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The context for these videos

Each post in this short series is from Alec’s weekly livestream to the Facebook group Finding the Balance with Anxiety Freedom Cards. Each week I focus upon one of our innate resources or needs as depicted in the Anxiety Freedom Cards. And the reason I’m doing this is to show you how you too can live a life free from anxiety and stress.

Please let me know what you think by scrolling to the bottom and commenting below!

Below is a direct transcript from the video shown above.

Hello, good afternoon, and welcome to another of my Tuesday Two o’clock Topics. And the topic for today is one of our power tools. It’s one of innate resources, something that we’re born with and it’s our imagination. And it’s such an important topic. I’ve got a lot to say about this one, but I’d also love to know what you think about it. And if you have any thoughts or any questions or any comments, please do post a comment below this post in the Facebook group. And if it’s a question and I’ll do my best to answer it over the next 20 or 30 minutes.

So just to set the context as well, this whole approach is about helping you to identify your power tools, your innate resources, those things that we’re all born with, and that we develop to different degrees, according to our background and our upbringing, and also using those to get our innate needs met in balance. Because when we can do this effectively, then we have a life that is relatively free of stress and anxiety. And that’s the whole purpose of this is to help you to live better life and to help you teach your clients to lead better lives as well. Whatever that means.

So before I dive in, I should just apologise for those of you who are in the in8 membership. And I know lots of people who are watching this are in that membership group. The email that came out yesterday was the one that should’ve come out last Monday. And I have no idea why the system skipped a week. I’ve looked at the technology and I can’t see a reason. So I’ve raised the support ticket and I hope to get that resolved, but the email that should have been talking about our resource of our imagination in preparation for today, will at the moment come out next Monday. So we’re kind of a week out of step, so I’ll get that resolved one way or another. My apologies if you searched for an email last week and thank you to CG, who alerted me to the fact that something had already gone wrong. So apologies about that.

Let’s talk about imagination. This is a prerequisite to making anything creative happen in our lives. And I’m going to give a really trivial example. So a couple of months ago, the speaker on my laptop failed and it was distorted and buzzing. So I really couldn’t use the sound on the computer at all because not only was it unintelligible, it was disturbing. So I’ve been using a little Bluetooth speaker and I’ve been getting by with it. It’s been okay. But I used my imagination, this is a trivial example, as I say, to think, well, wouldn’t it be nice if my laptop was mended, if it worked properly. It used to work properly. I didn’t have to be particularly creative to have this vision, but having had the vision of actually I’d like it fixed. I’d like to have it working like it used to, it didn’t take me long to kind of create a plan, to order a spare part, to go on YouTube, to find a video of how to open up my laptop, how to get in there and how to change the faulty speaker. And the part arrived yesterday. I made some time I spent an hour or two, cleared some space, did whatever I needed to do, got my screwdrivers out. And I fixed my laptop and I felt really proud of that sense of achievement that you get, another of our innate needs. But it started with a vision and everything that we create from anything you can see in the room that you’re sitting in or on your screen, that’s been created by someone, started with the creative use of imagination.

Let me give you a more concrete example. After I got divorced about what 25 years ago, and I was single for a while and quite happily single, still, you know, helping to bring up my kids and seeing them when I could, but after a while, I kind of thought I’m ready for another relationship. And in those days, pre-internet, there were such things as dating agencies, I went to one and they gave me an exercise to do, and it was to design your perfect partner. Now I’d never heard of such a thing. And I thought it was quite a strange thing to do, but I followed the instructions and they said, don’t worry about being accurate, but be detailed. So write down everything you can possibly think about what would be your ideal partner. And so I wrote down the things that mattered to me and I won’t share with you what they are. But I wrote a single sheet of A4 paper and I filled in the blanks as it were, and talked about whether she would be a smoker or not, and whether she would like animals or not and all those sorts of things. And then to my amazement, within three years, I met a person who fitted the description perfectly, and that was Bindi. And it was just a remarkable, you might think it’s a coincidence, but I think there’s something magical about this idea of having a vision, setting it down in some concrete form, whether it’s recording you, speaking yourself, speaking about it, whether it’s writing it down in a journal, but I think it’s really key to get specific, to get, to fill in all the details that you can and not to worry too much about it being accurate at that point, but to create a vision for what you want in life.

My bigger vision for what I’m doing here and sharing with you today is that I have a vision of hundreds, if not thousands, possibly millions of people waking up to this idea that when our needs are met in balance, we’re living a healthier life and this vision would be about being part of a revolution, a transformation, if you like, in human consciousness. Yeah. Let’s not set the bar too low! That is my vision. And I think it begins by looking at the boundary of ourselves, knowing ourselves and knowing what we need from our environment. Looking carefully at that distinction between what is us, and what is not us.

I have noticed in the years that I’ve been doing this work, that there are some people who are kind of head in the clouds, they kind of live in a slightly unreal world where there’s lots of magic, but maybe there’s some chaos as well. And I’ve noticed that when I introduce the cards and talk through needs and resources, and it has a tendency to bring people who are head in the clouds, down to earth a little bit, but interestingly, it also has the opposite effect on those people who go through life, staring at their shoes and thinking everything is miserable and, and, and being a bit downtrodden, especially when we start talking about use of the resources, like the observing self and the creative imagination. And it helps to lift those people away from the drudgery of life into, I guess I would say eventually a more spiritual outlook. So it has this kind of lovely leveling effect. It it’s, it’s a tool to use to improve peoples’ lives. And my vision is that it will play a part in the huge changes that are going on across the planet right now of people waking up to what’s real, and what’s not real. So that’s my larger vision. And I just thought, I’d share that with you.

What’s your vision? What do you want from life? You know, what do you imagine being good for you over the next few years? If you’re my kind of age, you might be approaching retirement. Are you looking for any easy, comfortable drift into retirement, or are you passionate to write that book that you’ve been waiting to write for many years? Do you want to learn a new skill? Do you want to get a new job? Do you want to sort out issues in your life and get a life that really works? Are you looking for your soulmate? I’m asking these questions because I think it’s really important to have a vision for what you want to make happen in your life. And so often we’re put off by: “Oh but there’s no point in having a vision because it’s not practical.” And I’m here to tell you not to allow that critical, rational part of your brain into the process when it comes to creating a vision. Follow your heart, not your head at this stage. Head can come later when it comes to making a plan for how to do it. And that’s when you can get rational and logical. But to start with, you need to have free wings to fly wherever, want and create a vision that works for you. And so I’m interested to know what is your vision?

I’ve got a comment here from CG. Good afternoon. Good afternoon CG, I’m so glad you could join me today. I’m imagining you might be having nice weather and it’s wet. It’s it’s it’s is nice, but it’s very changeable. It’s like April showers in May. Showers here. I’m imagining warm sunny days. Yes, me too. Looking forward to that point of the summer. Do you remember that song from, it was from my childhood, the musical South Pacific had a song “happy talk” and it went, “You’ve got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how are you going to have a dream come true?” And it’s very true words. We have to have a dream. I, in preparing to talk to you today about this idea of use of creative use of our imagination.

I was thinking about Martin Luther King. I have a dream, you know, that dream changed the way the civil rights movement worked. And there’s, I found, it’s probably easier to Google it rather than to copy down what’s on the screen right now, but I found the text of his “I have a dream” speech. It’s easy to Google it. If you, if you want to look it up. And there’s even videos of him giving that speech in 1963 that had such an impact. And his dream was really a dream of equality in America, a dream where the boundaries between white and black were erased, where people could live side by side and thrive together. And what a good dream to have.

I also like the words of Napoleon Hill. And this is the guy who in 1939, I think it was, maybe it was 37 wrote “Think and grow rich”, which is an interesting title for a book. But he said the following, he said, whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve. And he really meant this with the emphasis that there were no limits. In fact, what he went on to say is whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve, regardless of how many times you may have failed in the past, or how lofty your aims and hopes may be. And he attributes this insight to working with Andrew Carnegie, who was an incredibly rich man in America. And he heard, complained that maybe Andrew Carnegie had chosen the wrong person for the task of writing this book, because it was kind of commissioned by him.

And Andrew Carnegie apparently said to him: “Let me draw your attention to a great power, which is under your control, a power, which is greater than poverty, greater than the lack of education, greater than all your fears and superstitions combined. It is the power to take possession of your own mind and direct it towards whatever ends you desire. This profound, profound power”, Mr. Carnegie continued, “is the gift of the creator. And it must have been considered the greatest of all his gifts to man, because this is the only thing over which man has the complete and unchallengeable right of control and direction.” And I believe that’s true. And I think that taking possession of our mind and focusing it in the direction under our control begins with creating a vision, using our imagination creatively, to figure out actually, what would a better world look like? Not just for me, but for my family, for my community, for my work colleagues.

So how would you go about creating a vision that works for you? What would you need in order to do that? Because it’s all very well, me talking about it and you thinking, yeah, that’s true, or that’s not true, intellectualising about it, but if you’re going to do something about it, you have to figure out, well, how much time do you need to sit down to clear your space, clear your head, and think about your vision. You know, are we talking half an hour or are we talking a couple of hours or do you need to go for a walk? Where would you do it? When would you do it? How much time would you need to do it? What steps do you need to take today to make the right time and environment and space for you to create your vision of a better life? You will know if you watch any of these videos that I love to go for a walk in the woods. And that’s when I get my most creative ideas. And it’s because I’m at absolutely no risk of being distracted by phones or computers or everyday life. And that’s partly because there’s no signal in the woods. So have a think about what you would need to do to create the space and the time and the right environment for you to really get focused on some creative thinking. And creative thinking, remember, is, is a bit chaotic. It’s not organised. This is a picture of a fairly, you know, chaotic situation here, an explosion of ideas, if you like. So in order for that to be facilitated, you have to take it seriously and you have to kind of plan it to some degree. Once you’ve got a vision, then you can start bringing in the other resources.

So if I pick up the other cards, let’s just see how that relates. So I’ve taken, we’ve started with card number two. We’ve got, we’ve got a vision of something we want to make happen, or we want to bring into our life. What’s the next thing you do?

Well, you might start thinking, well, what resources do I need? I’ll make a plan. So you sit down with a pencil and paper or, or computer and you Google and you find things out and you make a plan and you figure out. “Well, what are the steps that need to happen in order for this vision to become a reality?”

Then you call upon what you’ve learned. You know, what are the skills that you can bring to the table that might help with this vision? Because last week you may remember, I talked about the golden thread, that thread of ideas that maybe runs back throughout the whole of your life, the things that you cared about or that inspired you. How can you tap into your golden thread and use memories from the past or skills that you’ve learned in the past and apply them towards this vision?

How can you connect with other patterns that might be related? I’ve, I’m interested in the whole subject of creativity. And there are people who are highly creative who say that creativity is not about creating new stuff. Most often it’s about looking at what’s already there, recognising patterns that already exist and finding novel ways to connect them. So, you know, you take some idea from here and another idea from there and you put them together in a way that no one’s ever thought of before. And that’s a process that relies heavily on pattern matching. So how can you bring your pattern matching brain, your understanding of the world through metaphor, through story, into play, to help you create this vision.

How do you use this skill? (holds up the Rapport card). Well, you need to talk about your plan with somebody else and see their reaction. And it might be a family member, or it might be a colleague, or it might be a stranger, but we can get so many insights and different perspectives when we share our vision with somebody else. And sometimes they’ll look at it from a completely unique, they might even misunderstand us and even that can be helpful, but you need to share it with the world at some level, in order to help make it happen.

And then of course, you need to sleep on it. We need to give ourselves time to create the dream and having good quality sleep, restful sleep, and being able to dream freely about our vision is an essential part of the process, I believe. I know that when we are learning something new, sleeping on it helps us to refine our skills in a way that maybe we don’t fully understand.

Next card. And then the next one is emotions. How can you use this innate resource to help make your vision a reality? Well, the best way I know to utilise this one is to figure out what there is in your vision that resonates with something that you care deeply about, because if you care deeply about this idea, or if there’s an aspect of it that you really are excited by or full of anticipation about, or, you know, you really, maybe it’s to get away from something that you really dislike, but if there’s a strong emotion attached to it, you can let that emotion power you through the difficult times when things maybe aren’t going quite to plan.

And then finally, once you’ve got your vision, you can actually use your observing self. And that, what that means is to stand back, to see the bigger picture, to see how it relates to other things, maybe outside of the immediate idea, that spurred on the vision. So you go for a walk, you do something that calms you, you do some mindfulness and meditation and you take stock and you get into your observing self. And this isn’t judgmental. We’re not talking about assessing and, and making decisions. We’re not doing a rational process here. We’re simply getting in touch with that core part of our being, which is pure awareness. And we’re allowing awareness of everything that might be relevant to come into the picture and to see how it might influence things. So this is a way that we can use all of our innate resources to help make things happen in life.

But my key point here is you’ve got to start somewhere and the best place to start is by using your imagination to actually get creative and think, well, what would be better than now? You know, what do I want to have happen in my life? I think I’ve been using this process all my life, and it’s helped me get jobs, it helped me find Bindi, it’s helped me build a business. It’s helped me with key decisions all along the way. And whether you, however you think that it works is less important than you start practicing it and using it because it does work in my experience.

Just a quick word about all of these resources, but let’s keep it focused on imagination. Every one of these tools is powerful, is forceful. It can do, it can help us make magnificent changes in our lives, but like any powerful tool, all of them can be misused as well as used. So just a word of caution about misusing this. How do you know if you’re misusing your imagination? Well, it’s not hard to tell because you’ll find yourself thinking. Yeah, but what if it all goes wrong? That’s catastrophising. I don’t recommend it. Yeah. If things start to go wrong, there are other things that will alert us to the fact. We don’t need to focus our mind on all the negative things. They’ll come along anyway and we won’t miss them if they, if they matter. But I think it’s really important to be aware of we’re using our imagination positively to create a positive future and where maybe we’re misusing it in terms of going over and over things that maybe take us into a, take our mood down and take us into a more negative space. And especially if you’re in the habit, as I know, many people are, of being risk averse and thinking. Yeah, but I’d better not try that because it could go wrong. And then you start to picture all the ways that something could go wrong. That’s an abuse of our imagination.

And, and the words of that funny therapy clip with Bob Newhart, just cut it out. Don’t do that anymore. I know it’s not always as easy as that. So misuse of imagination, worrying catastrophizing, but even sometimes just looking backwards, focusing behind you on nostalgic things. Oh, the good old days, you know, recreating in our imagination, all the things that we used to enjoy before life got so terrible. Misuse of a powerful tool. Start to focus it forward into the light, into the things that we know will brighten our lives and brighten other people’s lives and make the world a better place.

Okay, enough about that. Time for a story I think. I searched around for stories today to share with you. I try to share a therapeutic story or a story that can be used in therapy most weeks. And I found a nice one in “Transforming Tales” by Rob Parkinson. And if you don’t know this book, I, I do advise it if you work with clients as a mentor, therapist, coach, or counselor of some sort. The subtext is how stories can change people. And it’s full of both long and short stories and ideas of how to use stories. And I certainly recommend it.

And the story that I want to share for you today is called “The man who became rich through dreaming”. And I’m going to read it cause I don’t know it too well. So bear with me. A generous man. So my introduction, I’m sorry. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. A generous man who had lost all his wealth and had almost nothing left in the world, lived in a small shack beside a crossroads in the country. Beside the house, there was a tree which was almost dead and had borne no fruit for years. The poor man had a dream one night. In the dream he saw a strange figure wearing green and himself all tinged with green, who pointed at the poor man and said in a solemn voice that the poor man’s fortune lay in the king’s city upon the king’s bridge. Three times the dream recurred. And at last the man decided that he would act upon it.

With some difficulty he traveled to the big city and found the bridge. There he walked up and down all day long. But no fortune came his way. Worse, the king’s guards noticed him, thought his behavior suspicious, and arrested him for vagrancy. He was interrogated by the captain who laughed when he heard his story of the dream. “You’re a fool!” He sneered. “And worse than a fool. Go back where you’ve come from and never let me see you here again. Otherwise I’ll have you locked away. Take this advice with you. Dreams are all nonsense. I myself, have had a dream many times. An idiot’s dream in which I walk along a country road and come to a mean little house by a crossroads, with a dead tree beside it. I go to this place. I dig under the tree and right there under its roots, I find a treasure. Now, do you think I’m going to leave a good job here in the city to go on some wild goose chase, looking for a place which probably doesn’t even exist? Not me!” Well, the poor man did what the captain of the guard said.

And he went home the very next day. When that last he arrived, he dug under the tree besides his house and found a large chest filled with gold coins enough to keep him in happiness and generosity for the rest of his days. When the chest was removed, the fruit tree blossomed and that year it bore a lot of fruit. So that’s the man who became rich through dreaming.

You’ve got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how are you going to have a dream come true?

So that’s it for today. I’ll just check the comments again, see what’s going on here. I got the comment from CG, and can’t see anything else, though there is a slight delay between what I say here, what I see here, and what’s actually going on in the real world. I know that at least one person is going to be watching this on replay. CG says, thank you. Love the story. Love the beautiful bird song. Oh yes, yes. I can hear it too. I wasn’t aware of that, too focused. I’m in the garden room today. There’s other things happening in the house. So I’m not quite sure how I’m going to resolve the email situation. There are various ways I can do that.

But I look forward to giving you the second installment of this reflection on the topic of our imagination next Tuesday at two o’clock. So I hope you can join me then. If you’re watching this on replay do leave a comment, just so that I know you’re interacting with me. And of course, if you have any questions about the cards or this approach, then please put those in the comments box below and I’ll do my best to address them next Tuesday. So thank you for that. And I’ll see you next week and whatever else you’re doing, don’t forget to keep breathing.

Please let me know what you think by commenting below!
Thanks, Alec