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.