I've written a lot of articles about imagination, particularly those that go "encourage your child's imagination because...." But today, I'm going to play a different tune.
Our imagination is a rich source of ideas. For writers, it's a well of stories; for artists, inspiration. "Let your imagination run wild" is a common advice given to people suffering a creative block of a sort, and sure, there's really no harm in that! It can even be fun!
But letting the imagination run wild can have its bad consequences too; it's one way to completely lose your cool or change the way you see things without the benefit of verification. The imagination-run-wild can turn into poison, a potent mix that corrupts the mind and the heart!
No one wants to be poisoned. Be wise and consider all points, hear truths from the source, and never assume anything but the good in people. Here are five thoughts to be wary of and to avoid indulging at the expense of your serenity and peace of mind:
- Ideas that scare you. Fears make us worry to no end! What can you do about it? Somebody once said that worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair; you move so much but get nowhere. If something scares you (ex. what your boss will say about the big mess you made, or a pain in your arm that won't go away), do something to take that fear away (like go to the doctor) and then occupy yourself with something totally unrelated. You can only do so much; let others help!
- Ideas that make you hate/distrust somebody. So you think this friend hates you because you are KJ or something. It's easy to imagine what people think--but remember that putting words in other people's mouth does not equate to their actually thinking or saying it. Give people a break and assume the best in them.
- Ideas that are tinged with envy. It may seem harmless, "I wish I had her car," but more often than not, daydreams that begin this way can corrupt you little by little, and before you realize it, you're wishing "I hope she hits her car on a pole." Scary!
- Ideas that make you feel uncomfortable. If you've read not-so-decent books or seen not-so-decent movies, sometimes you find yourself imagining not-so-decent situations! Saying "Gross!" works, as an initial reaction. Then get rid of all those media that trash your sensibilities and waste your time. You need to help yourself build self-mastery; having these things around will only weaken any resolve you've made.
- Ideas that discourage you from doing the good. Fears again, but a different kind--these fears prevent you from doing the wise/good/just thing. For example, you catch a friend cheating at a test; find that the restaurant you ate in charged you too little; or put off paying the debt you owe. Sometimes, your imagination creates excuses that "justify" your inaction. Don't listen to it! Do the right thing, no matter how scary, and you'll see that you have the strength when you need it.