Imaginary Friends Are the Key to Self-Help
by Chris Foley | published Apr. 27th, 2020
When she was 70 years old, Agatha Christie wrote an autobiography. She wrote accounts of her amazing detective novels starring Hercule Poirot, and also to the surprise of thousands of readers, about her several imaginary friends.
Christie wrote about her imaginary friends and how much they helped her. They would cheer her on to finish the grueling last chapters of novels, push her to be the best person she could be and even kept her company in moments of solitude. The strange thing about Christie's imaginary friends and their alleged benefits is that they’re actually backed up by science.
Over the past decade, psychological studies have been accumulating proof that imaginary friends have helped kids communicate better, exercise their imagination and most importantly, solve problems. In fact, some kids even make imaginary friends on a case-by-case basis to help solve specific problems.
As college students, we could use some better communication, imagination and problem solving too, but not in the same way as children. The most important communication in our life is our internal dialogue, and it’s the communication that adults struggle with the most.
Since we've lost our ability to communicate, it’s about time we revive our long forgotten friends.
The Importance of Internal Dialogue
What immense impact would it have on your life if your manager or boss treated you like trash every day? Your mentality would be destroyed; you’d feel worthless, unwilling to do anything. You’d take that frustration home with you. Unlike sticks and stones, words don’t break bones, but they do break spirits — even your own words can break your own spirit.
In our day to day lives, we are our own bosses. Our internal dialogue, the words we use to boss ourselves around, is crucial to how we go about completing tasks and how we feel about the end result. When internal dialogue is so important, the question becomes: why do we continue to be a jerk of a boss?
The next time you struggle with getting out of bed when your pillow feels extra comforting that day and your blankets' warm hug draws you back to slumber, pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself in your mind. In a perfect world, you’d be thinking, “Let’s go get this day! Rise and grind, baby!” That, however, in a normal college world might sound quite different like, “Come on, dumbass. Get out of bed. You can at least do that, right?”
These are toxic words that will lead to a similarly toxic day. It’s something a lot of people struggle with. Internal dialogue makes or breaks anything that you do and is the key to self-help and a positive mindset. In the end, spite won't get you out of bed, but perhaps in many cases you’ll get out of bed because you want to spend time with a friend, have a group that is counting on you for a project or you have a teacher’s class that you really enjoy.
For the people that struggle with internal dialogue or can’t find a purpose on a given day, I offer this only-slightly-insane countermeasure.
The Idea of an Imaginary Friend
Self-help is hard. Why? Often times, people struggle with self-help because of the “self” part. Most people tend to be able to lend others a hand or give them advice that seems obvious or needed, but then fail to apply it to their own life because introspective is difficult. We help others before ourselves. You’ll tend to see this in romantic relationships quite a bit.
A lot of people in relationships will tend to do things like lose weight or better themselves for their partner when they wouldn’t have done so for themselves. I believe this person that exists outside ourselves could be imaginary and still fill that same purpose. Let’s make an imaginary friend.
Our imaginary friend, Quinn, is a 28-year-old geologist with a real thing for hawks. She’s an animal person too, so you tend to relate and enjoy her company. Quinn is a strong, responsible person — the type you look up to like an older sister and wouldn’t want to let down. Although she’s imaginary, like a superhero, she has the ability to inspire you to do the things that you want and need to accomplish.
How do we use our newfound friend to our advantage?
We’ve all had that one class that should be really interesting based upon the content, but the professor is monotone at best and seems to never be that interested in the subject. No one wants to get out of bed for that class, especially not with having to trek through the tundra of winter-time Rochester. But you aren’t no one! You’re armed to the teeth with an arsenal of imaginary friends that work as excuses to get yourself to that class.
Just think: what would Quinn do? Well, Quinn is a badass, take-no-crap geologist who is too strong and responsible not to go to that class. Quinn would be disappointed if you didn’t go because she expects you to be the best and be just as strong as her. As animal people, you relate so well, you wouldn’t want to let her down and ruin your friendship, right?
Right! You get out of bed, go to class and do it all for Quinn because you wouldn’t have done it for yourself. You’ve done the task you needed to do and even though it wasn’t exactly for yourself, you got it done.
Similar to children, you’ll eventually outgrow your imaginary friend for that area that you were lacking in, and then you’ll make a new friend for a new area in which you struggle. The cycle of self-help continues and you become a better person.
If all of this sounds completely ridiculous, it is. It might be childish, but didn’t things seem better when you were a kid? Weren’t things so much more simple? Maybe we need to start thinking like children to get the results we’re looking for as adults.