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Overcoming Limiting Beliefs Through Positive Imagery

Making progress toward meaningful goals and achieving what we truly want in life is rarely a simple or linear process. Along the way, we often encounter obstacles that cause doubts, limiting beliefs, and feelings of uncertainty to creep in. These negative thought patterns can seriously hinder our motivation and ability to push through challenges. However, there are techniques we can use to regain confidence and shift our mindset in a more empowering direction. One such approach is Functional Imagery Training (FIT), which utilizes multisensory visualization to imagine successful future outcomes. By strengthening our abilities to envision success vividly through our senses, we can overcome doubts and make empowered decisions that propel us closer to our goals and core values.

Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs through Functional Imagery Training

One important first step in FIT is critically reflecting on our core values. Our values act as a guiding compass, showing us the direction we want our lives to head in. It's essential to identify the five things that are most important to us on a fundamental level. This requires tough introspection to distinguish between values that are simply priorities versus those that are truly essential to who we are. For example, is freedom or family more essential? Community or autonomy? Clarifying our top values provides a foundation for envisioning the type of future we want and the decisions that will help get us there.

Once we have established our core values, the next phase of FIT involves enhancing our ability to imagine experiences multisensorially. The stronger we can conjure up sights, sounds, smells, tastes and physical sensations through visualization, the more impactful the training will be. Taking time each day to vividly recall past positive experiences using our senses helps strengthen this skill. We can also practice by imagining calm, empowering scenarios related to present challenges we face. The sharper our sensory imagery abilities, the easier it becomes to envision confident, value-driven versions of ourselves overcoming obstacles.

When decision points arise, our internal dialogue and ability to envision various outcomes multisensorially play a crucial role in empowering moves toward our goals. If we allow past failures or limiting beliefs to hijack our thinking, visualization of potential scenarios will likely seem disempowering. However, taking time through FIT to deliberately imagine confident, value-driven versions of ourselves handling situations successfully sets us up to make choices that propel us closer to what's important.

It's also important to establish cues as reminders to shift our focus when doubt or disempowering thoughts creep in. A simple cue like taking deep breaths, tapping our wrist three times or repeating an empowering phrase gives us space from triggers to bring up our cultivated positive visualizations. This helps us persevere through difficult conversations or challenges instead of allowing anxiety to derail progress. With practice over time, FIT strengthens our ability to overcome limiting beliefs by tapping into motivation through multisensory imagery of successful future states aligned with our core values.

Strategies for Overcoming Doubt and Disempowering Thoughts During Decision-Making

Here are some additional strategies for overcoming doubt and disempowering thoughts during decision-making:

  • Consult your core values. When doubt creeps in, take time to consciously reflect on your top 5 values. Remembering what really matters can help boost confidence in decisions aligned with who you want to be.

  • Envision best-case scenarios. Deliberately imagine in detail how choosing a particular option could lead to positive outcomes connected to your goals and values. Vivid sensory visualization counters negative "what ifs."

  • Reframe doubts as cares. A helpful reframing is that doubts often reflect caring deeply about making the right choice. Address concerns at their root to make informed decisions.

  • Get perspective from others. Discussing options with trusted others can provide reality checks on doubt-inducing thoughts and new insights. Their support can strengthen resolve.

  • Consider past successes. Recall past examples of overcoming doubts or facing fears, and how you grew as a result. Reflect on demonstrating similar courage now.

  • Accept uncertainty as natural. Complete certainty is rare - acknowledge doubt as human, and commit to choosing confidently despite unknowns.

  • Trust your insights over time. With reflection, clarity on choices aligned with who you want to become often emerges. Have faith that continuing efforts move you in right direction.

Proactively countering doubt through strategies like these empowers staying true to one's values amid challenging decision points.


FIT provides a viable framework for overcoming limiting beliefs, doubts, and disempowering thoughts that can derail progress toward meaningful life goals and decisions. By establishing our core values, boosting multisensory imagery skills, envisioning best-case scenarios, and maintaining empowering cues, we can shift our internal dialogue and decision-making into a more confident, motivated space. While challenges and uncertainties will always be part of the process, proactively countering doubts through strategies like FIT strengthens our resolve to stay true to who we want to become despite obstacles. With persistent practice over time, functional imagery training can empower us to overcome barriers and achieve our most important dreams and ambitions.


Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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