Unraveling “The Secret”

Imagination is everything. It is a preview of life’s coming attractions.

– Albert Einstein, physicist

What would be compelling enough to become one of the most popular ‘self-help’ DVDs to date, a #1 best-seller, plus prompt Oprah Winfrey to devote two shows to explore the subject? The answer – “The Secret.”

What is “The Secret” and does it really give you the tools to be successful in every area of your life? Many would argue so. Others might dismiss it as too simple, magical thinking or a passing fad.

Those not familiar with the “law of attraction” or “manifestation” might also dismiss the concept out of ignorance or fear. I can’t even begin to imagine how senior managers in the highly pressured business world might react when reading, “Your thoughts determine your frequency” and “Your feelings determine what frequency you are on,” or “Embrace your magnificence now.”


The Secret

The real secret to “The Secret” is that you can manage your mind. You are in control of your thoughts and can profoundly influence your life.


I want you to look beyond the language and recognize the reality of why one of the core components of “The Secret” – visualization – works.

The Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli writes in “The Act of Will”: “Images and mental pictures tend to produce the physical conditions and external acts that correspond to them.”

Let’s start with a basic principle of the mind, one that you can experiment with as I describe it: Where you focus unleashes the power of your creative imagination to create.

Focus, right now, on something in the future that you fear might happen, something a bit scary. Take your time. As you use your imagination, pay attention to the specific pictures and images, the visualization of what might happen that you are conjuring up.

What emotion do you feel? If you are playing the game, you will feel emotion. You understand, I trust, that you are making that mental movie up, don’t you?

Now, switch your thoughts and focus on something that you are looking forward to, something fun or relaxing – a vacation, seeing a movie, hugging someone you love, being with a friend, making a big sale, creating your own business, having a child. What emotions do you feel with this mental movie?

I just guided you to focus on and visualize both a negative possible experience and a positive possible experience – in the future – that you made up. Which one do you prefer: the negative experience or the positive experience? Not much of a contest there.

How you visualize your future is really your choice because where you choose to focus DIRECTS your creative imagination to create.

This is vitally important for you to understand because you can consciously, or unconsciously, create positive or negative pictures, or images, in your mind which will have great impact on how you feel. That, in itself, is a pretty significant reason for you to choose what and how to visualize.

As the Greek philosopher Plato wrote, “Take charge of your thoughts. You can do what you want with them.” But, wait! There’s more!

What would happen if I asked you to vividly imagine or picture fair-haired men and blonde women and then, holding on to that image, you walk into a crowed mall? Who would you notice? Of course you would notice people with flaxen hair. In fact, if you were totally focused, those individuals with dark hair would fade in to the background or, in a sense, become invisible – because you weren’t paying attention to them.

If I sent you on a mission to walk around your local community and notice everyone who was in a foul mood, wouldn’t it be logical that you would ‘see’ people in bad moods?

Now, switch the visualization. Imagine that you went on a mission to see people who were in good moods. Here’s another fact about your thinking: your mindset determines what you see. Doesn’t that make sense?

If so, wouldn’t the way you think, your mental mind set, your visualization, work the same way in every area of your life? Of course it does. The people you ‘attract’, ‘notice’ and bring in your life are a direct reflection of the way you think. That includes your friends, the groups you may belong to and, if you are in business, your managers or customers.

Doesn’t it seem like, right now, might be a good time in your life to do a reality check and acknowledge what and whom you attract?

If you don’t like what you see, perhaps you might actually be able to change your ‘reality’ by changing the way you think. I hope that’s enticing.

My wife is a movie critic who drives into Manhattan to see approximately 360 films a year. Would you believe that she is able to find a parking space about 80% of the time? Here’s where it gets tricky, as some might consider finding parking spaces a miracle. That is, unless you understand the core of “The Secret.” First, she has made an internal commitment. She absolutely refuses to pay $30 or more to park in a garage. So she unconsciously visualizes finding a parking space on the street. That, in turn, sets up a positive expectation, which, in turn, allows her to notice or pick up subtle clues, which others, like me, might miss (i.e. someone walking down the street glancing in the direction of a car, someone sitting in a car getting ready to vacate a space) that guide her to achieve the result she wants

As with visualizing blondes or parking spaces, that’s how you create what you have in your life – all the time. You visualize. You set up expectations, positive or negative, which govern what you see and, therefore, what choices are available.

As Dr. Charles Garfield, former NASA scientist and power-lifter, wrote in his book “Peak Performers,”” The key to success in all walks of life is picturing or visualizing the exact, precise way you want an event to go.”

Don’t you think all this gives you enough reasons to pro-actively take charge of your mind and visualize what you really want? I hope so. And I hope you will try it. You can focus on fear- based thinking, doom and gloom futures, rejections or failure. Or, you can start, right now, this minute, to create positive, joyful, loving, productive, exciting and compelling visualization.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Choose one positive goal or outcome that you would like to create – mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally or socially – personally or professionally.
  • Close your eyes and ‘visualize’ the goal you want as – already complete. See it ‘as if’ is has already happened. Live in your mind in that moment. See and feel the end result.
  • Make your visualization vivid, colorful and full of detail including sound.
  • Add a positive, powerful emotion to your mental movie.
  • Focus on it often and then – let it go.

The real secret to “The Secret” is that you can manage your mind. You are in control of your thoughts and you can greatly and profoundly influence the outcome of every aspect of your life. Go for it!

James Mapes is a keynote speaker, best-selling author, coach and hypnotist. His most recent book IMAGINE THAT! Igniting Your Brain for Creativity and Peak Performance is the first web-supported book with access to 21 video-coaching clips.