Tag Archives: Imaginational OE

6 Eclectic Ways To Use Imaginational Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul



People with imaginational overexcitability have creative minds that need regular feeding. If we don’t get enough stimulation we can feel unfulfilled and bored by life. On the other hand, if we get too much stimulation we can have trouble switching off to relax and sleep at night.

And when we let our baselines get low, our active imaginations can create runaway anxiety, generating bleak scenarios in which our kids never make friends or learn to do anything except play videogames.

Here are 5 eclectic suggestions for how you might use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul:

1. Creative play

As busy parents we can find it hard to make time for our own creative needs, but doing so not only nourishes our souls but also shows our children that creative play doesn’t have to end in childhood.

If you’ve lost touch with your creative side, think back on what you used to enjoy before you had a family. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Art – Paint a picture, make a collage, draw a sketch, work a sculpture or try art journalling

Write – a story, poem, song, skit, blogpost, journal entry, or letter to a friend

Craft – flower-arranging, embroidery, woodwork

Design – a menu, garden, room, outfit, photo collage or app

Move – choreograph a dance, plan a workout or yoga sequence

2. Visit imaginary worlds

If you’re not in the mood for creating your own, let your imagination roam in someone else’s art by losing yourself in a story, watching a movie or play, or immersing yourself in poetry.

3. Solve problems by asking powerful questions

We can solve problems and work towards goals by asking powerful questions.

In his book, Secrets of Productive People: The 50 Strategies You Need to Get Things Done, Mark Forster writes, ‘At the heart of the questioning attitude is the simple psychological fact that once the mind has been asked a question it tries to answer it.’

Ways to use the questioning technique

Ask ‘Why?’ questions and follow up with ‘How?’ questions


If your child keeps having meltdowns at his gymnastics class, you might ask,

‘Why does Sam have meltdowns at gymnastics?’ then

‘How can I help Sam stay regulated during gymnastics?’

Repeat questions

Ask the same question repeatedly over several days, without looking back on your previous answers. ‘Whenever a question is repeated it tends to start of a new train of thought in our minds,’ explains Mark Forster.

Use questions to generate ideas

Ask questions like, ‘What are my five best ideas for encouraging Ella to practise writing?’ or ‘What are my five best ideas for next year’s family holiday?’

‘In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have taken for granted.’

Bertrand Russell

Read more about how to use powerful questions on Mark Forster’s blog here and here.

4. Guided visualisation

We all know about the benefits of meditation, but if you have a busy imagination you might find your mind wanders too much to be able to meditate in silence. One solution is to engage your imagination with a guided visualisation.

You might imagine walking down a beautiful path in nature, or by the sea, or exploring a lush garden. Either make up your own, or listen to a recording.

Guided visualisation resources

WebsiteRelax For a While lets you stream visualisations for free or you can pay to download MP3’s

YouTube:  See 7 Best YouTube Guided Meditations  or search for ‘guided visualisation’

Apps: like Headspace or Buddhify

Family visualisations: When my kids were younger we loved Christiane Kerr’s delightful enchanted meditations CDs

Books: Creative Visualization, Shakti Gawain (a classic that got me started down this path more than 20 years ago)

Relax Kids: The Wishing Star, Marneta Viegas

5. Improve a relationship with the meta-mirror

If you’re experiencing conflict in a relationship, try using this meta-mirror NLP technique to free up your thinking and help you get unstuck:

(1) Describe the problem from your point of view

(2) Imagine stepping into the other person’s shoes. Describe how they would view the problem (use ‘I …’  statements)

(3) How would an impartial observer watching this problem describe it?  What would they see? (again, use ‘I… ‘ statements)

(4) Reflect on how these perspectives could help resolve the conflict

6. Play the ‘What If?’ game

This is a fun game you can play any time, any place with your kids. All you do is take turns asking and answering ‘What if?’ type questions.


‘What would you do if you had the power of invisibility?’

‘Where would you go if you could time travel?’

‘What do you think the world will be like in 2050?’

‘What would the world be like if cats were in charge?’

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How do you use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul?

I’d love to hear from you!

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You might also enjoy the other posts in this series:

14 Delightful ways to use sensual overexcitability to nourish your soul

How to use emotional overexcitability to nourish your soul

Next in this series, I’ll be reflecting on how we can use intellectual overexcitability to nourish our souls. Leave your email address in the box at the bottom of the page to be sure of receiving that post direct to your inbox. 🙂  You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.


Photo credit: Jill Wellington

Imaginary friends and playdate meltdowns – The ups and downs of Imaginational Overexcitability

Imaginational overexcitability

True story…

Seven-year-old Cindy peers through her tears at the  kind face of the St John’s Ambulance lady.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” asks the lady.

“I’ve got a headache,” the little girl eventually whispers. It’s only half a fib. The noise of the fair has caused her head to ache, though that isn’t why she’s crying.

The lady means well, but Cindy knows that nobody can help her. As she lies down in the quiet ambulance, she can’t stop thinking of the awful thing she’s done. Her imagination is filled with the dreadful consequences that will surely follow.

Magical unicorns, or terrifying dragons

Cindy has imaginational overexcitability. What she sees in her mind can seem almost real. Her imagination is able to conjure magical worlds that delight and entrance her. But it can also create bleak, scary scenarios that would never even occur to most children her age.

Cindy enjoys school but her teacher sometimes have trouble getting her attention. On one summer’s day Cindy pauses in the middle of a subtraction problem, entranced by a shimmering pattern in the air outside her classroom. What could be causing the air to move in such a magical way? Perhaps it’s a mirage, the kind that lures thirsty travellers to trudge miles through the desert to imaginary oases. Cindy can almost feel the sun beating down on her as if she were right there in the desert, desperate for water.

Outside in the school playground Cindy and her friend Andrew whizz through time and space in their Tardis, visiting far-off worlds and battling imaginary monsters. On other days Cindy stands alone, gazing up as the sun shines in radiant lines through chinks in the clouds. Cindy smiles to herself, basking in the secret knowledge that she’s looking at a window into heaven.

When Cindy gets home from school she has a long chat with Paddington Bear.  Paddington listens with interest and tells her about the adventures he’s had while Cindy’s been away.

Later Cindy visits her friend who lives next door. Alison has a big dog kennel which becomes a log cabin in which Cindy and Alison have to survive the long, harsh winter, making desperate forays into the wilds to keep from starving. Cindy and Alison both have big imaginations. They invent wonderful imaginary worlds together, but can have terrible arguments and even fights when they disagree about what should be happening in their games.

Imaginary friends

Many children with this overexcitability have imaginary friends. Parents sometimes worry that their children can’t distinguish truth from fiction, but they could console themselves in the knowledge that some of the most creative people through history have had imaginary playmates as children.

Their ability to put concepts together in novel ways usually gives these kids a delightful sense of humour, and they can invent fantastic pretend games to entertain their friends. However they may struggle if their playmates fail to fully appreciate the complexities of their sophisticated made-up worlds.

Imaginational overexcitability and playdate trouble

Playdates can be challenging in other ways, too. A guest can inadvertently cause upset by giving a beloved stuffed animal the ‘wrong’ voice or personality. And walking into a roomful of toys at a friends’ house can be overwhelming – the child knows he should politely join in the game his friend wants to play, but how can he resist immersing himself in the imaginary worlds he is instantly dreaming up?

Nightmares and night terrors

Nightmares and night terrors can be a big problem for children with imaginational overexcitabilities. They might also keep themselves awake at night making up stories, fact and fiction intermingling as they lie down to sleep.

My daughter recently reminded me of one of the many times she woke us in the night when she was younger. “Do you remember that time I told you I’d had a nightmare that Tom and Jerry were throwing tomatoes at me? You know, I didn’t really have a nightmare, I just couldn’t sleep because I had too many ideas. I felt silly saying that so I pretended I’d had a bad dream. I remember you and Daddy trying to hide your smiles when I said about Tom and Jerry throwing the tomatoes!”

Teaching children how to channel their imagination

We can help children with imaginational overexcitability harness their imaginations to serve them in positive ways. Over the years I’ve used a number of way to help my kids do this, often drawing on my training in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming).

One simple technique is to engage their imagination listening to guided visualisations. My kids – inspired by the CDs I make for my hypnotherapy clients – have even made their own visualisations. Their recordings usually start off calm and relaxing and then become louder and more animated as the story takes an exhilarating turn!

What was worrying Cindy?

Are you wondering what happened to Cindy – as I was known back then?

Well, for a few weeks more she was troubled about the raffle ticket she’d bought on a band trip to the fair.

What if hers was the winning ticket?

Where would her family find room for a pony in their tiny house?

How could they afford to feed it?!

Eventually Cindy realised she couldn’t have won the raffle. But she didn’t tell anyone about her fears for many years.

Whenever I’m tempted to laugh off my kids’ worries I remember that day when I cried in the St John’s Ambulance and told the nice lady I had a headache so she could feel better.

Imaginational overexcitability

Further resources about imaginational overexcitability

Jade Ann Rivera – How to identify and cope with overexcitabilities, part 2 of 5: Imaginational overexcitability

PowerWood – Imaginational OE

Jade Ann Rivera – The link between imaginational overexcitability and anxiety

Living with Intensity, by Susan Daniels and Michael Piechowski

Imaginational overexcitability

This is part three of my series about the five types of overexcitability. See also part one, 7 Signs Your Child has Psychomotor Overexcitability and part two, What is Sensual Overexcitability?.

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Do you or your child have imaginational overexcitability?

How do you help guide that imagination away from worry and anxiety and towards creativity and wellbeing?

I’m planning another post about how we can best channel imaginational overexcitability, and I’d love to include your ideas.



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