I’d like to introduce your secret weapon, the one that can turn your worst enemy into your best friend.
When you are facing difficult times of any kind, or just feeling stuck and knowing it is time for a change, you need all the good friends you can get – and, if possible, no worst enemies.
You want people around who will do all the things friends or advisers do at their best: Love you, show compassion if you’re in trouble but also remind you just how strong and wonderful you are, gently help you to stop denying painful truths and to start being more honest with yourself, point out your options, remind you of what you love and what you are good at, encourage you to keep going, and just help in any way they can without trying to take over. You want people who will invite you to expand, to be the most you can be.
You certainly don’t want people who criticize you, blame you, tell you it’s all your fault, make you feel hopeless and powerless, say that you might as well give up now. People like this are really pushing you to contract, make yourself smaller and weaker and more powerless.
But which worst enemy can also be your best friend?
Your own imagination, of course.
Your inner imagery has an amazing power, and it can work to support and guide you or to attack and hold you back; in fact, to do all those things that good friends do, but also the things worst enemies do.
So whether you’ve got friends or enemies around you in your life – or even when you feel utterly alone – you’ve always got your own imagination. Let’s make sure it is your best friend.
That is what Imagework is all about.
The power of your imagination
Your deepest attitudes are held in the form of images or metaphors and your view of the future will similarly begin as a picture or story or image that you may never question and may not even be aware of. These images, which often originate in very early childhood, can guide your mind, your body, your emotions, and your most basic attitudes to life. Yet, you may never know this is happening.
When does your imagination become your worst enemy? Whenever it attacks you, worries you, frightens you, humiliates you, blames you, criticizes you, or threatens you with some dire end you might come to – just like a bullying worst enemy might do.
For example, have you ever laid awake at night, terrified by what will happen to you if you get too old, too ill, too damaged by Alzheimer’s, too poor, too lonely, too grief-stricken by the loss of a loved one, or all of the above? Or do you have some other haunting fear?
If you look closely you’ll discover that your imagined picture of yourself should this or that happen is of you looking collapsed, small, young, helpless or hopeless. It is your image of yourself that is terrifying you more than the actual event. This is your imagination attacking you and getting you to contract, to stay safe, to go back into your cave.
Do you ever feel horribly humiliated as you remember a time in the past? Again, there’s a memory picture of some kind in there, even if you can’t see it right now, and it’s so powerful that you are experiencing all those feelings all over again.
On the positive side, do you ever feel confident about the future? Do you have a picture or a sense of yourself feeling great, smiling happily and standing tall? This again is your imagination, being your friend, holding your hand, so that you feel safe even when things look risky from the outside.
Try this: Let yourself have one of those fear or humiliation pictures, just for a moment, and see what happens to your body, your breathing, your heartbeat. Now see yourself happy, whether in the past or the present or the future. Step into that picture of you, and breathe into being this happy you. Now how does your body respond? What happens to your posture? To your breathing? To your mood? Are you smiling? Do you feel happier or lighter? Can you see how powerful these imagined memories can be?
Neuroscientists have discovered that when you see or do something in your imagination, it activates many of the same parts of the brain as when you are literally seeing something or doing something.
Your highest purpose
Your imagery is real and has real effects. It makes sense that everything you want to learn or do or achieve works better when you enlist the help of your imagination. Your imagination can help you solve most difficulties, for this is where the problems so often begin. In other words, your imagination is so central to your life that it’s worth putting in a little effort to get it on your side.
Wouldn’t it help to know a fast and easy way to gain access to your imagination, so that you can hear the whisperings of your heart and soul before they become shouts and get you into trouble? And to know that inner guidance is available from deep inside you to draw a map of the future that is in line with your highest purpose and your greatest joy?
And wouldn’t it be comforting to have your images holding your hand every step of the way so that you never feel out of touch with your own inspiration and will?
You can and you will.
From You Are What You Imagine © 2014 by Dr Dina Glouberman, published by Watkins Publishing