How Your Imagination Can Be Victimizing


Life is and always will be a mountainous terrain; sometimes it is a steep trek through cold wind, other times it is a downhill cruise under blue skies. As life offers a barrage of hard times, it offers an abundance of good times in return. Both are inherent in the journey of life - it is the common denominator amongst all humans. 

Adversity is prevalent in every person’s life. In fact, it is a vital prerequisite of growth. The differentiating factor amongst people is their mindset in the face of negative experiences. 

For some, adversity is an invitation for growth; a lesson is deduced from it and life goes on. 

For others, adversity is an invitation for self-pity; the world is a cold place and they are its victims. Unfortunately, a self-pitying attitude is part of most people’s lives. Following the footsteps of those around them, they complain incessantly. They wallow on their shortcomings.  

The problem with repeating a negative experience in one’s head is that our mind is unable to differentiate the reality from our imagination; what we think, we feel. This was proven by analyzing the brain activity in individuals whilst performing an action and whilst imagining to perform an action - The changes in brain activity were almost identical.

Thus, when we replay a certain memory in our mind, we are emotionally reliving it. Imagine the implications of repeating a negative situation 100 times - it will mess with your mind! Similarly, think about the unhelpful ramifications of imagining a negative future outcome.

Our brain perceives imagined scenarios as reality; thus, when we think about something negative, we feel negative. Think about a time when you repeatedly thought about an irritating situation; what was your emotional state? Most likely the one associated with that particular moment, i.e. anger or disappointment. Do you wish to strengthen the hurt of negative situations or would you rather imagine situations that will heighten your emotional state? 

Changing One’s Emotional State

Some people enjoy drama and gladly rekindle the adrenaline of negative situations. This is a self-pitying behaviour. A person that will rather wallow in their shortcomings and linger in emotional dissatisfaction is putting themselves in a victim role. This is a learned behaviour.

During childhood, we seek orientation from our parents and other people in our environment. Seeing them complain and whine, which many people do, we adopt this unhelpful behaviour. No wonder, then, that many people have glimpses of victimhood entrapped in themselves. 

To overcome self-sabotaging victimhood, one must first grant that it is, in fact, prevalent in oneself. Furthermore, acknowledging that it is a conditioned behaviour helps shift the responsibility away from oneself. From here, one can work to actively change their thoughts and imaginations to be in alignment with their new idea of self - a self that is self-sufficient and strong.

This is where the article ties together: When you are ruminating about negative situations, you are putting yourself into a self-pitying role, rather than taking responsibility. To take responsibility, you must imagine more encouraging outcomes. You can ask yourself whether repeating an unhelpful imagination offers any value to your life. By answering now, your brain realizes that you admonish such thinking.

Then, in order to create real change, you must create a new, more encouraging imagination. Imagine yourself embodying your desired personality trait. This way, you are priming your emotions to align with your inner aspirations. You are stepping out of self-pity and into self-sufficiency. 

Your brain emotionally perceives your imaginations as reality; use your imagination to create the emotional state you desire. 

Severin Mudd, January 12 2019

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