EMDR and the Gift of Imagination

When I want to make a change in my life, I first imagine what I want. If I have a goal, I imagine achieving the goal, and what it would feel like. Conscious growth and change starts with imagination. For example, I imagine a successful business with an abundance of clients, I imagine a loving relationship with a person who has attracting qualities, or I imagine adventures in places I want to visit. After imagination, comes the work to bring something into reality. Imagination is the beginning of possibility.

There is an element of limitless imagination used in EMDR, beginning with resourcing. I can use trusted people in my life as resources, or I can use imagination. For example I could bring forth my brother, as a protective figure, or I could imagine a dragon, or a warrior from a favorite fantasy, such as Pele, Attila the Hun, Zoro or Beowulf. A nurturing figure could be a loving grandmother, or Mother Theresa, a mama bear, or an angelic figure of light. A wisdom figure could be a wise friend, or the Dali Lama, an owl, Merlin, Athena, or Sophia. The possibilities are limitless. What is helpful, is being able to imagine. The resources are used as inner strength, when one hits up against trauma, during processing, or when one needs help with life, even if it is imaginative help. There is power in imagination.

When imagination becomes extremely helpful in EMDR, is when we reprogram the nervous system, from trauma, fight or flight reactions, and hyper vigilance. For example, I could imagine a stable home with protective parents, who are loving and capable of meeting my needs, and how that would feel. Trauma results in nervous systems that do not know the feeling of safety and loving support, and these systems need to be taught what stability and safety feel like, through imagination. Children who have been brought up in supportive loving homes, know how to relax into life, know good things come with ease. We all know people like this, people who have secure attachments, with healthy self-esteem, and trust in the world. As opposed to those who have experienced complex trauma and have learned to mistrust, struggle with low self-esteem, and expect bad things to happen at any moment. EMDR not only processes trauma, it teaches the nervous system how to feel safe in the world.

Trauma is not physical. You can’t see it, other than how it affects systems in our body, and how it affects our behavior. I can’t touch trauma or smell it. It is energetic. Trauma is stored in the body as a powerful energy.

One of the worst aspects of experiencing trauma, is losing hope, and imagination, and losing the belief that there is possibility in life. One loses self-determination and the power to make choice and change.

It is never too late to process trauma, to reinvent ourselves, and to begin to imagine a healthier, and happier future, one moment, one thought at a time.

artwork by
Lucy Campbell

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