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  1. Certain birthdays have a way of focussing the mind, and with one looming, I decided towards the end of last year to take myself in hand!  As an assistant tutor on a hypnotherapy training course in Bournemouth, I found myself working alongside some truly inspirational people.  One in particular, a lady I first met five years ago when she was 55, has dropped a considerable (and I mean a LOT) of weight, taken up exercise and is now running marathons.  I started comparing her with other people I know who seem to relish the ability to give up because they are “too old”, and decided right then that something was going to change!

    So, I found myself a personal trainer.  I discovered that I am actually quite strong and despite having a dodgy valve in my heart, I have quite a capacity for exercise. There are days when I can’t be bothered, but that’s when I use self-hypnosis to keep me focussed.  And do you know what?  I am actually enjoying those underused muscles waking up and having fun.  Last week I joined a Pilates class for the first time in over 10 years, and despite the pure agony for a couple of days afterwards, I will be back tomorrow.

    When I was a child I learned to hate exercise.  My Dad was no sportsman and delivered a message which stuck. “The only reason anybody should run is to get away from something or to catch something!”  And I was tall and gangly, so that was a good enough reason not to run.  My hand-eye co-ordination has never been brilliant, so wherever possible I have always avoided throwing or catching – especially as a teenager – why would I risk breaking a nail?  Not surprisingly I absolutely dreaded that moment when the games teacher told kids to pick teams – in fact I longer for uneven numbers so I could be the scorer! 

    PE teachers love sporty kids, and virtually every one I ever encountered didn’t warm to me.  (I did go to 15 different schools, so there were a few of them.)  With hindsight I recognise that I created the expectation that PE classes wouldn’t go well!  I created strategies such as serving my ball over the fence to end a tennis game, putting on a limp during cross-country, and wow was my menstrual cycle messed up during the swimming season.  And everybody supported my negative mindset! 

    Well, no more - I am actively seeking the company of people who inspire and encourage me and moving away from negativity and limiting mindsets.

    So now, I am 55, half a stone lighter than I was 2 months ago, (despite great food and drink over Christmas,) having lost 4 inches off my waist and being generally more toned than possibly I have ever been.  But more importantly, I have re-discovered my own ability to be strong and active and most of all I am stretching myself both mentally and physically.

    A quote from my teen idol David Bowie sort of sums up my new mindset:

    “If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

  2. At a recent networking event where I had the pleasure of speaking about “The Imaginator” one of the ladies asked, “What is the difference between imagination and lying?”

    At the time I offered a response, which upon reflection was quite inadequate and completely unrelated to the principles of the practical application of imagination. So I would now like to offer my considered response! It is all about intent.

    So the first thing to understand is the meaning of the word – intent – “complete focus on a desired outcome or goal”. 

    In relation to The Imaginator, intent is always positive, progressive, practical and personal which is just a way of expressing continuing self-improvement.  Any activities like “acting as if” are intended to create a feeling of self-efficacy, and the intent of the applied imagination is to achieve positive change.  It is all about how The Imaginator can move towards a better way of thinking, feeling and behaving – not about other people.  The focus is on moving towards something good rather than running from something negative.

    There is no denying that lying is also a practical application of imagination, but one which demonstrates the intent for a dishonest outcome and is aimed at bringing about change in other people.  If you work through the process of a lie, the ultimate desired outcome will always be positive for the one who is lying, but at the expense of somebody else.

    For example, a teenager, alone in the house, spills paint on the carpet, moves a rug slightly to cover it, and when it is discovered by a parent states quite categorically, “It wasn’t me.”  Their intent is to escape taking responsibility for their own action.  Clearly in this example it will be patently clear that the teenager did spill the paint but in that moment, the youngster has his intent focussed on saying or doing whatever will keep him out of trouble. A measure of this intent is how he then reacts when it is rationally explained that since he is the only one in the house at this moment and that the picture he painted in the same colour is on the table, he must have spilt the paint!

    Like many parents I have always worked on the principle that there is nothing my children can do wrong that can be made any better by lying. They have learnt that I will deal with virtually anything calmly and rationally, but lying invokes the Big Angry Monster Mum! In honesty, that has made me privy to information and events which have made my toes curl – but the rare occasions of lying have been few and far between.  Very little children who are learning about jokes can sometimes get it really wrong when they tell stories, but this is an opportunity to gently guide them in the direction of distinguishing what is true and what is not!

    The more worrying aspect of inappropriately applied imagination is when somebody becomes a habitual liar.  This is often an indicator of low self-esteem – lying to make me look better; imaginary escape from a troubled environment; an exercise in control – sometimes the easiest way to get what I want, and of course there are some people who do it to test boundaries or simply for fun.  The vast majority of habitual liars do not know they are doing it - they are simply responding to an unconscious need to make their world different from reality in the only way they know how. 

    And that is where learning how to practically apply the imagination in a powerful way can help.