Imagination is a beautiful, creative power but it has a dark side called worry.
With limitless imagination a toddler turns a kettle and a spoon into a drum; a towel becomes a cape as the “superhero” leaps from the couch; an empty box of changes from a car to a house, to a castle, or even a turtle’s shell in a matter of minutes. Youthful imagination is endless and leads to hours upon hours of creative playtime.
But imagination can also have a dark side when suddenly shadows become fearful creatures. When youthful imagination is in full swing,, the child is convinced that a monster is under their bed. Many parents remember shining flashlights under beds to prove it is safe to go to sleep. Enterprising individuals even found a way to profit from children’s imagined fears and sell “Monster Spray” on EBay as a way to get rid of those pesky imagined intruders.
Imagination is a way for children to expand their world and entertain themselves, but it is something that most people tend to outgrow with age. Or do they?
Imagination in adults is rarely of monsters under their beds, or shadows coming to life. It is quite often, a part of the “What If” game unconsciously played as they make up possible horrible outcomes to whatever scenario is considered.
- What if I give the wrong answer at the job interview and screw up my chances of getting my dream job?
- What if my spouse leaves me?
- What if my child needs me while I am away on a business trip?
- Yes, this is a great opportunity for me to talk about how much I love my exercise program, but what if I freeze in front of the group and can’t get a word out?
Imagination is alive and well in the adult world as adverse outcomes are replayed and counted. Some people seem to get a sense of comfort from believing they have considered all the possible negative results of a scenario. But how often do you hear someone confess that they are scaring themselves with their imagination? Never.
People don’t admit that they are imagining scary things that for the most part don’t come true because they don’t realize that is what they are doing. By changing the name of imagination, and it becomes socially accepted for adults. Instead of “I’m imagining,” change the terminology to “I’m worrying,” and it is totally normal.
Both imagination and worry are ways that individuals use thought to frighten themselves. Neither one is useful.
As a child gets older, the fear of monsters under the bed seems silly, and with age and reality, the child is no longer afraid. As adults begin to see the uselessness of worry, and that it is something that they are making up, it also begins to become less frightening.
Imagination and worry are both self-created via thought. The thinker has a choice of the topic they will allow their thoughts to linger on. Perhaps EBay should also sell “Worry Spray,” or perhaps recognizing that worry is pure imagination will help put the monster to sleep.
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