We know how important staying in consistent action is. The slight edge principle by which our daily actions compound to create unanticipated results, either for bad or good. What many people may not realize is that these consistent actions are already embedded in a set of assumptions that determines whether you do them or not.
Learning to consciously set up an imaginal context that supports you to take the actions you want may be the very thing that takes you from procrastinating into consistent daily action.
How Imagination Already Determines Your Action – The Tight Rope Experiment
Psychologist Emile Coue was extremely ahead of his time. He gave an example of the power of imaginary context on motivation as follows:
Imagine you are walking on a tight rope across two bricks only a foot above the ground. Everything is padded around you and there is no risk of injury. See yourself going across, is it easy to imagine?
Now imagine you are walking on a tight rope across two buildings thousands of feet in the air. There is no wind, it is just the height that matters. Can you imagine it? It may be difficult to feel motivated to do it because there is so much more risk.
Now the actions are exactly the same – but the imaginal context is totally different. Because of this the perceived risk is higher in one, and the guarantee of success seems higher in the other.
Emotion is related to the imaginal context of your actions:
What many people may not realize is that much of their motivation to do something or not – their willingness – takes place already in an anticipated imaginal space.
When people decide to go out and take action – whether it is eating well, doing yoga every day, going to bed earlier, or contacting people to share your opportunity with – they always do so with a particular expectation about what is going to happen.
Now if we expect poor or slow results, we will feel negatively and then our willingness will be slim. If we expect good or long-term results, we will feel positive, and our willingness will increase.
Now we can reverse engineer this situation – start by asking ourselves how we feel when we feel great about our actions – and then pick apart the imaginal space of that success.
When we do this, we can discipline ourselves to be able to understand our emotional triggers so we can work ourselves into an unstoppable state of enthusiasm whereby our success seems totally guaranteed. With this brings us the confidence we need to actually bring that success about.
Examples of positive imaginal contexts:
If your role models, mentors, and most avid supporters were by your side as you were taking action that might be scary to you – would you feel more willing to do it?
If your friend was going with you to Yoga would it make it more appealing?
If you knew your client was going to say yes, would you be more likely to make the call?
Decrease the risk of taking action by creating positive benefits to the “risks.”
Increase the degree to which your results feel guaranteed as a result of taking action consistently.
One way to do this is to use the law of averages. If you talk to 10 people and 2 say yes to buy something, then you can divide your total results ($100) for each person (10) and imagine that each person you talk to makes you $10.
Another way is to fully take the action in as a learning experience that betters you no matter what. When you look at an experience as a pure opportunity to grow or learn something, you take full control of its meaning. You are guaranteed success with this mindset.
If recognition is important to you, imagine yourself receiving praise and recognition for your success and get used to what that feels like.
Habitual Imagination vs Visionary Imagination – It IS real
Many people feel a reluctance to engage in these activities, thinking they are a kind of narcissistic retreat into something not real. These folks may not realize that in every single second, moment to moment, their brain is already making inferences and assumptions, filling in with imagination that which is not there in sense-data. Fear based beliefs are already imagining the worst, and in doing anything they are already acting with regard to an anticipated future.
The choice is not between imagination and reality, it is between a habitual imagination that has only brought us our current reality, or a visionary imagination that can bring us a better reality.
The anticipated future is really what we act in response to. The imaginal context IS the most determining factor in not just our actions, but also the way we currently feel about our lives.
Do you think that aging will mean more pain, more suffering, less security? Or do you believe that aging will bring you more joy, more peace, and more community?
Do you believe that every day you are getting better at everything you do, or do you believe every day you sink into worse habits?
If you can talk yourself into it, you can talk yourself out of it. And as Esther Hicks says beautifully – a belief is nothing but a thought you keep thinking… So compost those old thoughts, heal, and start thinking new thoughts.
Create Metaphors of Objects and Actions That Guarantee Success
If you make money by calling people, put a picture of an ATM on the back of your phone and tell yourself that every time you use your phone it is like taking money out or making a deposit into your bank.
If you get healthier by taking walks think of your walking shoes as health creating machines that support your whole body in getting healthier.
If you want to feel more confident in doing something, imagine that everyone involved is there JUST FOR YOU, to encourage you and help you towards success. Imagine any challenges were put there as opportunities for you to learn something you need to learn for your long-term success. That you are being prepared for bigger success by dealing with smaller problems now.
Your brain has done something amazing – it did not have to create such a sensory rich world for you, but these colors and sounds were important in our evolutionary past and now what a gift we have… Imagine the world, all the colors, sounds, tastes, etc. were put here just for you. While it is not true that the objects or beings in the world are here for our use – it IS true that our experience of the world is a big from our evolutionary history!
If you are committed to manifest an opportunity – live into and through that reality
The best leaders in the world relentlessly live in an imaginal space that is better than the present for all beings – humans, animals, plants, etc.
Others cannot share your vision exactly so don’t expect them to. You have been given your vision because it is YOURS. You are tasked with its creation – and it will take time, persistence, and an absolute faith to create it.
Now how can you create that unwavering faith unless you confront doubt?
How can you manifest that optimism unless you overcome any hint of pessimism.
How can you lead unless you confront all the problems that come with leading?
Are you willing to sacrifice those small aspects of the present in order to live into your greater vision? Or will you sacrifice your greater vision to feel gratified in the present?
The best leaders are able to source their happiness internally – the love of the journey, the blessing of the growth and the learning, the gifts that can only come from not receiving what you want when you think you should get it – so that you can give what you want when you no longer need it. It seems the “universe” will test you and will force you to the point where you no longer need what you want, so when you become abundant in it you can give it away as service.
Or if you prefer, what you want will not gratify you even when you get it until you reach the point of recognition that it is in giving it that its true value is paradoxically received. When it no longer matters to get it, you become attractive instead of desperate, and this makes the whole world want to be around you. And what better way to cultivate that freedom, then to tarry with attachment and longing until you win?
So create an imaginal space where you DO win. Where you are giving away what you say you want right now, and see the joy of others receiving it. See the space where it no longer matters because you have disassociated your sense of joy from your results and instead have fallen in love with the service or generosity inherent in the actions that create the results.
Trick your mind into seeing visionary realities – it may already be tricking you into seeing pessimistic ones.
Go where no one will or can go, and soon you will have blazed a trail that everyone takes for granted.