“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles but most of them never happened..”- Mark Twain.
Imagination is a great and terrible thing. It is great when we use it in its positive mode and it is terrible when we use it in its negative mode. In its positive mode (its natural state)- it is the source of our creative power. We can only create to the extent that we can imagine (and believe). All great advancements in science and improvements in living standards have come from someone, somewhere imagining and believing that things could be better.
Too often though, our imagination is a terrible thing- because we misuse it to imagine up all sorts of worrisome things that could happen. We take this powerful engine of creation we’ve been endowed with and instead of using it to create better conditions, we use it to create worse ones. How? By worrying.
Worry is caused by fear. Fear is not a bad thing in and of itself. It is a built-in mechanism of the protective personality to help preserve our physical life. But the problem is we let fear outside of it’s proper boundaries (which is to protect our physical life) and let it roam free- causing us to be fearful of all sorts of non life-threatening things- like speaking in public, singing in public, expressing ourselves to others, apologizing to others or asking others for help.
We imagine up all sorts of reasons why we shouldn’t take non life threatening risks. None of them will kill us, but we imagine how people might disapprove, might laugh, might say “No” and we stop ourselves from doing all sorts of things that could help us grow. We also manage to worry about all sorts of things happening that are completely out of our control. We worry about the economy going down, we worry about losing a job, about losing a loved one, about losing a sale, about losing a lifestyle we’ve become comfortable with. Do you see the pattern? It’s always about an imagined loss that hasn’t happened and in most cases- like Mark Twain says, will never happen.
Instead of keeping our attention in the present, we rob the present of it’s joys by letting our imagination run in negative worry mode. So when we feel the stress of being worried about something- let it remind us that we’ve allowed our imagination to flip over into negative mode and we need to flip the switch in our minds back to positive mode and use all that creative power to create mental images of positive results. Your imagination is always working, you might as well keep it working for you, not against you.
Questions to Ponder
What percentage of time is my imagination running in negative mode vs. positive mode?
How can I keep it running in positive mode more often?