I tripped over my mental dictionary this morning and I noticed a subtle difference in my internal response to two words: visualize and imagine. Both of them mean to form a mental image, but my analytic brain struggles with the word visualize, possibly because it carries overtones of “seeing”.
Imagine, on the other hand, is much older and softer word that I find more comfortable. I can sneak up on a mental image by imagining it; but when I attempt to visualize it, I try too hard. Visualize is directive, while imagine is inviting. Granted, this could be merely playing with my mind and its inner workings, but it applies to communications with others as well. Going forward, I am much more likely to invite people to imagine a future where pain and grief have given way to peace, rather than directing them to visualize that peace. What do you think–Visualize or Imagine?