Robert F. Mulllen, PhD
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“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI – deliberate, repetitive, neural information.” – WeVoice (Madrid)
This is a draft of Chapter Twenty-Five – “Affirmative Visualization” in ReChanneling’s upcoming book on moderating social anxiety disorder and its comorbidities. We present this as an opportunity for readers to share their ideas and constructive criticism – suggestions gratefully considered and evaluated as we work to ensure the most beneficial product to those with emotional malfunction (which is all of us to some degree). Please forward your comments in the form provided below.
You are more productive by doing fifteen minutes of visualization
than from sixteen hours of hard labor.” — Abraham Hicks
Affirmative Visualization is a form of graded exposure ― systematic desensitization that reduces our anxiety in structured, less threatening environments. We label the process Affirmative to counteract our natural negative bias and predisposition to set negative outcome scenarios due to our consistent negative self-beliefs and images.
Affirmative Visualization is scientifically supported through studies and the neuroscientific understanding of our neural network. Positive Personal Affirmations (PPAs) are concise, predetermined, positive statements. Affirmative Visualizations are positive outcome scenarios that we mentally recreate by imagining or visualizing them. Both are underscored by the Laws of Learning, which explain what conditions must be present for learning (or unlearning) to occur.
Space is Limited
Through Affirmative Visualization, we envision behaving in a certain way and, through deliberate repetition, attain an authentic shift in our behavior and perspective. It is a form of proactive neuroplasticity, and all the neural benefits of that science are accrued by visualization.
Our brain is in a constant mode of learning; it never stops realigning to information. With each input, connections strengthen and weaken, neurons atrophy and others are born, energy dissipates and expands, and beneficial hormones are neurally transmitted.
Proactively stimulating our brain with deliberate, repetitive neural information utilizing Affirmative Visualization accelerates and consolidates learning (and unlearning), producing a correlated change in thought, behavior, and perspective. These changes become habitual and spontaneous over time.
Our brain provides the same neural restructuring when we visualize doing something or when we physically do it; the same regions of our brain are stimulated. Just as our neural network cannot distinguish between toxic and productive information, it also does not distinguish whether we are experiencing something or imagining it. Visualizing raising our left hand is, to our brain, the same thing as physically raising our left hand.
The thalamus is the small structure within our brain located just above the stem between the cerebral cortex and the midbrain. It has extensive nerve connections to both. All information passes through the thalamus. By visualizing something, we increase activity in the thalamus and our brain responds as though the activity is really happening.
Our thalamus makes no distinction between inner and outer realities. It does not distinguish whether we are imagining something or experiencing it. Thus, any idea, if contemplated long enough, will take on a semblance of reality. If we visualize a solution to a problem, the problem begins to resolve itself because visualizing activates the cognitive circuits involved with our working memory.
Research shows that visualizing an event in advance improves our mental and physical performance. When we visualize what we want to achieve, we consciously source information that will improve our performance outcomes, dramatically improving the likelihood of success in the real situation.
Like our positive personal affirmations, Affirmative Visualization is a mental exercise that consolidates with repetition. Example: Our feared situation is making a presentation to our classmates. We devise our Feared Situations Plan to make that happen. We then recreate the scenario in our mind, just as we have outlined it. We close our eyes and use our imagination to experience the entirety of the situation.
We visualize the event and its successful outcome, imagining each detail, our attitude, and the reactions of others. We imagine the influx of cortisol and adrenaline dissipating every time we take a deep breath, slow talk, or utilize another coping mechanism. We set reasonable expectations that can be achieved because we are well-rehearsed, and have a plan that covers most contingencies.
We visualize mitigating our anxiety and performing better, or we envision being a more empathetic or competent individual. Our neural repatterning will help us achieve those goals. The more we visualize with a clear intent the more focused we become and the higher the probability of achieving our objectives. Affirmative Visualization activates our dopaminergic-reward system, decreasing the neurotransmissions of anxiety and fear-provoking hormones, and accelerating and consolidating the beneficial ones. When we visualize, our brain generates alpha waves which, neuroscientists have discovered, can dramatically reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series
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Comments. Suggestions. Constructive Criticism.
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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT? ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional malfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.