If you feel stuck, have a hard time formulating a positive future for yourself, have difficulty in relationships, or find yourself traveling the same paths to the same dead-end solutions, it may literally be from a “lack of imagination.”
Here’s the good news: you’re not broken. You don’t have an imagination because you never learned how to use it. It is a skill that is learnable. And you will learn it. And it will change your life.
Some people go through life actually believing that they have no imagination. They even have a name for it now, ‘Blank Mind Syndrome’ or Aphantasia. (Great, another label we can slap on ourselves so we can justify giving up.)
There is no such thing as ‘Blank Mind Syndrome.’ It literally does not exist. It’s not in the DSM-5, no doctor has ever diagnosed a patient with having ‘Blank Mind.’ It’s only something that turns up in online forums. (thanks internet).
As someone who has taught improv, imagination, and creativity for forty years to people of all walks of life, from many different countries, I can emphatically, and empirically, state that everyone has an imagination.
Nonetheless, I meet these fascinating people every once in a while, in my workshops. They struggle mostly with a confirmation bias, and the fear of losing some secondary gain from being the that special person with no imagination.
They say, “I have NO imagination, never did.” I say, “Yes, you do.” They say, “No I don’t, you just don’t understand.” I say, “You DO have an imagination and I’ll prove it to you, right now.” This is an example of how it generally goes:
“I’m going to tell you a very brief story, and all you have to do is close your eyes and listen, okay?”
Speaking slowly and evenly, I say:
“The man walked down the street.
The wind blew.
The man approached the church door, and knocked.
A woman answered.
She took out the letter, and handed it to him.
He opened it, and read.
She closed the door.”
Me: Okay, what kind of street was the man walking down?
Student: It was like an old wild west town.
Me: And what kind of door was it?
Student: It was a big red wooden door and had a metal knocker.
Me: What was the woman wearing?
Student: Like, a wedding gown, sort of, it was white and frilly.
Me: What else?
Student: It had a tall neck collar and she wore a bow around her neck.
Me: What did the letter say?
Student: “Love is empty”
Me: How did she look as she closed the door?
Student: Sad, but she kind of smiled too.
Then I remind the would-be Aphantasiac that my story contained absolutely zero descriptive language. “So how did you know all those details? “
“Well, I just saw them.”
“Yup, with your imagination. You see, you do have an imagination my friend, it probably just sucks. All you need to do is train it better.”
Even if only a few people believe they have NO imagination, I find that most people feel that theirs is inadequate. In my experience they are usually right. In fact, recent research suggests a “lack of imagination” is a trend that is on the rise.
In a 2010 study of about 300,000 creativity tests going back to the 1970s, Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary, found creativity scores have decreased among American children and adults in recent years.
What is Imagination?
Imagination is the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality. Imagination is the ability to create not only mental images in your mind, but also sounds, smells, tastes and other sensations as well.
It’s thought that imagination involves a network that helps share information across different regions of the brain. These different regions all work together to form mental images in our head.
This is no easy task: Researchers found that as many as 12 different brain regions are involved when people imagine rotating a shape in their mind. When you use your imagination, you’re really firing up a lot of brainpower!
The same parts of the brain involved in understanding the world around us are involved in creating mental pictures of that world, meaning that what we imagine is shaped by what we see all the time.
10 Benefits for People With a Good Imagination.
- Problems are recognized and resolved more quickly. Integrating past knowledge and experience is what allows us to find new solutions to problems we face every day.
- You have more empathy; you have better relationships with others. Imagination helps in social skills, allowing you to be more observant, collaborative, and less combative.
- You have more confidence in your abilities and reach your goals sooner. Allowing yourself to exercise your imagination, judgment-free, helps you appreciate your skills and instincts, and trust your thoughts and feelings.
- You distinguish yourself from others. If you can imagine how scenarios will play out, you are more likely to make decisions that allow you to better make a difference.
- Imagination encourages creativity. It generates more ideas which in turn allows for the creation of inventions, artistic works or business ideas.
- It stimulates innovation. Without imagination we would not enjoy the many innovative devices of the modern world.
- Imagination ignites passion. As adults we have been forced into a world of responsibility and practicality imagining what can be, reminds us what it feels like to be passionate about something.
- Provides the ability to view situations from different perspectives, and broadens our awareness and capabilities to create new outcomes. Disassociating from reality allows you to imagine different possibilities.
- It allows you to explore the past and to imagine the future. It plays an important role in our mental health, memory and thinking, and language skills, and engenders a positive approach to our experiences.
- It is a great tool for recreating and remodeling your world, releasing your limiting assumptions and changing your life.
How would your life be personally and professionally improved if you were to activate your brain in ways you have not done before? Imagine if you could bring this higher intelligence into your daily conscious awareness? How much more satisfying and enriched your life would be? Just imagine.
There is nothing childish or shameful about making imagination a vital part of your life and career competencies. The more you use your imagination, the stronger your ‘imagination muscle’ will become. You will be pleasantly surprised as you use this ability and tap into this rich source of infinite possibilities.
I have put together a 5-step process that will level-up your visualization skills and give you everything you need to be fully competent in utilizing your imagination. My Creativity Training Guide: “Upgrade Your Imagination” can be downloaded now and be put to use right away—and it’s free.
Get “Upgrade Your Imagination” click here
It’s not difficult, in fact it’s really fun, but it does take some commitment in order to get good results. As with learning any new skill, it has three prerequisites: Desire, Intention, and Focus.
Desire means that you really want the results, not like my “Aphantasia” students who unconsciously cling to their perceived dysfunction.
Intention means that you deliberately and consciously set your full intention to get the results. Intension makes you feel like, “it’s all done but the doing.”
Focus means that you follow through. Learning this skill requires building a new mental habit, and habits take repetition to be formed. You must then inculcate the new skill into your daily life.
If you are ready for that, then a potent and delightful new skill is yours, forever.
“If you can dream it, you can do it!” — Walt Disney