How Your Worst Enemy Can be Your Best Friend

By Dina Glouberman

Dina is an amazing woman. She once called me ‘a force of nature’ – I am not sure of that, but I know it is true of Dina. She has imagined and manifested what she imagined over and over again – a True Creative.

Here are some of her work – Dina’s Creations click on ‘More Creative Retreats‘ and Worldwide Retreats – Her Books – Tony

From Difficult Times to New Beginnings… are you wondering if this is one of those happily-ever-after-ish self-help books, telling you that no matter how hard life is right now, if only you get your act together, clarify what you want, and think positive, you can sail off to a new and wonderful reality?

It’s not.

All of that does help, but you need a lot more than positive thinking. And the new reality you may be sailing to is not a happily-ever-after one. It will include the joy that flows through you, the pain that you accept is part of life, the new successes and new failures, the growing knowledge of who you really are, the discovery of what you really love, the understanding of what you contribute to the world around, and the whole package of a life that is constantly renewing itself.

Are you up for this? I hope so. Because this is what this book, and your own imagination, can help you to do.

The secret is to learn how to make changes in your imagination before you make them in reality. This is the basis of the Imagework approach I have pioneered for almost thirty years.

In fact, educating your imagination is in my view your single most important tool to understand and guide your life, and this is particularly so when you are about to turn a corner. By the end of this book, I hope you will not only have a new vision of where you are, and where you are going, and how to get there, but also a new way of thinking that you can carry on with from here on in.

That in itself is a new beginning.

You need all the friends you can get

Let’s start with something very basic and yet quite rare—really good friends. When you are facing difficult times of any kind, or just feeling stuck and knowing it is a time for a change, you need all the good friends you can get—and, if possible, no worst enemies.

You want people around who will do all the things friends or advisers do at their best: love you, have compassion if you’re in trouble but also remind you just how strong and wonderful you are, gently help you to stop denying painful truths and to start being more honest with yourself, point out your options, remind you of what you love and what you are good at, encourage you to keep going, and just help in any way they can without trying to take over. You want people who will encourage you to expand, to be the most you can be.

You certainly don’t want people who criticize you, blame you, tell you it’s all your fault, remind you just how hopeless and powerless you are, say that you might as well give up now. People like this are really pushing you to contract, make yourself smaller and weaker and more powerless.

But which worst enemy is also your best friend?

Your own imagination, of course.

Your inner imagery has an amazing power, and it can work to support and guide you or to attack and hold you back, in fact to do all those things that good friends do, but also the ones worst enemies do.

So whether you’ve got friends or enemies around you in your life—or even when you feel utterly alone–you’ve always got your own imagination.  Let’s make sure it is your best friend.

The power of your imagination

Everything that you create in your life, from an omelette to a multinational company to a love affair, begins as an image in your mind. Your deepest attitudes are held in the form of images or metaphors and your view of the future will similarly begin as a picture or story or image that you may never question.

These images are often unconscious and may originate in very early childhood, and they guide your mind, your body, your emotions, and your most basic attitudes to life without you necessarily being aware.

When is your imagination your worst enemy? It is whenever it attacks you, worries you, frightens you, humiliates you, blames you, criticizes you, threatens you with some dire end you might come to—just like a bullying worst enemy could do.

For example, have you ever laid awake at night, terrified by what will happen to you if you get too old, too ill, too damaged by Alzheimers, too poor, too lonely, too grief stricken by loss of a loved one, or all of the above? Or do you have some other haunting fear?

If you look closely you’ll discover that there’s a picture in there, of you collapsed, small, young, helpless or hopeless, which you take to be your future if this or that happens.  This is your imagination attacking you and getting you to contract, to stay safe, to go back into your cave.

Do you ever feel horribly humiliated as you remember a time in the past? Again, there’s a picture or a sense impression of you in there, even if you can’t see it right now, and it’s so powerful that you are feeling all those feelings all over again.

Do you ever feel absolutely awful because you are going over and over in your mind what you should have done or how much better your life would have been if you hadn’t made a mess? Your inner images are full of blame and accusation or are torturing you with how things would have been if you’d been different—or how wonderfully off everyone else is because they did not make any mistakes.

On the positive side, do you ever feel confident about the future? Do you have a picture or a sense of yourself being okay, smiling happily and standing tall?  This again is your imagination, being your friend, holding your hand, so that you feel safe even when things look risky from the outside.

Your images even control your autonomic nervous system, the one that includes your heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, salivation, perspiration, that sort of thing,

all of which we normally think of as beyond our control. Think for example of trying to make yourself salivate by telling yourself to salivate. It doesn’t work all that well. But try to vividly imagine sucking a very sour lemon, and see what happens! Words don’t control it but images do.

For that matter, if you are willing, let yourself have one of those fear or humiliation, or blame pictures, and see what happens to your body, your breathing, your heartbeat? Now see yourself happy, whether in the past or the present or the future, imagine really going into that picture and feel it as if it is happening right now. What happens to you then? Are you standing straighter? Is your breathing more relaxed? Are you smiling?

Neuroscientists are now showing that when you see or do something in your imagination, it activates many of the same parts of the brain as when you are literally seeing something or doing something. Imagined physical exercise increases your strength almost as much as actual exercise, and your heartbeat and breathing increase when you are doing it. In other words, your imagery is real and has real effects, and many of our difficulties need to be dealt with in your imagination, where they begin. )

I have found through my own research that the way to deal with extreme fears of the future, for example, is not to pile up security but to work with the images that are bringing that fear about. Once you’ve done that, you can calmly assess what positive actions you really need to take to protect yourself, something you cannot do in the grips of terror.

Think of it like being in the middle of a nightmare; you can wake up in a panic and take a long time to calm yourself down, even though nothing is objectively happening in the room. Solving the problem can involve vanquishing the monster that has been chasing you, but this must be done in your imagination, and not in everyday reality.

Using imagery has been shown to deepen and speed up any learning, learning, problem solving or creative process. It is a central feature of methods from psychotherapy to sports psychology. Successful, highly skilled, health and creative people all use imagery naturally. You can learn to use imagery to enhance every aspect of your life personally, professionally, creatively, and spiritually.

All of this goes to remind us how central your imagination is to your life, and how important it is to get it on your side.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful?

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see all the images that are secretly guiding you revealed right before your eyes?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know how to drop out any images that have been messing up your life, and to create new ones that take you where you want to go?

Wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that some inner guidance is available from deep inside you to draw the map of the future for you so that you know that you are acting in line with your highest purpose and your greatest joy?

Wouldn’t it be comforting to have your imagery holding your hand every step of the way so that you never feel out of touch with your own inspiration and will?

And to know a fast and easy way to gain access to your imagination, so that you can hear the whisperings of your deepest self before they become shouts and get you into trouble?

You can and you will.

Mark’s story

My friend Mark, an internationally recognized management consultant with his own very successful company, wrote me about this story of how he started on his present life trajectory 21 years ago.  It all began, apparently, when he did some visioning straight out of my book, Life Choices, Life Changes!

At the age of 31 I was faced with a frustrating (if well paid) job in a large corporation.  I was doing an MBA degree with the Open University at the time, and one of the tutors had recommended your book on ‘Life Choices’ as a possible route to think about what I might do next.  So, one evening I lay on the bedroom floor in my small flat, relaxed and started to visualise… I saw a house with me in it… working upstairs… and other people, also involved in the work (I was single at the time)… and a garden… and a sign outside the door, a brass plate… and a way of life very different to the one I was living at the time. 

 After about 15 minutes, I got up from the floor.  Life really was never the same again.  I started working towards this new future right away – exploring setting up in business as a management consultant (which I did a year later), starting a relationship (a few months later), working with other people (pretty much right away)… and also starting to look for the house.  It wasn’t a case of ‘the’ house, but finding a place which would fit.  The amazing thing was how quickly it all came together – and around 18 months after lying down on my bedroom floor, I was living in a house just like the one I had seen in my mind’s eye. 

 And… twenty-one years on, I’ve moved twice, but always to a house with the same spirit and carried on similar work… and I’m still with the same partner!  And it’s been an amazing journey, and at the same time things are still rather like they began on my bedroom floor in the little flat all those years ago.  Strange, eh? 

His story is one of so very many that people have told me about over the years where through visioning they sensed the right future for them and then went ahead to create or find it and enjoy it. Was Mark predicting the future, or did he make it happen? I think it is a bit of both, that the visioning taps into your best and deepest intuitive understanding of what is the path forward that is most in line with the person you are, and then, because you have a clear map and you know you are on track, you go ahead and make it happen relatively easily.  When you are clear in this way, also, it does often seem that serendipitous events happen with amazing frequency to help you. This is the magic and the mystery of visioning.

  Past its use-by date

Mark was consciously using imagery in a positive way to understand and guide his life. But when you are not looking so consciously, much of your imagery is completely outdated, because it comes from vivid impressions and experiences we had when you were young or very powerless.  Sometimes the worst experiences are the ones you have completely forgotten, but your imagination has not, and the body tensions that go with those memories are still there under the surface, creating fear, anxiety, or depression without your knowing why.

For example, unconsciously you may have brought forward from your infancy an image of life as forever disappointing, or of men being aggressive and dangerous, or of good fortune being something that you have to pay for, or of every effort of yours being attacked, perhaps because in your childhood it was often that way.

You may not be fully aware that when your adult life looks the same to you, it is because you have unconsciously been selecting out all the real events that fit your picture, even managing to get people to behave in just these terrible ways, or being attracted to the kind of people who will behave this way and ignoring anyone who behaves well or considering them exceptions. What you see in the world is often what your inner eye projects onto the world.

In other words, you see what you believe.

Does this begin to explain why sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you seem to end up on the same old situations you are trying to escape from?

If you are having a difficult time, your imagination may well be running riot, and probably torturing you with images of what you have lost, or where you went wrong, or what could go wrong in the future, or whatever.  Whatever plans you make will come out of this very painful mindset. And you may well be making predictions that no matter what you do, what you are feeling now is how you will always feel, so you might as well give up.

Don’t. Your imagination can become your best friend if only you pay it some attention, listen to it, and help it to help you, as Mark did.

An educated imagination

The language of the imagination is the language of the child. And we all know that children can veer between being bullies and angels, sometimes with not much in between! So if we think of the imagination as a child, we can understand a bit better how to deal with it.

Let’s take this a step further. If you adopted a child who had been treated badly, you’d have to take time to understand what has gone wrong, and to help the child get new attitudes. So if you have had a difficult childhood, your imagination will reflect that, and will need your loving attention.

On the other hand, if you adopted a child who had been treated well, you’d have less to deal with and a much easier ride. Those areas of your life that were healthful and nourishing will have left a positive imprint on your imagination and will already be supporting you.

But any way you look at it, a child needs to be educated. Your imagination is the same—it needs education– and you are the one who is going to have to do it.

Think of it this way: our formal education was all about words and numbers, because this is what helps us to understand, communicate with, and manage the world.  But our imagery, which helps us to understand, communicate with, and manage ourselves, was never taught to us. So we need to educate ourselves as adults.

Your images of the future are crucial when you are setting out on a new path. If defeats and failures are terrifying to you, for example, it is impossible for you to take the risk of going outside your comfort zone to actually have a new beginning. No risk comes with a cast iron guarantee of success. The only thing you can say to yourself is that whatever happens, you will still be there, and able to ask what’s next.

This is what working with your images can help you to experience.

Not only that, but even what you think you want is often based on old unconscious expectations or childhood images so that when you vision the future in a more creative way, you may find that what would really bring you joy and purpose is very different. This is because imagery used consciously can tap into your inner wisdom in a way that words seldom do.

History repeats itself because your old images push you that way. But it doesn’t have to. Life is much richer than that, and so is your imagination. You really can have a new beginning.

Your spiritual gym

The first step towards a fresh imagination is going to the gym, in this case, your spiritual gym.  Is this something religious? No. But it is something to do with the spirit of being you.

The spiritual gym is where you exercise the skills you need for your inner life, rather than those you need for your physical body. It is the inner space in which you can discover, and practice, the ways in which imagery can help you understand yourself and guide your life. It is also where you strengthen other muscles, like the ones that help you live truthfully, stay on course, keep your heart open, and generally be aligned with your deepest truest self. Your inner imagery can help you with all of this.

Every chapter will have a workbook page or two, which will give you an imagery exercise that will give you a personal experience of what I have been talking about in the chapter. These are designed to help you find out on an inner level what is going on for you, what is possible for you, and what your next step might be.  They are probably more important than the chapter, so don’t just skip them and go on to the next chapter!  The words will help, but they won’t train your imagination to be your best friend.  Only you can do that.

If there is anyone you trust whom you can team up with to read the book together and do the exercises, that would be great. It will encourage you to stay on track and keep the fun in it. Also, the presence of someone else does enhance imagery and other deep experiences because you can surrender and feel safe in a way that you can’t always do on your own. But of course you need to know that the person is safe for you!

There are a few principles that are worth remembering when you do any form of imaging, which I will give in the Spiritual Workbook for Chapter one. For further details, do also look at my book Life Choices, Life Changes which is a full introduction to the why’s and wherefores and how’s of using imagery to guide you from within. Check out my website for CD’s to buy or MP3’s to download so that I can talk you through images.

Remember that this is all an adventure. Fasten your seat belt and enjoy it. Don’t judge it as you are going along or even try to figure out what it means, and be careful not to twist it to end as you wish. See it as a game that you are playing, and if there are any conclusions to be drawn, you will draw them later.

For now, all you need is your curiosity and your willingness to be open to new ways of thinking.

Einstein once said: ”Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

You are, indeed, what you imagine you are. Is it time to take a risk and expand your possible ways of being you?

If where you are is the best you’ve been able to imagine, and if it leaves something to be desired, why not learn to imagine better?

Spiritual Gym Workbook

Exercise 1: Where am I and where do I want to be?

Materials needed: oil pastels/crayons, a pen, and five sheet of paper.

At the top of each of the five pages, write these headings, one per page:

  1. Where am I?
  2. Where do I want to be?
  3. What’s stopping me?
  4. What do I need to get past this?
  5. What is my true nature?

Now start with the first heading, choose a colour or colours, whatever feels right, and start to “make marks” as artists call it. In other words, don’t try to do a picture, just let your fingers do the drawing and see what happens.  If you are very good at drawing, you might want to use your non-dominant hand so that you disarm your control mind. Don’t look for meaning now, just be curious about what will emerge. This is not a work of art, and you cannot get this wrong, or fail in any way.

Keep drawing for 3-4 minutes, and then stop, and add a few words, again without forethought, just stream of consciousness.

Do the same with each of the other 4.

Now take a look at your drawings, and see what you notice.  If you have a buddy, or even an interested friend, show them the drawings. See what they notice.

What have you learned? What surprised you? What felt like something you knew but hadn’t told yourself?  Write something about this in your workbook.

Another Approach – Tony

Having worked with Dina as a participant in her Imagework and learned so much, while in Mexico a young Mexican woman told me she was haunted by a past life memory and world I help her. I said I would and used an approach inspired by Dina’s work. I asked her first to let go of any physical tensions and asked her to stand with eyes closed. I then told her that I was going to transfer her to a magical place – I did this because the woman believe I had powers, the only power I had was the power of suggestion.

Then, still with her eyes closed I asked her to walk forward three paces and she would be in the special place. I then told her that she was now capable of seeing or knowing the cause of her difficulty. She began to cry and said it wasn’t a past life but to do with her grandmother who had raised her. She had not realised what a wonderful influence this had on her, and how she had only now got back the positive sense of herself she had with her grandmother which she had lost recently.

Of course the belief of the woman in ‘my power’ helped, but your imagination can do this by giving yourself the suggestion as you imagine walking into the place of wonder – or see a great figure giving you the directions – it works. You can approach any question you seek an answer to in this manner. For we all have the magic place within us that is usually covered up with our waking thinking and emotions and all it needs is an attitude of listening and watching like watching a film where you do not know the outcome and you do not know what you are going to hear – that is the magic we all have if we care to use it.

Another approach I devised from Dina’s work is The Peer Dream Work.

Thanks Dina for so much.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved