bad at visualization? try this

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If you're like me, you're the sort of person who reads this sort of thing and thinks "Well, I could do that if I wanted to, but I don't want to." Please actually do this. It only takes a few minutes, and I bet you'll be impressed.


This is a simple test that I suspect will show you that your "bad visualization" is better than you think.


The first spoiler tag hides a list of words. Give yourself 30 seconds to memorize them, then cover the words again, open up a text document, and write out as many as you can remember in order. When you've done that, open a new text document and write out as many as you can remember--in reverse order.



1. Telephone

2. Sausage

3. Monkey

4. Button

5. Book



8. Mouse

9. Stomach

10. Cardboard

11. Ferry

12. Christmas

13. Athlete

14. Key

15. Wigwam

16. Baby

17. Kiwi

18. Bed

19. Paintbrush

20. Walnut



Didn't remember many words, did you? I think I had about five of them, two were out of order, and somehow another word that didn't even belong made its way onto my list. It's fine if you're in the same boat.


So now, read the text under the following spoiler tag. It's the same word list, but this time each word has been paired with the next word on the list, and a little scene has been written to help you imagine the two words together. Do your best to imagine what you're reading in as vivid detail as you can. When you're done reading, open a new text document and try to list all of the words in order. Then close it, open a new document, and try to list the words in reverse order.


Warning: some of these will be a little disgusting. That's deliberate, and it helps you to visualize them.



Telephone/Sausage: Trying to dial an old fashioned telephone using flaccid uncooked sausages. Its utterly impractical to work the dial. It feels revolting and cold to the fingers.


Sausage/Monkey: Watching footage from a wildlife documentary of a monkey, in the jungle, cooking sausages over a barbecue. These are rare monkeys, this is first time they have been captured on film


Monkey/Button: You no longer have to spend valuable time doing up your own shirt buttons. You now have a trained monkey to do it for you. You stand there in your socks and he works away doing up your buttons.


Button/Book: It’s a book entirely about buttons, and in order to open it you have to unfasten a line of big colourful buttons down the side. Hugely impractical marketing gimmick. Makes opening it very irritating.


Book/Cabbage: Opening up a book to have a quiet read at lunch time, only to find that all of the pages have leaves of rotten stinking cabbage stuck to them. It smells disgusting and the pages are ruined.


Cabbage/Glass: A beautiful but enormous cabbage created out of glass. The artist is proudly showing it off, flicking it with his fingers and making a ‘pinging’ sound. Everyone is standing around with glasses of wine appreciating it. Personally, you think it’s ridiculous.


Glass/Mouse: You go to drink a glass of wine, to find that the wine has gone and there is a tiny mouse at the bottom of the glass. The mouse is clearly drunk and is wearing a party hat with streamers over his shoulder.


Mouse/Stomach: Imagine an extremely bad stomach pain which turns out to be a family of mice living in your stomach. They all come streaming out of your ass. The relief is horrifying.


Stomach/Cardboard: A pregnant lady covering her stomach with cardboard from old boxes. Taping it around her. Now she feels protected.


Cardboard/Ferry: Image the Staten Island ferry sinking into the Hudson river because in a spectacularly misjudged move to save money, the entire boat was manufactured out of cardboard.


Ferry/Christmas: A little ferry sat on top of a Christmas tree, perhaps at a school for the hard of hearing. Little streamers around the hull.


Christmas/Athlete: Your grandmother on Christmas day having her annual race against Usain Bolt. She’s doing superbly giving the World Record holder a run for his money.


Athlete/Key: The winning athlete is given a 4-foot-long golden key on a ribbon as a prize. She tries to hold it aloft but it is so heavy she wishes she could just have an ordinary medal.


Key/Wigwam: A key hangs unnoticed from the headgear of a Native American Indian who is unable to get into his wigwam to use the toilet. Hugely frustrating for him. You can see him searching frantically as you watch the key glinting in the sun.


Wigwam/Baby: New aged fad, placing your baby to sleep in a wigwam. Imagine a giant baby asleep inside, snoring, making the sides of the wigwam suck in and blow out.


Baby/Kiwi: A baby shoving green furry kiwi fruit into its mouth. One after another. A huge pile of them waiting to be eaten. Kiwi juice all down his bib, vomiting kiwi everywhere. He loves kiwi fruit.


Kiwi/Bed: Tucking up a little Kiwi for the night in a big king-sized bed. Sitting next to it and reading it a story until it falls asleep.


Bed/Paintbrush: You’ve changed the décor of your bedroom and the bed no longer matches. So rather than buy new covers, you decide to paint them the same colours as the wall. Sloshing paint over the entire bed. Watching it go hard and uncomfortable.


Paintbrush/Walnut: Not owning a nutcracker you’re forced to try and open a huge walnut with a paintbrush. You’re using the brush end and it isn’t working. There’s paint splashing everywhere but you really want that walnut.



Did you do better? I don't consider myself very good at visualization, but my recall went up from a handful of words to every single word. I actually forgot how many words there were, but I knew when I had written out the entire list. I wrote them just as easily in reverse order. The only mistake that I made was turning



Christmas tree

, which is a pretty small error, all things considered.


If you're interested, this comes from the book Tricks of the Mind, by Derren Brown.

"Some things have to be believed to be seen." - Ralph Hodgson

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You have some work to do defo, you should also read Harry lorayne's book, I find that one to be better.



Anyway, heres what you could do better:


Work on your transitions a bit more, for example:


You went from atttaching buttons to a book about buttons, you also went from a mouse drinking whine to a mouse .. in your belly? I totally understand how it connects, you just haven't put in much detail in how it does the transition.



Another trick is to make each next object bigger or more active.


Playing with colors can also help you.


pick colors for each numbers 0 to 9


Heres my set of color for example:


0 - white

1 - yellow

2 - orange

3 - red

4 - pink

5 - green

6 - purple

7 - blue

8 - cyan/sky

9 - Turquoise


Make for example the first item in your list white (I count starting from 0, but thats up to you)


So lets say for example you go trough your list a month later, and you forget some part, but one object/thing you remember is red, you'll know its the 3th object in the list at least.



Associating colors to number is useful for creating a PAO system (IM pretty sure you are familiar with that if you've read book about memory mnemonics).


I have not seen so far anybody use colors in a PAO system.


at the same time I use the fonetic alphabet pegs or sth like that alongside.


The more you make links to something, the more you will remember it.



If you want to get creative you can also make your last object interact with the first one (kinda like a loop) Helps a lot when you want to recall your list backward when you only remember the first 2 or 3 object (instead of having to try to recall every object until the last)

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Oddly enough, I seemed to do better without the descriptions. Granted, I got something like 5 in order and 0 in reverse order without the descriptions, which shows the kind of memory that I have, but after reading the descriptions, my first response was "What was the first one again?".


It should also be noted that I saw absolutely no mental images while reading the descriptions, although I reacted to the text (e.g. "ew what") while trying to imagine it.

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I only got 4 words right on the first test. Two days after reading this thread I can still remember every single word on the list. In fact, I can't stop thinking about telephone sausage monkey buttons.

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