You Are What You Imagine

There is no way to the imagination; the imagination is the way.

We do not so much need to develop our imagination, as to understand that our imagination already directs our life and is one of the most powerful resources given to us as humans. It is, in fact one of the defining characteristics of being human, and a basic building block of culture.

What we need to do is become aware of what we are imagining, on behalf of which part of us. and to work with our imagination to imagine a better life for ourselves and others.

Who’s in charge of my imagination?

The problem we face with our imagination is that we need to decide about the governing of our imaginative life.  Who is in charge?

Significant aspects of the imagination are governed by a rather young child who is facing a world that doesn’t always fit with how they think a world should be. This child has the right idea, using the imagination to make sense of the world, but hopefully we’ve gained a lot of knowledge and experience since we were children, and we want that included in the governing body.

This child bit is the one that creates fairy tales about how life should be, that responds with deep hurt, rage, or extreme disappointment when things don’t go our way, and that has a tantrum rather than a mature conversation with the ones we love.  It is also the bit that plays in the world of the imagination, creates wonderful castles in the sky, and generally gives us some of our greatest moments of pure fun.

Other aspects of our imagination are governed by an adult who is stuck in a needs oriented view of the world:  If only  this or that or the other need were met, then I would be okay.  This is the bit of our imagination that is being harnessed by many of the purveyors of visualisation and the law of attraction and various other approaches to using the imagination as a road to fame, fortune, and fabulous family holidays.

That’s the bit of us that wants what we want, and believes that if we could have it we would flourish. This approach has been incredibly useful to show people the power of the imagination, but it doesn’t open up the question of who is in charge of the imagination, and hence you can’t be sure that it not a dictatorship of the lowest common  denominator.

Is this what I really want or what my culture tells me I should want?  Hard to know.

Then there are all the various subpersonalities we have, that variety of inner roles that we switch between depending on inner and outer events.  These range from imperious king/queen to victim/persecutor/rescuer to hero/heroine to wise fool, each with its own kind of imagination.  When any of them is in charge, you get what they are, not what you are as a whole.

The Magical Imagination

Beyond the “I want” and “why can’t I have” led imagination, there is the magical imagination, the creative imagination, the one that inventors and artists and writers rely on to produce reams of gold from somewhere else.

This is a joyful one, and it can be used not only to create a work of art, but also to create that work of art that is you.

The Holistic Imagination

And there’s also the point of view of what I would call the holistic imagination, that in us which goes beyond our personal self, and which can coordinate all the perspectives in a way that is guided by our highest and best integrity.

I think of this as being under the guidance of the soul.

Your Imagination is What You Are, Not What You Have

If you haven’t checked out the images that rule your life recently, they are probably way past their sell by date, and as the world moves on and demands new and different things from you, you will certainly be left behind.

Moreover, the title of this piece is “You Are What You Imagine”, not “You can have whatever you imagine.”  Your imagination is what you are, and how you approach the world.  Don’t you want your imagination to represent the biggest and the best part of you, rather than be a mouthpiece for the most limited parts of you?

Don’t you want to let your imagination speak not just for you, but for all of us, as great works of art always do?

I do. Do you? If there’s a we, the world will become a bigger place for all of us.

Try this

Try this just for the fun of it:

Think of the day ahead, and what you want from the day.  Write it down.

Now: Breathe three times, slowly and peacefully.  Imagine yourself at the end of the day feeling content and peaceful.  Where are you? What are you feeling? What’s the main thing that makes you feel this good? How did you get here? Write this down.

Now compare the two.  How are they different?  Which is more true?  Which will take you to where you really want to be?