This week I’ve been reading “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain. It’s a little book I picked up by chance last week when I was looking for something else. It was originally published in 1978, but it is a timeless classic in personal development.

Creative visualization is, in Gawain’s words, “using your imagination to create what you want in your life.” She encourages readers to use visualization, affirmations, and other “inner work” exercises to clear out any self-limiting beliefs that may be holding them back and use the energetic powers of the universe to attract the things they want.

Of course, many of us tune out completely when we hear the phrase “energetic powers of the universe.” The law of attraction is a nice idea, but for a long time I thought the idea was, as my brother calls it, “bro science.”

Then I learned about the scarcity mindset. (I’ve written about scarcity before, but if you haven’t listened to this episode of “Hidden Brain” yet, prepare to have your mind blown.)

The idea of scarcity is that when you are laser-focused on something you don’t have (e.g., money), you become so obsessive that you actually sabotage your chances of getting that thing. Maybe you desperately need a new car to get to work, but the only car you can afford is a piece of junk. It ends up costing you more money to fix in the long run than the better car would have, but you were so focused on not having money that you made the wrong decision. If you are very lonely and desperate for love — something you don’t have — you may glom onto the first person who looks your way and end up scaring her off.

Shakti Gawain talks about scarcity, too — this idea that it is difficult to get what we want if we go out into the world with “scarcity programming.” If we believe that everything is difficult and that we will never have enough, we unknowingly sabotage our chances at success by not believing that it is possible.

I believe the reverse is also true. If we believe that we are deserving, successful, and smart, we will automatically go into the world with more confidence. Things come more easily when we are confident, so we find it easier to achieve our aims.

This concept is so important for writers because I think we all struggle with feelings of self-doubt. We wonder if our writing is good enough, if other people will like it, if we will ever manage to sell any books, or if we will find an agent. We worry about money. We worry about reviews. We worry if the next book will live up to the last.

Instead of stewing in these worries, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to think that it’ll all work out? That we will write a fabulous book that everyone loves. That it will sell a million copies? That we’ll go on TV and have movies made about it? At the very least, wouldn’t that be more fun than imagining the worst?

If you think it’s crazy to believe that we can create things from our thoughts alone, consider what it takes to be a writer. We create real things from our ideas all the time. Nearly all of my income comes from book sales, and all my books come from ideas. My ideas are born and shaped by my subconscious, which makes my subconscious my number-one money-maker.

If that’s the case, isn’t it time we started caring for our subconscious? Maybe feed it better food and take it to the gym?

Full disclosure: I am a reformed cynic — or maybe a skeptic who wants to be a seeker. Regardless, I am coming around to believe in the power of my thoughts, and I’m starting to use some creative visualization as I work on my next book.

Here are a few things you can try to help manifest your best work:

  1. Visualize the outcome that you want. Picture yourself achieving that thing you desperately want, and feel it with your whole body. If you want to write a novel, imagine holding your book in your hand. See your name on the cover, feel the spine against your fingers. Run your hand over the dust jacket. Imagine the bookstore where you’ll pick it up and how it will feel to have authored it.
  2. Start using positive affirmations. An affirmation is just a statement about yourself or your situation, but you must say it in the present tense as if you’ve already achieved it. Instead of saying, “I am going to get healthy,” you would say, “I am healthy and perfect just the way I am.” Affirmations can feel a little hokey at first, but you don’t have to say them out loud. Thinking or writing them is enough. You can try:

I am creative.

I am so happy now that I am a writer.

I am filled with creative energy.

I love that I get to write for a living.

      I feel wonderful bringing my ideas to life.

3. Believe that the universe is on your side. This may be the hardest one of all, but it’s the one that I think is helping me the most. (Depending on your worldview, you may want to substitute “God” or “guardian angel” or “Oprah” for “the universe.” Whatever floats your boat.)

I’ve been struggling for some time to bring my nonfiction project to fruition, but recently it’s become scarily easy. When I say “easy,” I mean I have been in flow. I’ve been waking up excited to work on it, and I’ve been writing with an urgency I’ve never felt before. It’s not urgency that comes from a deadline or the need to make more money; I feel that the world wants — no — needs this book. The universe might very well be conspiring to help me manifest this project. It’s certainly fun to imagine it is.

If you’re a writer, I highly recommend you give it a try. Pick up a copy of “Creative Visualization,” and start imagining the life you want. If it’s all hooey, no harm. You just may feel happier.

Photo by Lucas Benjamin

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