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It’s often said that imagination is one of our greatest gifts. The one which sets us apart from all the other life forms sharing this beautiful planet with us. However, like all gifts, it’s a two edged sword and can be used for good or ill. To help us or harm us. To speed us on our way, or to hold us back; if not send us in completely the wrong direction. 
Regardless of how we choose to use it – and, yes, it is a choice; more about this in a minute – imagination is the spark that sets EVERYTHING in our lives in motion. And you may want to read that last bit again. Let it sink in. Imagination really is the spark that sets EVERYTHING in motion. 
Used positively, imagination is the key to helping create the life we desire. It provides the creative spark to set things in motion, as well as the fuel to speed us on our way. And, if we hit a bump in the road, it helps ease the way to finding an alternative – and usually much better – route to the destination we desire. Put another way, it’s the magic ingredient that helps us create our own particular heaven on earth. And, remember, what constitutes “heaven on earth” varies hugely from person to person… 
Sadly, imagination can also be used in a much less positive – and helpful – way. To take us in completely the wrong direction, which can quickly become a very slippery slope. Rather than creating the life we desire, it can do exactly the opposite. Create our very own personal hell on earth. And, again, the form this takes is rarely the same for two people… 
If you need a quick reminder about the power of imagination, just spend some time with small children. See how easy, fun and natural it is to use. The possibilities that suddenly open up, the places it can take you. And, most important, how everything is possible – even if we have no idea about the practicalities involved. It’s creativity at its most powerful and vibrant. 
However, all too soon, imagination is relegated to a distant part of our minds. Often by well meaning people around us, urging us to “grow up”. That it’s childish to play and imagine. Sadly, this is fostered by an education system which is increasingly focussed on developing left brain, logical and linear abilities; rather than right sided, creative ones. 
And with it comes ever increasing pressure to meet standard criteria and tests which, despite the best of intentions, is often the trigger for sending our imaginations in completely the wrong direction. Goodbye imaginary friends, places and experiences. Hello worry, fears, anxiety and stress. It’s little wonder that increasing numbers of children – let alone adults – are seeking medical help for worry, anxiety and stress. And, once on medication, finding it difficult – if not impossible – to get off it… 
Having talked to many people about these issues over the years, it’s interesting that no one has been able to say exactly what was fuelling the worry, fear, anxiety or stress. The true underlying cause. 
Quite simply, they’re ALL caused by using our imagination in the wrong way. Allowing it to use us, rather than the other way round. To hurt rather than help us. And, as before, you may want to read those last couple of sentences again and let them really sink in… 
Now we bet the Little Monster in your head probably has plenty to say about this simple observation. But just stop for a moment and think it through. And, yes, we know you probably don’t want to but it will help, IF you do it. 
Why? For the simple reason it takes your brain off auto pilot, with the Little Monster firmly in charge of the controls. It stops the compulsive thinking, which takes your imagination in completely the wrong direction, with your thoughts going round and round in every decreasing circles. Just think of a hamster in a wheel going round and round, getting nowhere, and you’ll get the picture. 
Then, once you’ve taken back control of your thoughts, it’s easy to take a more rational look at whatever it is that’s pushing your buttons. And, again, we know that you don’t want to but it’s essential you do. 
Why? Well, again, there’s a very simple reason. Your imagination has ONLY gone into overdrive because of a lack of OBJECTIVE data. And this gives the Little Monster in your head free rein to take your imagination in completely the wrong direction to fill in the gaps. Which makes the antidote easy. Research and objective data to put things in perspective. What it really means for you. Not for anyone else, for you. 
So, all you’ve got to do is take a deep breath and see what’s actually there. Now while this sounds like your worst nightmare come true – who on earth wants to look at their worries or fears head on for goodness sake? – it’s actually much easier than you could expect. 
To find out how this could possibly be the case, you only need to go back to your childhood and the imaginary monster under your bed – or in the cupboard. Do you remember what it was like? Imagining the worst. Being certain there was something there, they were going to come and get you the moment your shut your eyes. Then one day – or night (!) – you screwed up all your courage to take a look. And the surge of relief in finding there was nothing there. 
Well, it’s exactly the same as an adult. Like the monster under the bed, worries and fears grow in the dark. However much we try to turn a blind eye to them, they still compulsively lurk in the background. Turning the light on and looking at them easily defuses them in a second, IF you’re brave enough to do so. It really is that simple. 
With smaller – or less longstanding – worries and fears this is often enough to send them on their way for good. Others may make a reappearance but, if you simply repeat this process, you’ll find they quickly diminish and then go for good. All that’s needed is to notice when they make an appearance and then turn on the light of conscious thought. Which just leaves the best bit – and the one for which the imagination was designed – to imagine what you really would like to happen. Not only will it feel so much better but, more importantly, be channelling all your creative powers in the right direction. Towards creating your very own heaven on earth. 
And, one final thought in these rather strange times. One very easy – and all too common – mistake is letting your fears and worries drive your decisions. Doing whatever it is because you’re worried or frightened by what may happen if you don’t. Or finding yourself swept along by peer pressure, if not a little emotional blackmail. 
Not only are all of these letting your imagination take you in completely the wrong direction; but you’re directing a huge amount of negative energy at something you really don’t want to do. Now does that still seem like such a good idea – let alone ensure a good result? Unfortunately, not. 
So now it’s over to you. 
Do you use your imagination or do you let it use you? 
As always, the choice is yours. 
Photograph by unknown author 
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