How to use your Imagination resource
Who would have imagined, as we welcomed in the new decade, that 2020 would bring a global pandemic that would see us confined to our homes and isolated from others? Imagination is a powerful resource but I doubt many people saw this coming. It is probably safe to say, though, that in these challenging times a lot of us are finding our imaginations running riot and conjuring up all kinds of ‘what if…?’ scenarios. I, for one, have a very vivid imagination and have found my ‘what if…?’ imaginings are leading to all kinds of unpleasant outcomes. For we can all too easily, especially when we are feeling uncertain, misuse our imagination to catastrophise and get ourselves stuck on the ‘worry circuit’. This turning of our imagination inwards, towards our emotional difficulties, is not helpful in keeping us mentally well.
Instead we need to try to harness the power of our imaginations to help us focus away from problems and towards solutions, to use this great resource of ours to our advantage. Our imagination can help us solve problems, be creative, and consider possible courses of action. In fact, we all constantly use our imagination to our advantage in everyday life: whenever we plan an activity, describe a situation or recall a memory for example.
So we all have the potential to use our imagination productively rather than using it to get stuck in unhelpful mental loops. What, then, can we do to promote the healthy use of our imaginations?
- Focus attention away from news or media posts that sensationalise and ramp up worry.
- If you find yourself on the worry circuit, do what you can to calm yourself down, e.g. practise a breathing technique such as 7/11 breathing, so you can think more clearly and flexibly and consider a different, more positive, point of view.
- Envision a positive outcome by imagining all the things you want to do when this is over.
- Use your imagination to create: write, colour/draw, take photos, get imaginative in the kitchen, make a gift for a loved one.
- Take notice of good things to help spark your imagination.
- Use your imagination to quieten your mind, maybe by creating your own peaceful, soothing place in your mind’s eye that you can visit whenever you need to.