NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Using Your Imagination as a Powerful Tool for Change

Imagination as a Powerful Tool for Change
Your imagination can be a powerful tool that can be used creatively for making positive changes in your life, solving problems, writing prose, poetry or music, and countless other endeavors. If you allow your mind the freedom to be creative, your imagination can come up with limitless possibilities.

Your Imagination is a Powerful Tool for Change

What Does the Word "Imagination" Mean to You?
Unfortunately, the word "imagination" has a negative meaning for many people.  Often, this begins in early childhood.  Many adults, especially parents and teachers, without realizing it, discourage children from using their imagination.  They tell children, "Stop daydreaming" and "It was only you're imagination."  After a while, these children come to think of imagination as something "bad" or "wrong" rather than seeing it as a creative tool.

How Do You Use Your Imagination?
We use our imagination all the time, often without being aware of it.

The real question is how you use your imagination: Do you use it as a creative tool that can help you to grow and develop or do you use it in a negative way that causes you worry and emotional pain?

Observing yourself and seeing how you use your imagination in your life can help you to understand if you tend to use it in an optimistic or a pessimistic manner.

How would your imagination react to the following scenarios:

Your boss tells you that she wants to see you in her office now. As you're walking to her office, are you imagining yourself getting fired? If so, how would you feel if you found out that you were getting a promotion and a raise?

The new person you've been dating leaves a message on your voicemail that he'd like to talk to you right away. Do you imagine that he's calling to break up with you? If so, how would you feel if, when you called back, he told you that his friend, who had to work late, gave him free orchestra seats to see a play tonight that you've been wanting to see and he's inviting you to go with him?

You wake up on a Monday morning and as you lay in bed, you begin to anticipate your day.  Where do your thoughts go?  Do you imagine all the bad things that could happen this day?  Does your imagination automatically come up with the different things that could go wrong?  Or do you see it as a new day with possibilities of new opportunities?  And if you imagined a bad day and it actually turns out to be a very good day, how does this affect you?  Does this cause you to question how you think or do you minimize this day (and all your good days) as exceptions.

Changing How You Use Your Imagination
If you think about situations that have actually occurred in your life where you imagined negative outcomes but were pleasantly surprised by positive outcomes, you can begin to become aware of your particular pattern of using your imagination.

Whenever a particular situation comes up, notice where you mind goes. Write it down. After a while, if you notice a pattern that you don't like, you might decide you want to change your way of thinking. If so, as a first step, you can begin to challenge yourself about your negative imagination and begin to consider positive outcomes instead.

For some people who have had emotional trauma, using negative imagination becomes a habitual way of thinking because they feel it helps to prepare them for the worst case scenario each time. This is a common reaction to trauma.

The problem is that focusing on the worst case scenario all of the time doesn't really help and, in many cases, it gets in the way because these people are always anticipating emotional pain and going over painful scenarios in their lives. So, even when something good happens, it's hard for them to enjoy life because they're immersed in their negative imagination. For people with a history of lot of painful experiences, it can be very difficult to change this pattern on their own without help from a licensed mental health professional who works with trauma.

From Imagination to Action
Of course, even if you use your imagination in the most positive and creative ways, you still need to take action.  Here's where a lot of people get stuck.  They might have wonderful daydreams about how they'll change their lives, but they don't take the necessary steps to make it happen.  Emotional obstacles  get in the way.

Getting Help - Clinical Hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing
If you would like to use your imagination as a creative tool to make changes in your life, you could benefit from seeing a licensed psychotherapist who is trained in clinical hypnosis (also known as hypnotherapy) and Somatic Experiencing.  Clinical hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing are a powerful combination that allow you to access your internal world to make changes.

To find out more about clinical hypnosis, visit:  American Society for Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH).

To find out more about Somatic Experiencing, visit:  Somatic Experiencing Training Institute

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.  I have helped many clients to overcome habitual negative thinking and patterns of negative imagination so they can lead more fulfilling lives.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, please call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Photo Credit:  photo credit: jaci XIII via photopin cc