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20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem--page 16
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.

Step 16. Visualize Success.

Saying “visualize success” sounds somewhat cliché given all the motivational gurus who have hijacked this term to mean “if you believe it, and can see it, you will be successful.” However, success is more complex than that and cognitive therapy is about being realistic, not about being delusively positive.

That being said, those with low self-esteem are often visualizing all the negative aspects of themselves. They see what may go wrong rather than seeing success. Change the way you view yourself and the outcome of your efforts. Learn to see yourself succeeding at what you try. However, to visualize success requires more than positive thinking. Instead, it is more similar to goal-setting and identifying the steps to achieve the goal. When you take on a task, instead of wasting time thinking about how you will fail, think about the steps it will take to succeed. If it takes more than one or two steps, focus on only the first ones and don't worry about whether you can achieve the rest until you get there. For more information about goal-setting, read Guide to How to Set Achievable Goals.

Imagining success each step along the way doesn't guarantee success, but it does accomplish two things: one, you are not as focused on failure which can cause avoidance or quitting, and two, you are developing a plan for success which increases your odds for achieving your goals.

To summarize, don't visualize unrealistic success. Instead, set realistic goals and visualize how to achieve those goals. The next step will focus on how to enhance this process.


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