What comes to mind for you when you think about the term 'imagination'? Does it conjure up notions of a world of possibility and creativity? Or instead, is 'imagination' associated with pretending and make believe and substandard to what is real?
As a hypnotherapist, my experience of referring to the imagination with clients is that this is a term which gets a bad rap. I suspect that this may have something to do with phrases such as ‘it’s just your imagination’ or ‘you’re only imagining it’. It seems that the imagination continually gets downgraded to a second class citizen in the way we use language.
When we are children we are often dismissed for our imaginative creations- oh it’s just an imaginary friend or ‘he only imagined that happened’. We are told to 'stop imagining things' and to 'grow up'. We become conditioned to move away from the world of imagination so that we can be taken seriously and the sense that the imagination is a childish repository for the non-real lingers into adulthood. Sometimes when I mention the way hypnosis uses the imagination, I can see clients’ flinch- what, only the imagination!
Yet this misses the gold that is contained in the imagination. The gold which our language often covers up.
Can You Just Imagine..?
The thing is, the way we use our imagination is absolutely pivotal to the experience of hypnosis. The difference between an enjoyable and rewarding hypnosis session for one client and a disappointing session for another client can hinge on how well and how prepared they are to indulge their imagination. Fully stepping into the imagination also requires suspending belief for a time, allowing the mind to become creative and playful.
"Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Albert Einstein.
I would like to suggest that there is value in rethinking the way we think about the imagination. That rather than, 'oh just the imagination', we can begin to see the potential that is held in engaging our minds in this way. The value in detaching from what we firmly hold to be tangibly true and, for a time, creating the world we would like to step into.
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