It takes more energy to run away from a threat, and less energy to pursue a dream. Often times when we procrastinate in following through on our commitments it’s because by coincidence we have come to dread something specific about following through on one or more of our commitments. Feelings of dread activate our fight or flight response system, which in some people leads to a desire to dread following through on certain commitments. This phenomenon occurs because some of us have come to believe by accident, irrational rules about what should and should not be happening to us. This belief is so powerful that it becomes more energy consuming just thinking through about the ordeals we have to go through in simply following through with a commitment.
A solution to this phenomenon is to create a vision, through the power of imagination. A vision about an achieved goal so compelling that it serves as a magnetic source of attraction, pulling and compelling the person to go through bothersome obstacles in following through with certain commitments which lead to the accomplished goal.
This is the power of imagination, the ability to create a vision that defies all limitations you have grown accustomed to, and then come to believe that vision as a possibility. If you have any doubt about the power of visions, you should look no further than the entertainment media most people consume. From television shows to movies, people are subconsciously introduced to all sorts of possibilities, which they subconsciously come to accept, years before any of these possibilities become a reality.
Imagination is a gift, one that is not just reserved for screen writers and children. It is a gift, because it affords us the ability to create another world for ourselves, a world without boundaries and limitations, particularly a world where we come to be healed from our personal sufferings.
I frequently use the power of imagination hand in hand with cognitive behavioral therapy when helping patients. Take someone who struggles with panic attacks for instance, after helping that person identify the irrational beliefs which fuel his experiences and reactions to his physiological episodes of extreme discomfort, I then ask that person to imagine himself experiencing a physiological episode that produces fear for him and responding differently to that fear. This imagination directive is based on his identified desire for how well he would like to respond to his panic episodes.
If you notice, in the example I gave above, I did not specify for an absence of the panic in the imagination, instead I insisted that the panic remain in the imagined scenario, while the patient focuses on his ideal response. So now it becomes an assignment where the patient visualizes himself practicing emotional resiliency. Rather than wish the problem away, a patient instead begins to develop the concept of becoming emotionally stronger, which opens his mind to cognitive strategies, designed to build upon emotional resiliency.
Ultimately, the key to better health is accepting life on life’s terms. Acceptance is not about playing the role of a door mat, instead it’s about taking a proactive approach in solving ones problems. With an attitude of acceptance, people focus less on what should and what should not be happening and see the problems they encounter as fair game.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC, a professional counseling and life coaching practice.