Are You Using Your Imagination for Good or Evil?

Are You Using Your Imagination for Good or Evil?

When I was (a lot) younger I used to love going to bed, closing my eyes and thinking about a boy at school that I liked until I drifted off to sleep.

I would imagine him declaring his love for me, imagine us holding hands in the halls, I imagined us cuddling under a tree in the park and I imagined him giving me presents such as a scented nail varnish – which were all the rage back then. ⠀⁠

(Honestly, who smells their fingers enough to benefit from a scented nail varnish? Actually, don’t answer)⁠

Do you remember a time when you used to always use your imagination for fun?⁠

When we were little we used to LOVE to play, to pretend, to make things up and generally take advantage of our amazing human ability to think whatever the hell we want

But who still does this as a grown-up? Do we lie in bed imagining all the amazing things that may happen, conjuring up incredible adventures and wondering about all the magical possibilities of life?⠀⁠

Or do we lie in bed, or go shopping, or take the dog for a poop, or wash our hair, all the while thinking of all the possible catastrophes which might happen, and then try and find solutions to them?

It’s the same thing. Either way, we are using our amazing power of imagination to make stuff up. Why make it terrible? It’s all made up anyway!

Isn’t it really cool that we have this tool – our thinking – to create all sorts of stories and scenarios in our head, then we get to ‘feel’ what we have thought? 

(…because we feel our thinking. I have covered this somewhere, right? It’s a big one! If there’s no link there then I must be hunting for the page at the exact moment you’re reading this.) 

Yes, we have this amazing tool. But most of us are using it to create cyclones of worry, overthinking and stress. 

Here comes the metaphor

It’s like having a kitchen with all the possible ingredients in limitless amounts. We get to make whatever we want and then eat it. 

As kids we used this ‘kitchen of thought’ to create delicious treats, having an awesome time making them and then gobbling up our treats with delight. We’d experiment with different recipes and if we didn’t like something, we didn’t eat it. We’d make something new. 

Us grown-ups are using our thought-kitchen to make the same old foul-tasing crap. We use stale ingredients, or pick yesterdays half-eaten mess out of the bin and add more stuff to it. 

We aren’t using the infinite ingredients available. We aren’t having fun in the kitchen. And we are most certainly not well-nourished on our diet of mouldy, unappealing, stale worries. 

Ok, back to the point

When I chat about this with my clients – how they’re innocently using their thoughts, their imagination, to create bad feelings – many say the same type of thing, along the lines of: 

“If I didn’t worry about what might happen, I wouldn’t be prepared if it did”

As in: “Worry helps me. Worrying is the thing that gives me solutions”

This is wrong. It’s a complete misunderstanding and it’s keeping us stuck and miserable. 

Worry is NOT the thing giving us solutions. Solutions occur to us despite our worrying. But when an ‘answer’ appears somewhere amid the worrying, it looks like the worrying created it. We mistakenly believe that if we worry enough, we’ll know what to do. 

What if the answers you need, the solutions that will help, will occur to you without you doing anything at all?

What if, actually, the worry was clogging up your mind so much that the solutions are fighting to be realised? What if, if we can come to worry less, we’ll have the answers we need a lot darn sooner?

What if, when we come to see that worry is really rather useless, we naturally do it less and less?

Wouldn’t that be nice? 

Ok, what now?

Try it out with lightness and curiosity. Next time you find yourself caught up in worried thinking (I’m sure you’ll get the chance pretty soon given you are a human being), wonder if anything you need to know will occur without engaging in the worry spiral. 

You could try parking it. Promise your worried mind that you’ll look into their concerns in a week if it’s still a problem, but until then you’ll just hang out and see what you see. 

If this feels totally ick and uncomfortable, that’s ok! We are so used to thinking our worry is useful that dismissing it can feel weird. 

This is just a suggestion and not a thing to do if it doesn’t feel good to you. Perhaps ask yourself how you would ‘find out’ if solutions came to you without worrying about them, and give that a go.

Or, do absolutely nothing and not give this post another thought. 

Peace out my friend ✌?

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