The Healing Power of Fantasy
I'm an avid fantasy reader and anime watcher. It's not secret that I love a good story. But there's more to fantasy than the power of the story.
It has the power to draw me in, allow me to BE in my imagination one of the characters, and express myself through that character. Kind of like the Sims game. It's also one reason why people love Cosplay.
In the words of one of my clients, it allows him to BE someone he is not. I asked him then whether he meant that it allowed him to BE more of himself that he could show in his everyday life?
He said yes, with a glitter in his eye.
So what has this got to do with anything?
Plenty. Fantasy or fantasizing is a very powerful way to allow us to express our emotions in a very safe way. And I don't mean safe like "I don't really have to strangle that bastard but still get the satisfaction" kind of way. I mean that it is safe because it can be secret/ private, and that you are in full control of the fantasy.
Now, there are 2 ways (at least) in using fantasy to express our true feelings (A.K.A. our "True Self").
1) SYMBOLIC FANTASY
You can use fantasy to symbolize your feelings. Make it a character or a pokemon. Talk to it to learn about it. This changes your relationship to an otherwise big and scary feeling. The movie "Inside Out" is a perfect example of symbolizing your feelings.
Simply take a moment to breathe and be aware of your body. Start to sense inwards to the physical sense of a feeling (remember: Focusing always starts and ends in the body). Feel it as raw sensation for at least half a minute. Based on this feeling, start to make this feeling a character. What character best captures the physical sense of the feeling?
Once you have it, you can start to interact with it to learn what it has to tell you. The movie (A Monster Calls - by Patrick Ness) is an example of a fantasized feeling made into a monster that teaches the protagonist lessons that allowed him to grow.
Tip: allow your feeling-character to evolve. It helps to avoid being fixed on one form for your feeling. Allow your fantasy of it to grow as you sense it evolving.
As an example, I sometimes feel very sad but it's such a huge feeling that nothing can quite express it. So I imagine it as a twisted bruise in my solar plexus, all purple and blotchy. Then I imagine a pair of my own hands cradling this twisted bruise. Surprisingly (and pleasantly), images, memories and fantasies slowly start to surface from this bruised place. Each time this happens, I feel it untwist a tiny little bit.
2) EXPRESSIVE FANTASY
If you're already in touch with your feelings, and feel the need to express them as yourself, then it helps to fantasize how best to express your emotions. As you express it in your imagination, keep sensing how this expression changes the physical sense of your emotions. Alter your expression according to the way the physical sense shifts and unfolds.
Remember, you can get away with even murder of a loved one in fantasy (a guilt-inducing and fear-evoking image) BECAUSE YOU NEVER HAVE TO ACTUALLY DO IT SO YOU CAN'T TRULY HURT ANYONE!!! However, your emotional brain (the limbic system and it's neighbors) can't tell the difference, so fantasy will work just as well.
Another thing that helps is to really get into the details of the fantasy. Make it vivid, colourful, and as real as possible. This makes it even more powerful.
An example - I was very angry with someone the other day but I know I would hurt them if I expressed my rage. But I've come to realise that not expressing my incandescent ire would mean I'm not being true to myself. So I fantasized in great detail myself giving it to them. I really got into it and felt the fire in my belly rise up to my chest.
Soon, it broke like a bubble and became a kind of hurt sadness. I expressed this as well, even imagining myself crying in a way that gave me what I felt I needed. Then came shame, and I found a way to express this as well, until it too was satisfied and passed. Soon, I experience tenderness and compassion of this other person, and I imagined myself expressing it in a way that fitted the moment.
Once I surfaced from my fantasy, I was surprised to notice how light and peaceful I was. I've successfully discharged and express my emotional truth, without risky hurting someone or ruining a relationship.
So next time, when I you're feeling something, gently get in touch with its physical sense and use fantasy to work with it. Have fund and experiment until you've found a way to capture and express your emotional needs.