Kids are particularly good at using their imagination. It’s that way during play time when they conjure up any number of things that enhance their pretend world. That’s also the case when they’re afraid, imagining the monster in the closet or under the bed is about to pounce and eat them.
For adults, imagination is also a good way to make things that are conceptual and opaque a little more concrete. I’ve found that coming up with images in my head helps me to face difficulty, obstacles, my own monsters in the closet. Once I overcome the desire to be passive, to avoid, to procrastinate, I can look at the situation or problem square away and move forward.
I’ve already started to try to shape my four year old’s imagination for good.
The idea is that she can learn to control her thoughts and steer them in the right direction. For now we’ve been focusing on the idea of a “thought box”, a little imaginary box that I tell her is in her head. I tell her she has the power to push Bad Thoughts out (especially when she’s trying to go to sleep at night).
We practice telling the Bad Thoughts, “No Thank You. You can leave now. Please go.” I tell her to keep that up as often as needed, as she tries to go to sleep at night.
When my world gets crazy with turbulence and things that are out of my control, I also use my imagination to deal with the Bad Thoughts. In my case though, it’s most often not pushing those thoughts out of my Thought Box, but rather facing The Dragon of Despair, Procrastination and Inaction. Facing the challenge and taking positive actions.
Rather than allowing The Dragon to paralyze me, I look him squarely in the eye and say, “Whatever you have for me, I will persevere over you, you will not destroy me.”
I say “No Fear”, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have fear. It means I try really hard not to let it control me or stop me. I strive to overcome that anxiety, that indecision, that fear of negative outcome, and do the best I can.
It’s a process really. First we learn to control the bad thoughts in our Thought Box. As we get older, we (hopefully) learn to overcome our fear of all the things the Outside World throws at us. We face the dragon, and we move forward anyway.