Your imagination– your capacity for visualization and fantasy– is your secret weapon.
I want you fantasizing all the time— but I don’t want you living in a fantasy world.
I don’t want you checked out of reality.
I want here very grounded in the here and now, insofar as that’s the only way to safely, productively deal with the challenges life throws our way.
But I do want you using your imagination every day— every hour of every day.
I do want you imagining what your mentors and supporters might tell you in any given situation.
I want you “hearing” their voices. I want you “feeling” their presence.
One of the biggest battles many of us face every day is feeling like we’re utterly alone.
Many of us grew up feeling like nobody understood us— or wanted to.
Many of us grew up feeling like nobody supported us— or wanted to.
Maybe we weren’t worthy of understanding or support, we figured.
After all, if we were likable or worthy, we wouldn’t even have to ASK for that understanding or support, right? It would just appear, like it does in Disney movies.
The fairy godmothers would just show up, because we were special.
But the fact that no such fairy godmothers did show up for us messed with our heads…and many of us became acutely aware of how lonely the world actually was.
For me, what helped with that loneliness was fantasy— and the fantasies that were most often helpful were those fantasies in which I WAS liked, in which I WAS supported, in which I WAS worthy of understanding.
I’d literally fantasize about having friends— and not the complicated friendships that real life offered, either, where you had to be cool and funny enough to be worth someone’s time.
There was always this performative aspect to friendship that I could never quite wrap my head around— the feeling that, if I wasn’t entertaining enough, that people would go find friends funnier than me.
But in my fantasy world, those friends and supporters weren’t judgmental. They weren’t expecting entertainment.
They were just there for me.
They liked me just as I was— even as they wanted me to get better.
Fast forward to adulthood, when we’re told that we should live in reality— that imagination is for kids.
Is imagination really “just for kids?”
Because I can tell you: I work with adults every single day whose imaginations are as vivid and active as any school kid’s…and whose imaginations are either working for them or against them (sometimes both).
As kids, we use our imagination to take the sharp edges off of life.
As adults, we’re instructed that it’s uncool to use our imagination in vivid, active ways— that being “realistic” means to deprive ourselves of a tool that is literally designed to help us make it through the day.
How are you supposed to utilize stuff your therapist tells you if you’re unwilling to remember and imagine them telling it to you?
How are you supposed to utilize the safety of your therapist’s office or a twelve step meeting, if you’re not allowed to remember and fantasize what it’s like being in that space?
How are you supposed to utilize powerful words spoken by characters in novels or movies, unless those characters and stories vividly live and thrive in your imagination?
Again: using your imagination as an adult isn’t about checking out of reality, or confusing your fantasy with the reality of the world.
It’s about using our capacity to visualize, to “see” and “hear” people who aren’t actually here or may not actually exist, to help you feel more centered, more purposeful, more resourceful…more able to deal with life on life’s terms.
You can even hear my voice in your head. If you read my stuff, you know very well the kinds of things I say.
Carry me with you in your imagination.
You don’t have to go it alone.
Subscribe to the Doc’s free email newsletter!
2 thoughts on “Your Secret Weapon.”
So validating to see this in print! Thank you…I find that this kind of approach really does help. I’ve had imaginary mentors since my teens, tho, I don’t think I’ve ever actually voiced that. Lol. It’s my family substitute strategy. I’m amazed how necessary that strategy still is in my middle age. Your voice is a trusted, supportive brother in my world. Some days when I read your posts it’s astonishing to me that it’s exactly what I need to hear. Imaginary world, or harmonic? Hmmmm…. =:-D
Happy New Year!
Visualisation and imagination are 2 great skills to have at your disposal. Both cost nothing and by “letting go” can reap rewards. Thanks Doc.