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Follow The Path Of Imagination - Self-development
Follow The Path Of Imagination - Self-development

Video: Follow The Path Of Imagination - Self-development

Video: Follow The Path Of Imagination - Self-development
Video: Carl Jung's Method of Self-Development - The Path of Individuation 2023, March

Fantasizing, imagining fictional situations, times and even worlds is part of what is called "being human." This magical world is quite extensive, we will consider only one of its areas - fantasies about the future.

We are driven not by the past, as some schools of psychology, such as psychoanalysis, claim, but by ideas about the future.

The founder of psychology, William James, confidently emphasized that thinking is directed towards action. And actions, in turn, affect the perspective and never the past, which means that thinking is creative for the future. How does this amazing control center work?

There are regions in our brain that are linked into a single network called the default modenetwork. The network is activated when a person is immersed in dreams, memories, imagines what other people are thinking, or imagines the future. This network develops and begins full-scale operations at the age of 9-12.

The discovery of such a network led to an understanding of the role of memory in imagining the future. Episodic memory is a detailed memory of the past, when we reproduce where the event took place, who was present, what they did and felt. Moreover, this is not a repository of casts of the past, photographs and records of a lived life, but a constructive process. When restoring an event, we always recreate it anew, and each time a little differently. For example, they remembered a vacation by the sea - and there was an episode on the beach, distracted by the phone signal - and the beach "disappeared", returned again to the past - and the beach reappeared, but already slightly retouched by the imagination.

There is a hypothesis that a neural network producing memories of the past is simultaneously involved in dreams and fantasies about the future. Instead of creating an “eternal” database of past events (which would inevitably fill up), the brain uses some mobile blocks from which to construct events of both the past and the future.

There are other confirmations, for example, patients with memory loss (amnesia) have the same difficulties with the idea of the future as with the memories of the past.


The fantasy world, in which there can be no restrictions, still obeys certain laws. We "see" the imaginary with the same parts of the brain as the world around us. The same thing happens with other senses, sounds, smells, body sensations. We can say that for the brain, a well-formed fantasy is almost indistinguishable in perception from reality.

A recent study showed that the width of our pupils changes depending on the illumination of imaginary objects. If you imagine a sun-drenched beach at lunchtime, your pupils will narrow as if you were there!

Reading the text, a person runs through the lines from left to right, so the past always remains on the left, and the future is on the right. When imagining the future or recalling episodes from the past, events are more likely to line up from left to right. In any case, this is the case for the overwhelming majority of right-handers. Things from the past - antiques, collection wine, paintings by medieval artists - find a place more convenient for the brain to understand on the left, and new things - on the right. By the way, when a person thinks or talks about the past, he leans back slightly, and when thoughts fly into the future, forward.

We experience dreams of the near future more vividly than fantasies about the distant future, which will come in five to ten years and later. Logically, there shouldn't be such differences - it's just imagination anyway.


Recently it was found that a person clearly underestimates how his addictions, habits and interests will change over time. For some reason, adults believe that they have achieved perfection in understanding themselves and the world, and dreams of the future can be somewhat timid. How to learn to fantasize more boldly? Just assume that you have new interests, preferences, acquaintances, friends, and imagine them to yourself.

The near future is more likely to be drawn in familiar places. The more distant the time, the more abstract the environment will become - less detail and brightness and more uncertainty.

We create imaginary pictures in a certain space and at the same time behave in the same way as in reality - our eyes move. The same goes for a sleeping person: when he dreams, he has so-called rapid eye movements. Psychologists have found that if you limit eye movements, the imagination immediately fades and becomes poorer. Researchers advise visiting their ancestors in fantasies. And it doesn't matter at all that you never knew them. Just imagine this meeting. Imagine what they did in their time, how they lived, what professions they had, how many children they had. Without thinking too much, give them the floor and listen to what your ancestors have to say to you.

German scientists have made connections and proved that by presenting the experiences and difficulties of our first parents, we begin to think about our problems in a much more positive way. By the way, at the same time, another very important process takes place - intellectual abilities improve.

If there is a desired future in your fantasy, goals are indicated, then it makes sense to imagine yourself moving, and not frozen statically. Research has shown that this way you increase your chances of achieving your goal.


Everyone is familiar with the phrase "history does not know the subjunctive mood." But this does not mean that thinking in the subjunctive mood is bad. Let your fantasy take you into history, where you imagine what would have happened to the world if Napoleon won the war, or if people were real vegetarians, herbivores like cows or sheep. Our world would be completely different. For the brain, such exercises are very useful - both for memory work and for a better idea of your future.

The industry of coaching and self-development very often encourages us to imagine a positive future, to create “mental images” of the future, which will inevitably be embodied exactly as it was imagined. But this is an ineffective strategy. Such exercises keep us in good spirits for several days, but in the long term, the technique leads to depression and frustration.

Fantasies about the future are thoughts that describe the future without regard to the likelihood of its coming. There are fantasies that are so incredible that it is impossible to talk about their realization, but a person can be sure that this will be so. In psychology, such a phenomenon is denoted by the term Zauberdenken - thoughts representing actions or events that disregard physical laws.

To make your fantasies productive, you need to introduce the concept of expectation. Expectations are judgments about the likelihood of the future, a sober view of the future. Positive expectations for the future in life are often effective, but positive fantasies never. Positive expectations are simulations of the process, and fantasies are simulations of the outcome. The researchers found that simulating a process leads to better accomplishments than simulating an outcome. Positive fantasies of the result describe an ideal, easily achievable and short path to the desired future: suddenly someone gave an apartment in Moscow, and who is this anonymous donor and why he did it - I don’t want to think, and it doesn’t matter.

Positive fantasies lead to the fact that we relax, as if we have already got what we wanted. In essence, this is the mental consumption of the desired future. Having mentally enjoyed the future, the brain no longer strives to reach it in reality (which may not be distinguished from fantasy). That is why such concepts only breed failure and helplessness.


Simulation of the process - imagining the difficult path to the desired future. It is necessary to imagine in as much detail as possible taking successive steps towards the goal. If the brain "sees" the feasibility of these steps, it creates both motivation and a movement map. Interestingly, once such a path is activated, many dreams come true. German psychologist Gabriela Oettingen has developed a theory of fantasy realization based on nearly two decades of research and experimentation. This theory speaks of four ways, techniques for dealing with fantasies about the future.

At the very beginning, to better understand yourself, you need to do a little exercise. Think about one of your desires and write about it. Make a few sentences about anything related to this desire, and decide for yourself when to stop.

Next, consider the first sentence and assess whether it refers to: a) the desired future, b) the present, c) something else. The other includes all phrases related to the past (“I remember, we dreamed then”), non-judgmental descriptions of ourselves, ambiguous phrases (“I need to be more confident”) and the like.

  • If you have written at least one statement about the present and not one about the future, then you have applied the technique of thinking about the present.
  • If they wrote at least one statement about the future and not a single one about the present, then they used the technique of dreaming about the future.
  • If at least one statement about the future and one about the present appeared on paper, and if the thought about the future was in front of the thought about the present, then you were engaged in the technique of mental contrast.
  • If the thought of the present was before the thought of the future, then it was a technique of reverse mental contrast.

The vast majority of people use one method of thinking about the future. And very few spontaneously choose mental contrast, the most effective of the four.


Back to the top secret of fantasy: thinking changes reality. When we think about the future and the present, standing on the way to the desired, it is then that we understand the real obstacles on the way to the future. All other types of thinking - reverse contrast, thinking about the future, or daydreaming - do not create this picture.

Expectations are the key to mental contrast. When they are high, we understand that the future is achievable, we just need to overcome obstacles. Finding out your expectations is easy. Ask yourself, "How likely is it that I will achieve this goal?" Answer without hesitation - and you will get the best possible answer. When expectations are weak, we realize that the future is hardly available. Most likely, you do not need such a future and you need to look for another goal. Moreover, the obstacles are perceived as more severe than they really are, this only strengthens the desire for the goal.

American country singer Dolly Parton once said, "If you want a rainbow, you have to endure it." Research on mental contrast suggests that in order to achieve the desired future, one must understand the obstacles in reality. After sweet dreams, you should return to specific reflections on the possibility and ways of overcoming them in the present. Believe me, as soon as reality takes on the meaning of an obstacle, a solution will be found, and by itself. It remains in life to intelligently use this saving umbrella.

Imagination is synonymous with the ability to discover

Federico Garcia Lorca


Abraham A., Schubotz RI, von Cramon DY Thinking about the future versus the past in personal and nonpersonal contexts // Brain Research. 2008.1233 (0). 106-119.

Kappes A., Wendt M., Reinelt T., Oettingen G. Mental contrasting changes the meaning of reality // Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 2013.49 (5). 797-810.

Worthy DA, Byrne KA, Fields S. Effects of emotion on prospection during decision-making // Frontiers in Psychology. 2014.5 (591).

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