It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in Leeds and I am walking through Roundhay Park with my good friend Lisa, and her son Jac and my twins, Rebecca and Jacob. The children are 11 years old. To our left, the grounds of the park stretch out for as far as the eye can see and to our right there is a wooded area cordoned off to us by thick hedging.
As we are strolling Rebecca points and shouts “Whoaa! Look at THAT!!!” and almost simultaneously the boys shriek with excitement and all three dart off into the direction that Rebecca was pointing…towards a gap in the hedging leading into the woods.
Lisa calls out “What is….? Oh! I see…” and sounding somewhat underwhelmed, she said “ … It’s a hole in the hedge.”
At this one of the boys turns around and full of animation retorts “That’s NOT a ‘hole in the hedge’! It’s a SECRET PASSAGE INTO AN UNKNOWN WORLD!!!”
Wow! I was struck by the mutual understanding that the children shared with regard to what this ‘hole in the hedge’ meant for them. Without hesitation, all three children saw with their creative minds the myriad of possibilities that this presented. They became instantly transformed into the superhero characters of their imaginations and everything around them had extraordinary meaning and potential.
Remember, as a child playing “let’s pretend”? Who did you become? Perhaps you tied your mum’s table cloth around your neck and ran around with super hero powers – the caped crusader or Wonder Woman. Maybe you were spiderman and that woolly mitt was your web shooter. It didn’t take many minutes into the game before you became so absorbed in your imaginative playing that the tablecloth really became a cape, and you really could shoot webs. In that moment you conjured up the thoughts and emotions of your character, you were totally focused and your energy flowed.
We never lose this ability to harness the power of our creative imagination to transform our state. However, it seems that we often use it to conjure up negative thoughts and destructive emotions.
For example, we can literally make ourselves sick through worrying. And what is worrying but imagining a fearful outcome. We know that worrying changes our physiology, it affects our mental and emotional state, we become unable to think clearly and we run the heightened risk of making bad decisions that impact our actions and ultimately produce rubbish outcomes. The worrying creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You can take control of your creative imagination to instantly change your state from one of worry to one of solution orientation. Put yourself in Action-mode like a super hero with these simple steps:
1) Adopt a power pose. Stand up, feet hip width apart, fists on hips, shoulders back and down, chest out and chin up. Research* shows that this power pose, held for at least 2 minutes causes your stress hormone, cortisol, to drop whilst simultaneously spikes your testosterone levels sending a powerful message to your brain that you are in control.
2) Take deeps breaths in through your nose and slowly exhale through your mouth. This deeper breathing stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the internal activity that occurs when our body is at rest. You will begin to feel calmer and regain some clarity of thought.
3) Switch your focus from the problem on to the solution through asking quality questions. A coach will ask empowering questions that concentrates your focus and determines what you feel and do. When faced with a problem, ask yourself the following questions “What is good about this?”, “What is the lesson here?” “What are my strengths to sort this?” and “What am I grateful for?”
4) Use your imagination to create the perfect outcome. Close your eyes and imagine yourself overcoming the problem with ease and confidence. Be as creative as you want to be, imagine yourself as you would want to be. Spend some time in this state. You are in complete control and you feel incredible. Experience the sensations that this creative imagining elicits. You may well say that this is simply a distraction from the problem. This is not the case at all. By evoking a better state of mind and body, you can come up with better ways of dealing with the challenges.
Be Curious. Be Playful. Be Bold.
“Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere” Albert Einstein.