I recently realized that I have a brilliant new talent; I can imagine my way out of a frustrating situation!
I haven’t always been able to do this. In fact, sometimes, my imagination gets me into more trouble than good. The dang thing is still very good at jumping to negative conclusions without bothering to look for adequate information to do a reality check. It also tends to get over excited regarding romantic relationships, and create a happily-ever-after future in my mind that does not at all coincide with what is really going on. But no matter.
To me this idea has always oscillated between something that should be a no-brainer and something that is incredibly difficult to do. In other words, the more difficult or frustration the situation, the more difficult it is to activate my imagination.
But I am getting better at it, and I would like to share a story in which I have successfully been able to alter my state of mind using only my imagination.
The little car that could if it wanted to:
My biggest pride and joy in life (well the material part of it) right now is my car. I own a 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX Wagon and am incredibly proud to say that as of last summer I do all the necessary maintenance and repairs on her myself. She’s the perfect car for me in all weather conditions. She’s fast and sturdy with a turbo charged engine and AWD. So you can imagine that I have a lot of fun with her whether I’m driving down unpaved desert roads or hightailing it around in the city.
I’m sure you can also imagine my disappointment when I found out the place where currently I live is going to be installing speed cameras around every school and park in the entire city.
I’m by no means serial speeder or lawbreaker in any way. But going a few miles over the speed limit isn’t going to hurt anyone more than going the limit should there be an accident. However, in all probability, these speed cameras are not going to be so generous.
Since I have little control over whether the speed cameras will be installed or not, at this point, I had a choice; I could complain and feel cheated, or I could alter my mindset and find another way to view the situation.
I chose the latter.
I used my imagination to go through different, yet realistic ways I could view the scenario, and then settled on the one that felt best.
This took some time and involved a lot of sitting with my frustration. This first step is very important because it allows you to process and move beyond the upset feeling and into a more calm mindset.
After that, I simply focused my thoughts and attention on the issue at hand, and challenged myself to come up with as many different ways to view the situation as possible while also staying based in reality.
I knew which one was right simply because it felt right in my body. I felt calmer, more relaxed, and much better about the situation which was at first so frustrating.
...so here's what I decided.
Since my car is so versatile to begin with, I chose to keep seeing her that way. Yes, I will have to go slower than I'd like to in many situations, but the cool thing is, when I do have the chance to go fast, the potential is right there without changing a thing. All I have to do is press the throttle.
Oh wow, I love my car....
Thinking back, there are many other times in which I have used this technique without even knowing it. But now that I have figured out exactly what I am doing to overcome these obstacles, I think it's going to be a huge boon in my life.
So, next time you come across a frustrating situation that is almost completely out of your control, give your imagination a chance.
... and just for the fun of it, here's how I did it, in a neatly organized list.
1) Allow yourself to sit with the frustration and process and recognize it by thinking about it for a little while. (“I’m really pissed off about this!”) Your feelings are real and acceptable, whatever they are. This may take a bit of time.
2) Once you have separated yourself emotionally from the issue at hand, let your imagination run freely while focusing on the problem outside of your control, thinking of as all sorts of different ways you could chose to view the situation. This may also take a bit of time. Days even. (Remember you don't always have to focus on it continuously).
3) Let your intuition guide you in choosing which one feels the best. Remember though, it’s important to keep your choices based in reality as much as possible.
4) Practice often. I recommend starting with something small that is irritating, but not potentially life changing, such as waiting in a really long slow moving line at the grocery store or what have you.