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Visualization is a tool, not a panacea

To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act! Alfred A. Montapert.

I really want to stress that you should never confuse the importance of a good self-esteem and positive thinking with those who preach that we can change or recreate the real world through our thoughts alone. In other words, you can begin to attract success and happiness by visualizing what you want to achieve, picturing yourself in a successful situation, etc.

One example is Tony Robbins, a well-known life coach, self-help author, and motivational speaker. According to this author, you must first think about what you want to achieve without worrying about how to achieve it: “We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” So, one woman set this goal: she would have $100,000 in less than eight weeks. A few days before her deadline expired, she won the lottery. Later on, she decided to set another goal of $150,000 in six months and she won $150,000 on the lottery again!

Let me be very clear on this very important point, this is an advise without any theoretical, experimental, or statistical results to support it. It could be an empowering and useful tool, but it could also be a damaging tool because reality strikes without mercy! That’s fake and dangerous!

Wishful thinking is one thing, and reality quite another, Jalal Talabani.

Wishful thinking is one thing, and reality quite another, Jalal Talabani.

What do you need to do in order to change reality? Do you really believe that this is possible? Just by thinking or visualizing yourself rich, happier, being fitter, or doing something, you can achieve wealth, fame, and success. No, this is not true!

It is an individualist assumption that disables us as individuals and as a society to take coordinated actions against injustice and social inequality.

We must think ambitiously about our dreams, purpose, goals, and projects, but we also have to be realistic, know our socio-economic and political environment, our capabilities, true potential, and limitations.

Besides, we need to break these goals down into manageable steps, create an effective and realistic action plan, and develop the willpower, determination, and self-discipline to make it happen. Success also relies on other people’s cooperation and you cannot control this variable as much as you wish even though effective communication skills are essential and can make wonders.

It is important to note that there are a lot of useful and positive variables within this approach. For example, if you think you are going to fail/pass an exam, have a bad/good day, or enjoy/get bored at a party, typically you will. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your expectations that you will experience a particular outcome are likely to change your attitude and behavior, which shapes the way others see and interact with you. As a consequence, others will provide you the feedback and approval or disapproval that you have set yourself up to get, which serves to reinforce your original belief and show that you were absolutely right.

It is also true that not everyone can win a million dollars on the lottery, be renowned actors or actresses, world-class athletes, millionaire CEOs, etc. Therefore, there is a compromise to be made. A middle ground between the importance of motivation, good self-esteem, thinking big, being positive and optimistic, believing in ourselves, and reality. An equilibrium is needed between our hard and persevering work and the collaboration and input from others.

Some may argue that even if it is not real, proven or scientific, this belief about being able to recreate our reality is positive. What are the alternatives? Is it better to give up, moan, groan or even feel helpless and sorry for ourselves, for our bad luck because we can do nothing to change our destiny?

Certainly, many of us think that there are intermediate positions and arguments. We need to accept some areas of our reality as inevitable, but we also give our choices, thoughts, attitudes, and actions great importance and power to change something or create what we want. We want to squeeze life and get the most out of ourselves in an endless cycle of self-improvement, in a constant struggle to change what is not right, convenient, or fair.

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities, J.K. Rowling

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities, J.K. Rowling

 I've seen with my own eyes the profound suffering of the Somali people seeking safety and food. Refugee children who die and their mothers, who have become walking skeletons and are faced with the dilemma of which child to save, Antonio Gutierres.

I've seen with my own eyes the profound suffering of the Somali people seeking safety and food. Refugee children who die and their mothers, who have become walking skeletons and are faced with the dilemma of which child to save, Antonio Gutierres.

Sometimes we can do nothing by ourselves, we need people to help us make things happen. However, we can work together to change the world and make it a better place.

Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change, Barack Obama.

We always have a choice. We need to be the change we wish to see in the world, we could change our attitude towards the problems and circumstances from indifference to awareness, how we deal with them, improve our knowledge, skills, and competency, join social movements, NGOs, and civil society groups, become social activists and protest against social injustice and its root causes.

For example, when the loss of a family member through death occurs, after the initial time of grief and mourning, we need to accept that life goes on, remember fondly the good times we spent together (“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” Dr. Seuss), comfort the bereaved and eventually move on in life, try to fill that gap with love, etc.

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