The Images We Hold Create Our Reality


Images Create Reality

When I ask people to describe what it would look like if there were world peace, it’s hard for them to conjure up specific images or descriptions. However, they easily provide vivid descriptions of what a post-World War III world would look like. All they have to do is describe a recent movie or a video game.

On a daily basis we are bombarded with images of destruction in movies, on television and even in electronic games that children play. In contrast, we see few images of a positive future.

The images we hold in our mind have a tremendous impact on the reality we create.

Positive images are not easy to find, but there are more than the media would lead you to believe. There are companies doing wonderful work, like Grace Hearth. You can find examples in The Global Girls Project of inspiring stories of courage and leadership and in Whitney Johnson’s Dare to Dream Blog that shares stories of people who acted on their dreams.

We must actively seek out positive images or our sense of reality will be unbalanced. Many wonderful and powerful things are happening everyday. But we have to look for them because they won’t be presented to us in the media.

Nelson Mandela understood the power of a holding a collective positive image.

Arrested in 1962 for his role in resistance to South Africa’s apartheid policy of racial segregation, he spent the 27 years in prison. Following his release in 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that ended apartheid. In 1994 when he became president, the country was divided, fueled by anger and desire for revenge. By all rights, Mandela himself had every reason to be angry and vengeful. However, he chose a different path.

Holding a vision of a united country, Mandela’s leadership modeled forgiveness and reconciliation. Using the rally call, “one team, one country” he at once acknowledged the existing division and created an image of what unity could look like – joining the factions to together in support of their rugby team. With national attention and the support of their entire country holding that image, their underdog team, The Springboks, miraculously won the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

This brief, powerful documentary shows the real events that occurred in Nelson Mandela’s attempt to unify his broken country. It demonstrates what is possible when people hold a collective positive image that represents what reconciliation, unity and peace.

ESPN Espy Award – Nelson Mandela Documentary

Seek and create positive images. Although we are bombarded with negative images, we can we seek out positive examples and images to guide us toward a collective future that works for all of us. There are simple things you can do on a daily basis. Share positive stories instead of negative ones.

As a leader, share the positive examples of what’s going right on your team. Unify your team with a common vision. As a parent or teacher, involve your children in positive efforts that are working to improve your community.

According to Peter Drucker, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” What future are you helping to create? – not just for yourself, but for all of us – for our collective future?

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9 comments to The Images We Hold Create Our Reality

  • Focus on what’s working, instead of what’s not working. Make what’s working a story for people to get excited about. I love this, Jesse! Thanks for another awesome blog post.

  • Thank you Jessie. Holding a positive view of the future has recently come under attack from folks who are fearful that it’s naive and means we are not using our critical thinking skills. Yes, the folks who developed ‘The secret’ are kidding themselves. But, the anti-positive thinkers tend to be of the scientific mindset so it’s not in her interest to stop deconstructing and critiquing everything – they can’t skip to what could be working in the future. We can. They are lucky to have us around.

    • Jesse Lyn Stoner Jesse Lyn Stoner

      Well said, Alan. There needs to be a counter-balance. I’m not recommending putting on rose colored glasses. But it seems to me that we have swung so far in the direction of negativity that we are stuck in the mud. Thinking positively is different than creating positive images. One is whistling in the dark, the other is envisioning what could be. Without a beacon, there is nothing to guide us forward.

  • Jesse,

    Great post! I love your thought — “the images we hold in our mind have a tremendous impact on the reality we create.”

    I’m a big believer in the power of reframing; of viewing our struggles as openings for growth, while envisioning a positive outcome. Developing a positive vision for the future not only enables hope, essential to our capacity to overcome challenges and setbacks, but opens ourselves and our communities to new possibilities.


  • I have so much to say to this, but that would be multiple blogs in itself. It is easy to get carried away in the drama and the negative pictures, particularly because some people become so attached to those images, that it defines them.

    It then feels almost like a betrayal to change the story, hence some find it hard to let go.

    “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. I am not sure of the original source but I heard that line from Dr Wayne Dyer. I fully agree with that observation.

    • Jesse Lyn Stoner Jesse Lyn Stoner

      Very interesting, Thabo. I hadn’t considered the inability to disengage from negative images as related to a betrayal of self-image. Absolutely makes sense. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here and depending the conversation.

  • Gurmeet Singh Pawar

    Didn’t read your post, just saw the video, Not much words to say except salute the spirit. Thanks for sharing, this wonderful story.

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