Michael Byrne, ND, MA
Psychotherapist, Naturopathic Physician
Seattle Healing Arts Center
9730 3rd Ave. NE, Suite 208
Seattle, WA 98115 [map]
(206) 428-2067
Imagination, part 1

Imagination, part 1

One of the most powerful tools we have for personal growth and healing is our imagination. We all know that imagination can be a form of play and fun, and that it also spurs the creation of art, entertainment, inventions and new ideas. These are all grand uses of imagination, and have many life affirming aspects in their own right. For the purpose of this discussion, however, I will focus on how imagination can be used specifically for physical and emotional healing, to bolster self-confidence, to manifest needs or desires, to ease stress, and to bring inspiration back into one’s life. And while I’m talking about personal healing and growth, imagination works on social and environmental levels as well. Let me start with a brief listing of some of the main benefits and uses of one’s imagination in this capacity.

  • healing the physical body
  • healing from emotional pain
  • bolstering one’s sense of place and belonging
  • creating greater confidence and a feeling that one is significant
  • easing stress
  • helping one tackle a challenging task
  • helping one regain (or acquire) a sense of purpose or direction in life
  • manifesting one’s desires or needs
  • improving one’s skill in any area of life

Some of the techniques I will discuss are the following:

  • creative visualization
  • active imagination
  • daydreaming
  • guided imagery
  • remembering
  • re-imagining
  • night dream recollection

As you can see, I’ve set forth quite a bit to cover – and so this will be part 1 of who knows how many posts on the topic of imagination. It is in my nature to start at the top of a list and work down, and so for the sake of creativity, I will instead start where I am drawn to, and that is in the area of creating greater confidence. This exercise comes from a client of mine.

I’ve described before on my page about anxiety, how we can bring to mind supportive people (even fictional people we imagine as supportive to us) and benefit from their support even if they are not with us physically. This exercise uses that idea and expands it. This is how it works. Let’s say that you have a task or event ahead of you that you are feeling nervous about. Perhaps you have a job interview coming up, and you’d like to go into it feeling more confident. We’re going to build you a whole cheering squad.

First, you are going to invite people who care about you to come and support you. Money, time and energy are not an issues at all, since this is happening within your imagination. You would like for them to be with you just before you go into your interview (or perhaps even in the room surrounding you). Start thinking about friends or family who would be willing to support you. As you think of someone, ask them if they would be willing be with you and support you. Remember, time and money are of no issue in this. You can tell them that they will not miss a thing in their own life and it will not cost a thing. If they are someone who truly is on your team, of course they would say yes, because it will not take them away from anything else that needs their attention. Start making a list of everyone who would be willing to support you in this way. Go ahead and write it down. It helps to see the list in physical form. Besides friends and family, think about teachers, neighbors, coaches, classmates, anyone. They don’t even have to be people you know very well, just that you feel they would happily support you.

If you find that you are not able to think of anyone who would support you, or you’d like a larger cheering section, then think of some of your favorite characters from books and movies. They can be real people or fictional. You can also bring to mind religious figures, spirits, or any energy of the universe you feel would support you in some way.

Now that you’ve got your list, go down and one at a time, imagine each coming forward and sharing their own version of love, wisdom and support for you. Imagine what they would say, what they would do, how they would look. Notice how it feels to hear them and experience their support. Spend as much time as you like with each one, then continue down the list. For some on your list, a simple look or hug may be all you need from them, or just knowing that they are there. Others on your list may have words to share. And by the way, if anyone is anything other than completely encouraging, immediately un-invite them. They can go. They are not needed right now. Thank you very much, but no thank you. This is your party and you can invite or un-invite anyone you want.

One of the things you may find is that it is easier to hear positive words about you from someone else other than yourself. That is one benefit in having this crowd behind you. Another benefit is that they might also say things you wouldn’t have thought to think about yourself or for yourself. One of the neatest things about this exercise is the fact that, through your imagination, you will truly be able to know what it is they would say to you if they were there in the flesh. After doing this exercise, think back on what people shared, and how they shared it. It might surprise you to realize how accurate your imagination is regarding what these people said to you;, at least in spirit, if not the exact words.

The other neat thing about this is that afterward, it can truly feel like they just said what they said to you. And why is that? Well because it IS what they WOULD say if they were there. And if you just heard it (in you mind), then you just had an experience of them saying it, and you know it is how they truly feel.

So there you have it. You just created a whole crowd of support for yourself. Many encouraging words were hopefully shared. And if you are not the type that likes crowds or too much attention, no problem. Just think of one person who you feel has your interest at heart. Someone you admire or know loves you and would have something helpful to say. Spend some time in you imagination telling them your concerns and hearing their response and support. It is easier than you might think to imagine what someone might say to you. And the support you will feel is often quite palpable.

The thing about imagination is that it is a lot more real than we often give it credit for. More on that later.


  1. BB Karpenko

    Looking forward to hearing how real the imagination is.

    When I was in my twenties, I imagined that I had a twin who was feeling what I was feeling. I imagined I nurtured and cared for her, and in that way I could allow nurturing and healing in a way I couldn’t imagine receiving directly. This image remains powerful for me.

    Thanks for reminding me that the sky is the limit – still.

    Blessings and Thanks!

    • What a great image and use of your imagination!! Thank you so much for sharing.

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