5 ways using a vision board can improve emotional wellbeing
Vision boards are a visual compilation of images designed to help you manifest your goals. You may remember using corkboards as a student as a way to motivate yourself and keep track of your achievements. Turns out, the psychology behind this is backed by science — images help the brain recognise opportunities that primes one’s subconscious through a process known as “value-tagging.”
Creating a vision board can be a productive form of imagination therapy to heal the mind and soul. In this article I’ll take you through an exercise: how I use vision boards to create an oasis of wellbeing for myself.
1. Vision boards as an effective visualisation tool
Self-esteem is closely tied to self-image. What we “see” whether in reality or in the mind’s eye shapes the way we perceive others and ourselves. A vision board is a practical tool that reminds us that perceptions can be moulded.
2. A vision board can help you manifest your dreams
But not in the way you may be led to think by the manifesting gurus. I like to think of vision boards as a way to self-regulate emotions, rather than as a motivational exercise. You can choose to pin images of what you view as the dream life you want to live — health, career success, family, material wealth etc. — the dream sold by most vision board books.
When I was in my twenties, that was literally my dream too… I’m 39 now and while I’m more than grateful for what I have, I think I’d take the chance to tell my younger self that it’s far more valuable to focus on emotional well-being. As a doctor, I am privileged to have shared in the lives of many who were suffering, either physically or mentally in spite of material wealth and success. So all I can say is, I don’t think manifesting materialism is worth it…at the end of it all.
What if instead, we choose to manifest strength, resilience, harmony with self, others — and love? The toxic people we encounter, I suspect — are most toxic to themselves. Critical attitudes, prejudice and judgemental behaviours are merely outward symptoms of a deeper disease eating at the sufferer’s soul — self-loathing.
3. Vision board for self-love and resilience
Have you ever been in a place where you had everything, and yet felt like it meant nothing to you? Another finds herself in a place where everything she had was stripped from her, and yet she felt full on the inside. If we were to change our minds about what success means, moving away from societal conventions of material markers — prioritising inner wellbeing over all — I suspect that does that make us more resilient to a lifetime of fluctuations outside our control.
4. Vision board to live intentionally
Intentional living means being clear about what you set out to achieve. That can be different at various stages of our lives. But the constant can be your self-identity — rooted in self-love. Be patient with yourself, and learn to view every day that passes as an intentional exercise in self-care and self-love — like the nurturing of the roots of a young sapling — knowing that it will one day, become a tree.
5. Vision board to increase productivity and become “unstuck”
Our fixations are really our struggles too — but there is a deeper root to that. We may feel disappointed when we encounter obstacles or negativity and it is natural to want to give up. Vision boards are a useful reminder of the purpose we have in our lives — it surrounds us with messages we need to become “unstuck” — once we realise that every day is an exercise, we learn to welcome challenges as opportunities for growth.
Dr. Teo Wan Lin is a board-certified dermatologist, beauty entrepreneur and founder of clinical skincare brand Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals. Her podcast Dermatologist Talks: Science of Beauty covers the roles neuroaesthetics and philosophy play in the perception of beauty. Her published research includes that in the field of the brain-skin axis, which explores themes of body dysmorphophobia in the age of cosmetic dermatology. Dr. Teo’s commentary “On Thoughts, Emotions, Facial Expressions and Aging”, published in the International Journal of Dermatology is a position paper highlighting the intersection of philosophy, psychology and biology in the perception of aging faces. Subscribe to her newsletter Letters to Beauty.