Imagining the Self: A Tool for Progress

There is power in the imagination. We know this. A child makes entire worlds in their head, spinning cookery shows out of muddy buckets, rocketing into space without leaving the living room. It is used for learning, exploring possibilities, discovering the self. Adults use imagination to create Film and TV, write books, new inventions we use every day. Even their marketing is a work of the imagination. Yet somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we are told to get our head out of the clouds, be more practical, less of a dreamer. Imagination takes a back seat. For some, it exits the car entirely.

Obviously, you cannot survive on imagination alone. We need to be primed for this world. Life skills make living more…possible! Yet all too often we get so beaten down by what we should know, we forget what a powerful tool imagination can be.

Not long ago, sitting at my computer checking my emails, I saw a short update from the creative storytelling and networking guru Marsha of yesyesmarsha.com. This was all about the power of imagination to create our own internal narrative. When you have an interview for that perfect job (whether you land it or not) you have that sweet spot where you play out the places it can take you. So, say you don’t get the job? Does it make the imagined win any less sweet? It was still a beautiful exciting moment, regardless if it became reality. There is power in this. That imaginary road allowed you to play with your life. The places it took you will be very telling.

The following week, a gorgeous dear friend of mine sent me a link to a really interesting radio show centered around Susan Anderson’s Book, ‘Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Self Sabotage and Healing from Abandonment’. The whole show was very interesting and raised some excellent points centered around how we conduct relationships. Yet there was one thing that struck me as fascinating throughout; using imagination as a healing tool to link the present and future self. In envisioning a future where your goals are being achieved, negative behavior patterns eradicated, you can connect the two selves and draw them together. She describes the process as “physical therapy for the brain”. Writing about this future uses both the “cognitive and emotional brain”, creating a symbiosis where you connect deeper inwards. This creates more understanding in goal setting and how to set markers and achieve more.

This radio show is posted below if you are interested. I truly believe many people would benefit from listening. Though right now I am delving back into imagination:

This is such a powerful innate gift. We aren’t taught to use it, and yet it forms such a deep root in learning and our daily actions. We play out scenarios before we have even truly registered what is happening. It is logistics and playfulness. How many times have you played the “If I won the lottery” game? Dangerous though it is, for better or worse it does highlight what is important to you at that moment in your life. It helps to connect with your desires and your future self.

My friend Jo and I have a running joke; future us will be pissed with past us if we make decisions that ignore the future and only consider the present, often hedonistic moment. Say we borrow money from savings to pay for something silly. Future us will then have to put more money away the next month, which makes them mad! Future us will then want to punch past us in the face… You get the idea. It is a silly game, but one that allows us to remonstrate with the present moment, and hold ourselves accountable in the future. The fact is, holding a connection with your future self is not a given these days. We are living in a world of instant gratification, throwaway consumables, and shiny things. There are so many distractions, so many ways to avoid forward planning and fake responsibility. We forget to take a breath and form a real connection with our path. This involves understanding who we are, what we want to be. It involves work, and the gratification is not instant.

Using imagination can set up a direct link to the person you want to become, allowing you the space to progress towards this. It should be celebrated! Visualising what you want, really seeing future you and choosing of your own steps, it puts the work both inside and outside of you. Writing about these steps, and that projected self, wires the possibilities into your brain and cements the moments before they have happened. And the best part, you can use your imagination anytime! Waiting for a bus, lying in your bed in the dark, sitting in the dentist’s chair. Allowing for these moments is easy. The work comes afterward, in writing about these plans and setting achievable goals.

I encourage you all to use your imagination this week, to play with your future. Put yourself out there and find out where it takes you. When you come back, write about what you found. Being an explorer of your own mind, an adventurer that doesn’t have to leave their living room. Identify with your future self, and set markers for progress on the road. The hope is that, when you finally meet each other, it is with love and respect for what you have achieved. And that you won’t want to punch each other in the face!

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