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Every part of you likes to learn and grow – and do things, because that is part of evolution. So why not give your imagination a job? Hire it, with the pay being, “You are going to have so much fun!” then direct it to work for you.
Try this task for your imagination. Imagine it’s one week from today.
On that day, one week from now, what should you have accomplished or created?
Let your imagination freely brainstorm on a piece of paper until it comes up with three projects that you want to have completed by the end of the day, one week from now. These projects can be mundane or awe inspiring, but remember you are learning how your imagination can work for you, so keep it simple at first. Once you have a clear idea of what you want, you and your imagination can draw a picture of it. This should be a sketch, nothing fancy, but be sure it is an image that clearly conveys to you what the goal for each of those three projects is. Take a moment to direct your imagination to show you what you will feel like having completed that project and what the finished product will look like. Now activate yourself, go forward assuming that what you have imagined and drawn is on its way. Assume a positive outcome and let the magic of the universe close the gap.
Here’s one of my favorite examples of how this process works. One of my blog readers began her experiment by simply writing the words “Surprise me” along with a funny little drawing of herself with a surprised expression. In the days and weeks that followed, she began receiving offers to work on projects that were, well, surprising and beyond what she had ever imagined. She wrote to me that,
Derailing and Rerouting Fear
Part of your imagination’s processing is linked to your fear response and negative bias. Whatever fears you have, they generate images that remind you of the possibility of failure, either based on your own past experiences or borrowed from stories you may have seen or heard from others. The synapses in your brain play scenes over and over again, drawing from a memory that has been hard wired into your brain’s neural network.
Neurologist Robert Barton found that our brains reward us with the dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is activated when something happens unexpectedly, whenever we recognize and complete patterns. Stories are one example of those patterns. The brain recognizes the familiar structure of a story, with a beginning, middle and end, and it rewards us for clearing up the ambiguity. That works just as well when we imagine a negative ending. Unfortunately we don’t need to be accurate just certain for that dopamine hit to happen – boo!
It’s important to note that you have to interrupt your negative bias before it takes you down the slippery slope. Brene Brown suggests in her book Rising Strong that just stopping to be present can shift the emotion, then you can further uncouple yourself from the fearful or negative story simply by getting curious about it.
Where did the story come from, where do you feel it in your body?
Your imagination is under your control. You can direct it to focus, like a spotlight, on what you want to highlight or explore. The more light you shine, the clearer the image becomes. Because your imagination, left to its own devices, has a tendency to drift around, randomly focusing on this or that, it needs direction. When you use it as a tool to explore what you want to know more about, it will give you better options for which step to take on the path towards the things you desire and subsequently rewire your brain to leave the old you behind.
When people draw their future, they create small images of the most amazing things that they want to see happen. An essential part of the process is to “double click” on that right side of the Draw Your Future map, on one of the things you want to experience and use your imagination to feel it fully. Heightened feelings and images are the glue that you use to solidify that memory into your hippocampus and program your neurons in a new way. Remember the brain doesn’t know the difference between what you did and what you imagined, so it is already living this new you, now.
When you start using these techniques to access Creative Genius You to make changes both big and small, it’s not uncommon to feel that it must not be working because things don’t seem to be changing very quickly. While I am firmly convinced that anyone who works with their imagination to access their creativity and generate solutions to their problems can expect changes, the pace at which they occur can feel frustrating at times.
Why do some of the things we desire seem to happen more quickly than others?
There are many reasons, but often it is as simple as you not creating enough focus and momentum by celebrating the small shifts you ARE making. And remember the RAS – Reticular Activating System? You want to use those images to help you stay focused on what you do want.
Sometimes, getting or not getting what you drew in your picture, is a simple matter of timing, something in your internalized beliefs, or perhaps you are focused too much or too little on the outcome. We each have unique obstacles to navigate for every goal we want to achieve. I believe that often what happens is that we second-guess ourselves and then fail to act on opportunities that are presenting themselves around us.
I have learned something from the feedback I’ve gotten from people who watched Draw Your Future, my TEDx video. Those who have had the most success using both methods - imagining the changes they wanted to create and using images to create a picture of their journey towards their goals – also had one other thing in common: they kept on going, activating the Drive part of the Creative Genius equation, sometimes going back to activate and reactivate their imaginative process many times until they saw the obstacles and opportunities before them in a new way. In time, the habit of allowing negative bias to limit the ability to recognize and embrace a different pattern gave way, making room for the free flow of solutions always available to us.
This week, practice training your imagination and see what you learn about your ability to use it to help you brainstorm and create. Post a few of your key learnings in the FB group!
Big love to you,