What do paper clips, poetry, pickled okra and anxiety have in common?
They all used imagination to solve a problem.
Imagination allows us to analyze, solve problems, and create. Imagination is a powerhouse that can improve or destroy material and internal worlds.
One function of imagination is to roll a problem over again and again in an attempt to solve it. We imagine the problem, the desired outcomes, the possible ways to achieve them. We daydream. And then, as if by magic, we come up with a solution. When it isn't solved, though, imagination can become a ruminative process that unproductively occupies our thoughts day and night. Imagination becomes worry.
Runaway imagination is a major source of stress. It's not what is actually happening that creates the shallow breathing, rapid heart rate and feeling tongue-tied, but what you think might happen that creates symptoms of dread or terror.
The same ability to imagine the worst and create anxiety and panic can also calm the brain. Skillful imagination is a powerful tool for reducing stress. Imagination brings the emotional/intuitive aspect of our brain to the problem. In a calm, meditative state, imagination can create pleasing smells, feelings, sights, sounds.
Those imagined sensations send messages from the brain's limbic system that all is clear and safe. From a calmer state we are better able to attend to the problem in a productive way.
Instead of letting imagination scare you, let me show you how you can learn to use it to your advantage.
I heard this recently from someone who had been trying to find help for a distressing problem. But I have heard worse.
...tried to get me to buy into his 12 week program before he even knew why I was there.
...talked non-stop about himself.
...told me I needed to turn to Jesus.
...fell asleep while I was talking.
There are some great therapists, but finding them can seem like buying the proverbial pig in a poke.
Marilyn Miller, MS, LPC ~ Psychotherapist
...Delighting every day in helping people find peace in their lives, relieving anxiety, depression, and promoting self-care.