Dr. Nathanson often urges patients to develop this technique further by engaging with metaphors and visual symbolism. When their patients are feeling stuck, they can create a scene of them standing behind a wall that represents their cul-de-sac. She helps them interpret the symbol and can also use it as a tool. “I’ll say, ‘What are you wearing in front of the wall? What’s under your feet What’s around you What do you see? What do you smell ‘”, She said.
The more senses you can put into action, the more real you can make the scene in your head feel when you focus on your daydreams.
Dr. Nathanson then urges them to take action “by actively engaging with their spontaneous metaphor,” as she puts it. They could climb over the wall, knock it down, or do whatever suited their fancy.
While overcoming past trauma is not as easy as tearing down an imaginary wall, this action can have real, tangible effects. While indulging in the moment of success may keep us from achieving future goals, visualizing the actions you are taking along the way can be of great importance. When you see this movie in your head, you are more likely to be chasing it. Since you have already imagined these scenarios, you will be calm when they play out in real life.
How to dream
Athletes like rugby players, golfers, and martial artists who purposely dream about their techniques with pictures and narration have found that they can improve their performance. Studies by surgeons and musicians have found similar results. However, some have trouble coming to terms with their resourceful creative sides.
Like Dr. Westgate’s study has shown that voluntary daydreaming is particularly difficult without inspiration. Cognitive flexibility and creativity peak in childhood and decrease with age. That creativity is still there, but it might take a prompt. When TM Robinson-Mosley, a consulting psychologist for the National Basketball Association, advises players on how to harness the power of their daydreams, the first thing she does is help them break down mental blocks and brainstorm ideas to focus on.
To help players lose their inhibitions, Dr. Robinson-Mosley with free writing, drawing, or using whatever medium is appropriate for them. This “allows them to reconnect with the creativity we really enjoy as kids,” she said.