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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 April 27, 2021

How To Accept Responsibility For Your Life (7 No-Nonsense Tips)

How To Accept Responsibility For Your Life (7 No-Nonsense Tips)

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you are human. This means that there is likely a time or two when you have not taken responsibility for something in your life. We’ve all been there. Maybe you broke an item at a place of employment but didn’t fess up to it, or you missed a deadline and blamed the reason why on someone else, or perhaps you decided a responsibility was too great to face.

Accepting responsibility can be challenging because it doesn’t always feel good. It can require time we think we don’t have. Feelings of shame or inadequacy can surface. Rather than face those feelings, it’s much easier to not accept responsibility.

This is all understandable. But it may not be serving us and who we want to be in the long run.

Accepting responsibility has benefits at work, home, and all aspects of life. When we demonstrate to ourselves that we can be responsible, we show our strength of character, our leadership qualities, and even our adulting skills.

Knowing that doesn’t make accepting responsibility any easier, does it?

Using the example of pretending that you live in an apartment with multiple roommates where you all have to share the kitchen, we will look at seven tips on how to accept responsibility for your life.

1. Stop Playing the Victim

You’ve just cooked a big meal involving several pots, pans, and cooking utensils. You reflect on feeling overwhelmed and stressed by life right now and decide that you just don’t have the time or energy to do your dishes right now. The next time you or your roommates want to use the kitchen, there’s a big mess and a lack of options for pans and cutlery to use.

Maybe one of your roommates will do it for you? Superman to the rescue? I hate to break it to you, but Superman doesn’t actually exist.

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Why insist on crushing every childhood fantasy? Because when we wait for someone else to fix our problems, we are playing the victim, and if Superman doesn’t exist (or Spiderman or Wonder Woman, or Black Panther, etc.), then we will be perpetually tied to the proverbial train tracks, waiting for someone else to save us.[1]

What we can do in this situation is acknowledge and validate our feelings. In the above scenario, you’re focusing on feeling overwhelmed. This feeling isn’t “bad.” But it does affect your motivation to accept responsibility, keeping you in a victim mindset. It isn’t just the dishes that you need to face. You also need to take responsibility for your emotions.

Acknowledging and validating emotions help you to understand what you’re feeling and why. You can then redirect the energy you’re wasting on being a victim and redirect it toward more productive things in life. Like doing your own dishes.

There are many different ways we can develop the skill of self-acknowledgment and validation. One of the best is to write about what you’re experiencing. You may be surprised by how you describe the “what” and “why” of your feelings. You may even uncover other times in your life when you felt this way and find that your current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are based on that past. You might even heal an old experience as you deal with the present circumstance!

2. End the Blame Game

“If my roommates were more consistent about doing their dishes, then I would feel like I could do mine.”

It’s so easy to come up with excuses and reasons why we shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than anyone else. We find interesting ways to blame others for why we can’t do something. This becomes another way to avoid taking responsibility, and we can do so out of a perspective of anger.[2]

Anger can be energetically compelling, but it’s not always rooted in reality. It can keep us stuck and prevent us from having the life and relationships we really want. Much like being the victim, it’s important to ask yourself how being and staying angry is serving you. Again, it’s important to acknowledge and validate these thoughts and feelings too.

Perhaps you’re really feeling mad at someone at your workplace who isn’t taking responsibility for their own projects. You end up taking on their work, allowing anger to build up. By the time you get home, you need a place to let that anger out. And so, your anger is directed toward your kitchen and your roommates.

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This may help you feel better for a little while, but it’s not sustainable. There are so many ways of dealing with anger. It would serve you and others around you well to learn how to manage and work with any anger you have in your life so that you can resume your acceptance of responsibility.

3. Forgive Yourself and others

After reading tips number 1 and 2, perhaps you are now adept at practicing acknowledging and validating your feelings. Because of that work, it’s easier to forgive yourself and others.

For instance, without the feelings of victimhood and blame, you have the energy to see things from a perspective of forgiveness and tolerance.

From a place of forgiveness, you see that even though your roommates don’t take care of their dishes right away every time, they do so more often than not. Plus, you can see that all of you have challenging things happening in your lives right now, so why should your challenges make it so that you can slack off? You may even remember times when your roommates have helped you out with cleaning the kitchen even though the mess wasn’t theirs.

As you forgive others, you forgive yourself too and take ownership of your own tasks.

4. Use Responsibility as a Way to Help Others

Shirking our responsibilities can actually affect others’ well-being. We can step into a space of considering how our actions, or lack thereof, might be burdening or harming others.

For example, not doing your dishes and leaving the kitchen dirty means that when another roommate wants to use the kitchen to make a meal, they may have to clean the kitchen first to have access to the pots, pans, and utensils required. They may feel annoyed that you didn’t take responsibility for your mess, which affects your relationship with your roommate. A confrontation may be on the horizon.

However, if you can put yourself in the frame of mind to consider things from your roommate’s position, you might think twice about leaving the dishes. By taking responsibility and doing your part to keep the kitchen clean, you are taking care of the space and your roommates.

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A lot of people find it easier and highly beneficial to do things out of a sense of responsibility for others.[3] Thinking about things from another’s perspective can be a motivating factor and can provide us with feelings of purpose.

5. Look for the Win-Win

When we choose not to take responsibility, we are choosing a zero-sum game, meaning nobody wins. What if you looked for the win-win opportunity of taking responsibility instead?

Maybe there have been times when your roommates have saddled you with a messy kitchen. If you now decide to leave your mess, nobody wins. Whereas, cleaning up after yourself now means that you are modeling how you want the space to be treated by everyone. You are also ensuring that your roommates can trust you to take responsibility for your cleaning tasks, and the next person who wants to use the kitchen will be able to do so.

In this scenario, you will be taking responsibility, cultivating a relationship of trust with your roommates, and making it so that nobody else has to clean up after you. Everyone wins.

6. Make Taking Responsibility Fun

Another vantage point from which we could look is the place of joy. Yes, joy.

It’s easy to paint “cleaning the kitchen” in a negative light when shows are streaming on Netflix and downtime activities calling. But what could happen for you if you made the task of doing the dishes fun?

How can it be fun? This is where you get to be creative.

Some ideas could be playing some of your favorite music as you clean, invite a roommate to chat while you clean, or you could play that show you’re binging on Netflix as you scrub. Have Airpods? Call a friend as you clean!

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Finding a way to make it fun helps you lose track of time and get the job done faster. It could also provide some necessary “play” time. We don’t play enough as adults. Get back to your childhood roots and find ways to incorporate play into your daily routine, and get the dishes done at the same time!

7. Choose Your Own Adventure

When we approach responsibility from our highest self, we can be at choice for how we want to accept it. This requires an awareness of what we intend to accomplish or learn in any life experience.

For instance, when faced with a responsibility, you could consider all the ways of looking at it (from a place of victimhood, blame, forgiveness, service to others, win-win, or fun) and decide which perspective would serve the highest good of all, yourself included.

When we can approach any life situation from the standpoint of having choices, doesn’t that feel better than feeling forced into a decision or action?

Conclusion

Knowing that you can make conscious choices at any time in your life hopefully helps you to feel freer and more energized for any life responsibility you choose to accept. These seven tips on how to accept responsibility will set you up for a good start.

More Tips on How To Be a Responsible Person

Featured photo credit: Marcos Paulo Prado via unsplash.com

Reference

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