficult situation. Imagine you are looking down on yourself from above, and then gradually zoom out so that your field of vision gradually expands (as it would if you are hovering higher and higher in the sky). Imagine your visual field to expand so that it first includes where you are (e.g. your house), then your town/city/surrounding countryside, then your county/state, then your country, then your region of the world, then the world, then the solar system, then the milky way, and finally the wider universe. As a result of doing this exercise, you may find that what has been on your mind, seems more manageable.