Good Living | How Visualization Kept Me From Being Eaten By A Shark

| August 20, 2014

Shark-FinEDITORIAL – In 2005, I swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco, with my hands and feet tied. About a month before the swim, I saw a magazine cover that showed what the San Francisco Bay looks like just below its surface. Bad news for me, it was full of sharks and other sea creatures.

From that moment forward, all I could think of was a great white shark eating me for breakfast. Scenes from the movie “Jaws” would visit me in my dreams. I knew I had to get a hold of this almost overwhelming fear if I was going to be able to do my swim.

So, what did I do? I used a technique that Olympic athletes and other high performers have used for years ― visualization. Every day, many times a day, I would picture myself doing the swim. It was like watching a movie of myself successfully swimming all the way to the other side. And, there were no sharks around!

By the time the day of my swim arrived, doing it was just another thing to be done. I’d already “completed” it hundreds of times in my mind. Now, whether it prevented me from being eaten by a shark or not, is debatable, but I have no doubt it allowed me to accomplish my goal.

Not everyone believes in visualization, of course. And there was a time that I didn’t too. It seems too simple, so it’s hard to believe that it could actually be effective. Which brings us to the question, what exactly is visualization?

Visualization is simply imagining what you want, in as much detail as possible, in order to bring it closer to you. The idea behind it is that the mind has the power to manifest things in the real world. Everything begins in the mind.

A great way to start is by closing your eyes and bringing up an image that speaks to you in terms of your future plans. Dwell on that image in great detail. The process is a lot like daydreaming, only you don’t slip into it without your knowledge. You do it deliberately. Think of it as seeing a movie in your mind.

At other times, you can visualize something with your eyes open. This is done by surrounding yourself with things that speak to you. Paintings, collages, even certain colors which help to lift your spirits can be termed visualizations. When you see certain images over and over, you dwell on them and invite them into your life.

So if you want to own a beautiful home with a pool, you might want to look at pictures of homes like this, either by flipping through magazines or making collages that you put up on your wall.

Let me end by saying this. Visualization is certainly not the tell all, end all of achieving a goal. There is no substitute for working hard. However, when combined with visualization there is no limit to what can be accomplished. So, my advice is to look at visualization as just another tool in your arsenal.

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22 Comments on "Good Living | How Visualization Kept Me From Being Eaten By A Shark"

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  1. Jay Platt says:

    If you’d like to, you can see a video of me doing this swim here: http://www.EscapeFromAlcatraz.com.

  2. Wally says:

    Great advice. I have been using visualization since high school gym class. I use visualization before sales calls. I use it when challenged by friends to reach goals. Remember mind over matter. Thanks Jay

  3. Greg Tschanz says:

    Been following you for a bit now, and your constant nonassaulting positivity is starting to change my old Grinchy soul. Will be trying to put this into practice.
    Close my eyes and see my hand signing a Book Deal!

  4. Gene Dasher says:

    Keep up the good work

  5. Chick says:

    Another great article Jay! This is a success tool that I could use right now, thanks.

  6. kerri says:

    great… I was just looking at photos on Houzz, visualizing my living there!

  7. Johnny cook says:

    Awesome insight. Keep it up jay

  8. Joani Statham says:

    Well done Jay. I really enjoy everything you write.

  9. David says:

    I have a vision for my life. I will live it to the fullest and I will be unstoppable! I recently completed a trip down the Alapaha river, from Stockton, GA to Mayday, Ga. There were many challenges and setbacks along the way, but my cousin and I were unstoppable! It was a trip I will remember for the rest of my life! Several trees across the river, and many waterfalls over rocks. Quiet a challenging trip, but one that I will remember for a lifetime! No matter the obstacle’s we faced ahead of us, we overcame each one and reached our goal. Even though we flipped our canoe several times, lost equipment, and had to carry trough things that a weak man would give up on, we were unstoppable and achieved our goal. I am sore today, but I had the time of my life! I have seen things that most people will never see, and I feel a sense of accomplishment. I thought about you along the way. I wish you could have been with us. It was a beautiful though challenging experience.

  10. Dyana Ellis says:

    This is such a great tool, but one we often overlook — or completely underestimate — despite how powerful and effective it is. Thanks for the reminder; maybe this is the trick I need to realize some of those goals that are (stubbornly) not being completed (kitchen reno, for example!).

  11. Alicia Ashcraft says:

    This is a very powerful article! Thank you for your insight and keep up the good work in motivating others to achieve!