Our imaginations change as we move through our lives… as a child, we were able to experience positive imaginations, fantasising about who we were, what we could do… the possibilities appeared endless. We know we also had less helpful, though ‘normal’ thoughts leaving us frightened!
We were able to experience this primarily because we were ‘unconditioned’ by life, and by expectations; remove responsibility, accountability, and you have free reign to live the life you believe in!
Fast forward to adulthood and we have ‘learned’ behaviours that are often embedded in our psyche. We ‘re-act,’ based on experiences… frequently in error! What may have been appropriate, at the original time, may no longer be the case – yet still, we wonder why… or worse still… others wonder why, you just ‘jumped down their throat’!
Back to the Imagination
In cases that breed anxiety, the imagination plays a pivotal role in the subsequent emotions experienced. Palpitations, dizziness, sweating, shallow breaths, are just some of that which waits when the imagination runs amok. The fearful thought (imagination) is so often considerably worse than the reality however.
The next time you experience an anxious thought, perhaps because you are running late is one good example, try to be aware of the thoughts you are having. I am late, I’m going to look bad, I’ll be in trouble, etc. After your appointment, meeting, or whatever it is, try reflecting on the outcome. If you were late, or if you were on time and someone else was late. Did anyone ‘die’? Did you lose your job?
I am a fan, out of courtesy, of being on time. However, it can be useful to consider the ‘automatic’ negative thoughts and imaginations – and comparing those with the reality! Test your thoughts and try to remind yourself earlier in an anxious period of what the likely outcome ‘really’ is.
The truth is – the imagination is much scarier than the reality!
When we feel jealous, and therefore anxious, we are often behaving because of our own insecurities, failing to realise at times, what we are afraid of in others, we are afraid of in ourselves! If we become anxious and resentful of someone else, and how we ‘believe’ their position in society is, or how their possessions are making their lives ‘perfect’, we are imagining something that is rarely true! Money and possessions seldom bring an inner peace and total satisfaction; they may provide alternate choices, but that is another thing entirely.
When we become acutely angry, with sudden outbursts, these may be because of the fear of an outcome, a perception imagined. Perhaps, we imagine, because we subconsciously believe that the car driver who has just cut you up ‘should’ know who you are, what you do, how you are, that you have a family and you do a great job serving others, so how dare they cut you up, they wouldn’t do that to someone they knew!
We often behave ‘unconsciously’, on automatic and it is appropriate for us to feel some anxiety with the new experience. Nevertheless, with a little more consideration, challenging a thought or imagination, we can ask ourselves whether the anxiety at that time is healthy and appropriate.
And sometimes… it is a positive thought that makes us feel good; and that is also healthy!
Challenged by occasional or frequent anxieties and fearfulness? Do seek a little guidance from an impartial ear. I have two and am happy to listen. Drop me a line.
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).