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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

7 Ways Your Imagination Can Change Your Life

7 Ways Your Imagination Can Change Your Life

While it’s often likened to daydreaming, strategically using imagination to change your life takes a little more skill development and engaged focus. The great news is that it doesn’t need to cost you a cent to get started, and the benefits you can achieve are unlimited!

Using your imagination to change and improve parts of your life requires planning, practice, and technique refinement. However, set against carefully crafted goals, you can transform the world around you. If you’re not familiar with ways to use your imagination to turn your life around, it’s time to discover the power of that little pot of gold nestled in that grey matter between your ears.

What Powers Your Imagination and Perception Is Incredibly Similar

Your imagination is undoubtedly one of the most powerful change agents that is 100% governed by you. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging studies, researchers have found that those areas of the brain that help you imagine visuals are highly similar to those that allow you to see them in reality. They documented that approximately 90% overlapped with the most active frontal and parietal regions.[1]

The research results indicate that the more skilled an individual is at exercising imagery techniques, the more similar the activation in those brain regions become. The reason is that the mental control processes operating in both actual perception and imagery areas are almost the same.

This suggests that if there is little difference between the memory we develop from our imagination and perception of actual experience, we have higher power to influence the lens through which we perceive and experience future events. If you alter our understanding and start using imagination to change your life, you have a more exceptional ability to shape your future!

1. Exercising Your Imagination Strengthens Confidence to Chase Greater Goals

If you don’t dare to dream, you already deny yourself the right to lead a possibly fulfilling life, which can be beyond your current safety-zone mindset. Allowing your imagination to be cheeky unleashes your capacity to explore your potential in ways you may never have imagined.

You can take risks in your mind and consider potential consequences – good and bad – without experiencing the latter in reality. In fact, no one needs even to know what you’re thinking about! You can entertain a universe of possibilities in the safety of your private thought space anytime, anywhere.

Using imagination to change your life and dream of possibilities helps determine what actions you need to take. Where your mind goes, energy flows. Constructive and strategic use of your imagination governs the direction in which your efforts will take you. After all, as you dream of the possibilities, you unconsciously and automatically explore how you relate to them.

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The focus of your attention tells your brain what is important and what to notice. Because your mind predominantly functions as a problem-solving device, what you deliberately think about and imagine will strengthen neurocircuitry’s activation, helping you find opportunities to bring those things to fruition.

2. You Improve Personal Effectiveness in Concentration, Productivity, and Happiness

According to Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, our minds are wandering off on subjects that we’re not meant to be doing 46.9% of the time.[2] It entails that this aimless mind-wandering typically makes people unhappy.

Meanwhile, Harvard professor Dr. Srini Pillay explains how we can steer our wandering imagination through positive, constructive daydreaming (PCD) to serve us better and increase our happiness.[3] While engaging in a pressure-free activity such as knitting, walking, or gardening, we gently direct our minds to percolate and think around ideas, possibilities, and problems. Pillay suggests starting with imagining something playful or relaxing in your mind’s eye. Then, pivot toward expanding your imagination to explore opportunities as you hold this fun image in your head.

As you see yourself reclining on the deck of a yacht sailing in the Bahamas, you feel the sun’s warmth. Your lungs are grateful to inhale pristine clean air fully; you can smell the seawater. This scenario relaxes your mind and body. And as you lay there, you think about your priorities and plans.

Strategically planting periods throughout the day improves our concentration and productivity by creating relaxed and pressure-free spaces in our minds. We’re no longer mind-wandering aimlessly. Instead, we’re creatively thinking and having a far more enjoyable time as we do it! If you need more help to boost your productivity, check this out: 50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

3. You Become More Attuned to Opportunities That Fit Your Goals and Priorities

Stretching and practicing painting the picture of your ideals also helps you recognize if your sights are genuinely aligned with what’s important. Think big. Try on the journey you think might have to take for size. Imagine what it would feel like to meet that goal.

Think of role models who have experienced the recognition that you aspire to happen to yourself.

  • Do you have similar qualities and attributes?
  • Do you recognize what it took for a person to achieve certain milestones and surpass them?
  • Looking at their journey, do you imagine confronting the same challenges?
  • Can you see yourself acquiring the knowledge and learning the skills that others had to get to reach their goals?
  • How can your experience be the same or different?

Just doing this simple, imaginative comparison might start you thinking the following:

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  • “I’m different from them in many ways. I might consider doing things somewhat differently.”
  • “I’m not sure I want to take the path they took.”
  • “Some of the challenges I see them experiencing would not be so tough.”
  • “I can do some of those things. Others I see I will have to learn.”

As you make these comparisons, you should start to get a sense of what similarities you bear and where the differences lie between you and your role model concerning your unique characteristics and capabilities. It would help if you started to get a stronger sense of whether the goal you are chasing also fits you or if it is what you want.

Suppose you sense that your current aspiration does not feel right or is not healthily energizing to you. In that case, your imagination helps you see that you need to pivot and explore in a different direction. As you allow your imagination to explore, notice whether you feel resistance or desire to think in another direction.

Not feeling passion when your imagination visits certain places suggests that it’s time to move on to different expeditions to discover what goals may suit you better. (Learn more about setting goals in this guide: How To Set Your Goals And Achieve Them Without Stress)

4. Regular Imagery Exercise Can Reduce Stress and Improve Mental and Physical Well-Being

Numerous studies have documented improvements in mental and physical well-being after exercising guided imagery. The most effective methods teach individuals to access all their human senses — taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight — throughout an imagery sequence combined with powerful breathing techniques.

Working with a skilled therapist to develop imagery skills is highly worth the investment if your goal is to decrease stress and pain, improve calmness, or simply quiet your mind. Skillful imagery of relaxing subjects, situations, and stories can lower your blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and relax muscle tension without you even thinking about it.

Guided imagery is increasingly getting considered as an alternative to pain management medication. In a meta-analysis that reviews the effect of guided imagery on patients with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, all studies showed statistically significant improvements in observed outcomes.[4]

Individuals have been taught to imagine what it would be like to experience freedom in joint movement. They see and feel themselves moving freely without pain while directing healing messages in their minds to parts of their body that experience pain and inflammation.

You can use similar techniques to accelerate your recovery whenever you are feeling poorly. You can practice accessing memories of when you have been fully well, or create pictures of yourself as you feel radiant, emotionally balanced, and alive with healthy energy and a clear mind. Use these methods along with physical and dietary healing strategies to increase your control over your recovery speed.

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5. You Can Heal Emotional Pain and Discomfort to Move Forward in Your Life

Your imagination can play a particularly powerful and liberating role in releasing and diffusing emotional pain, which may be affecting how you live today. Imagery is increasingly used to treat anxiety and mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, and sports performance.

Two primary forms of imagery being applied in psychotherapeutic settings are imaginal exposure and imagery rescripting.[5] Individuals’ imagery skills develop with the aid of a trained and qualified psychotherapist. They then learn to safely prepare a new script that will replace or attach different meanings to painful memories that have caused emotional scarring.

After reviewing clinical trials regarding the effects of imagery rescripting, Arnoud Arntz found incredibly promising results.[6] Clients have the opportunity to process emotions that they cannot typically access. They learn to access the care, nurturing, and support they need during an uncomfortable experience, ascribe a healthier attitude towards the situation and recognize that it was an exception, not the norm.

Using imagination to change your life can help you diffuse unhelpful emotions that affected your life. You might avoid certain types of situations and people. Learning how to use imagery proactively can help you lift the emotional shackles of your past and start living life again the way you’ve always wanted.

6. You Develop Clarity and Greater Confidence on When to Say Yes and No

From the continued practice of imagining what you wish to experience, have, and do, identifying what doesn’t support your aspirations becomes much easier. You start seeing how certain opportunities, experiences, and relationships that don’t serve your goals fit what you imagine in your future. You then feel disparity and more resistant to accommodating or accepting opportunities and invitations.

With increased PCD, your neurocircuitry strengthens your familiarity and comfort with what you are wanting to experience, do, and have. Over time, your connections with parts of your past and present can start to weaken. That is because our imagination is helping you make room for the changes you envision.

Your friendships might change and perhaps even become less satisfying. Similarly, you might start finding yourself gravitate more easily toward opportunities and people who are on similar journeys as you.

7. It Improves Sport and Exercise Performance

Sports psychologists around the globe are experts at helping individuals develop imagery mastery to improve not just their physical performance but also their mindset. When imagery is combined with thought reframing and redirection, you have powerful tools for working through emotional and physical pain when you feel like you have reached your limits.

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Research has long shown that imagery rehearsal can improve physical performance almost as much as physical rehearsal. In the event of injury, illness, or judicial decisions that temporarily rule you out of squad selection, imagery practice becomes more important than ever.

You can continue to practice, even though your body may be experiencing physical limitations. You can rehearse set-plays. You can still practice technical skills in your mind’s eye. You can accelerate your body’s healing process.

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to benefit from using imagination to change your life. You can get in a position to deadlift a certain goal weight or picture what you are wearing or what gym you attend in your mind.

You can choose a mantra that holds personal and emotional meaning for you. You can incorporate instructive self-talk and imagine hearing energizing music. You imagine what it feels like to start the lift, feet firm, eyes ahead.

You imagine feeling the strain but still feeling your body telling you that it will do whatever it can to launch. You also get to wallow in the feeling and elation of having achieved your goal!

To start developing imagery skills in the best way possible, start using imagination to change your life or at least what’s within your control. Always remember that there are no limits to your imagination, and it never has to be fixed.

“I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.” — Michelangelo

More on Using Imagination to Change Your Life

Featured photo credit: Eli DeFaria via unsplash.com

Reference

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Malachi Thompson

Leadership & Performance Edge Strategist

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Last Updated on December 2, 2020

11 Simple Ways To Get Rid Of Your Inner Fear

11 Simple Ways To Get Rid Of Your Inner Fear

Saw a little girl touch a big bug and shout, “I conquered my fear! YES!” and calmly walk away. I was inspired.” ― Nathan Fillion

What is fear? – a feeling triggered by threat, danger or pain. Most of the times, we humans tend to over-dramatize a situation and develop inner fear that hints at our insecurities and lack of capability to get by it. Often, you might found yourself stumble across an event where you are more tied down by your inner fear than the actual problem at hand. For some people, inner fears tend to develop certain complexes and personality disorders in the long-run. To avoid this from happening to you or any loved one. Read on these 11 simple things you can do to get over your inner fear.

1. You Are What You Think

To an extent, this statement stands true. You can build confidence by thinking positively about yourself. It makes all the more reason to take control of your imagination instead of allowing it to exponentially magnetize your inner fear. During our moments of deep anxiety, we tend to imagine the worst-case scenarios that may not conform with reality. To overcome your inner fears, you can start thinking the positive outcomes. By thinking on a positive track of mind, it is likely for you develop the strength to face a situation. Don’t let your imagination get the best of you – remain positive and you are likely to stay calm.

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2. Fear of Death Won’t Make Death Go Away

As children, we would often hide our faces behind our hands and consider a dreaded event to pass us by. With the vivid imagination children have, this was a seemingly workable approach. However, as adults, we know that inner fears can only be overcome by confrontation. The possibility of dying is an inner fear that will only hold you back from living. Another practical approach of confronting your fear of death is to examine the brave people around you who are preparing for their death and leaving an example behind for others to follow. An article published by Dr: Murphy elaborates the death of Nelson Mandela and helps in highlighting his courage in his life and even at the time of dying.

3. Expose Yourself to Your Fear

The best way to overcome your fear is to explore yourself and find what makes you afraid the most in phases. For example, if you are afraid of spiders, then start off by looking at a spider without freaking out. The next time, you can touch it and then finally hold it in your hands. Once, you have accomplished all these phases; then it is likely for you to overcome what you have been afraid of all along.

4. Get Fascinated By Your Fear

Sometimes what we fear is also something that can create feelings of exhilaration in our bodies. This is what you want to achieve – become fascinated by your fear so much that you tend to enjoy experiencing it. Think about people in extreme sports. Don’t they get scared of heights, waterfalls and speed? But somehow, they are more thrilled in confronting their fear than being afraid of it. By seeing your fear as a positive source of energy, you are likely to embrace it and eventually overcome it.

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5. It’s Okay to Be Afraid

What is important to remember is that it is okay to be afraid sometimes. Denying the inner fear is a common way of allowing it to integrate itself with your subconscious and cause you anxiety.  An inner fear develops on an account of a situation that is beyond your control. Feeling fearful by something is just a normal human reaction. Instead of shunning or reacting badly towards it, accept it. Acceptance is the first step of  overcoming your fear.

6. Reward Yourself

Overcoming a deep  rooted inner fear implies taking baby steps towards an overall recovery from it. It means that you need to celebrate each victory as it comes along the way. If you don’t give yourself the much needed pat on the back, the chances are that you will indirectly discourage your improvement. It is important to recognize your gradual recovery and reward yourself in order to completely overcome the inner fear.

7. Slow Breathing is a Useful Technique

Being faced by your inner most fear can probably cause your brain to shut down and entire body to react passively. At such times, remember: slow breathing is the short circuit for anxiety.  It helps your body to calm down regardless of what your brain is causing you to think. Try counting quickly up to 7 to clear your mind and take a breath in. Breathe out by quickly, counting up to 11 in your mind. Repeat this until you are able to calm yourself which would probably take a minute or so. This is an effective way of relaxing your mind and body to overcome the situation at hand.

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8. Try Being Analytic

When you go through a sudden panic attack, usually your brain is being over-emotional and subsiding your logic. The best thing to do at this time is to use a different part of your brain and force yourself to think in a logical and analytic manner. To achieve this, try scaling your fear from 1-10 where 10 is the highest terrifying state. When you feel anxious, ask yourself what is the level of your anxiety? By questioning your state of mind, you are tending yourself towards a calmer and better state of mind.

9. Employing the “AWARE” Technique

Whenever you are troubled by your inner fear, gain more control by using AWARE technique which is an acronym for:

  • A:  accept the anxiety and your fear – you can not fight it unless you don’t recognize its presence.
  • W: – watch the anxiety. Then analyze it by using point 7 and 8.
  • A: – try “acting” normally. Although, a difficult thing for many people to do. However, the longer you act normally; the better. You will be able to provide your brain the signals of overall things to be in ideal condition.
  • R:  stands for repeating these steps if required.
  • E:  expect the best. Embracing your inner fear means that you take control of the situation and expect the outcome to be in your favor.

10. You’re Not Alone

Many people consider to be exclusive in their fears. By considering that many others have gone through, or are still going through, the same type of fears, you are universally acknowledging a solution for your fear. There are many discussion groups and meetings for people going through similar kinds of fears. By joining such a group, you can openly discuss your fears and find a holistic approach in tackling your problem whenever it is triggered.

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11. Express Yourself

Many psychologists recommend their patients to keep a journal and document their feelings whenever they become fearful. These journals are often a source of catharsis for people as they help in pointing out the trigger behind their inner fears. By going through the root cause of the fear, you are bettering your chances of finding a cure.  There are also many online discussion forums where people vent out their feelings of anxiety and depression. The primary advantage of expressing yourself is to help you vent out so that you are able to grab hold of the situation.

Final Words

These are some of the simple ways of overcoming your inner fears. By practicing these rules from time-to-time, you are giving yourself the opportunity to hold a brave front against your fears. Remember, you are your best judge and advocate. Instead of going downhill and letting your guards down, you can practice these simple points and drive yourself to a total state of conquering your fears.  We all have an inner fear to overcome, tell us what works for you to subside your fear and get ahead in your life. Feel free to comment below and share your success story with us.

Featured photo credit: Henk Mul via unsplash.com

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