What if you could use those anxious feelings to help you? There are many ways that anxiety is a superpower, it helps us foresee danger, gives us cues that something might be wrong and challenges our impulses when they need to be. So many are overwhelmed with anxiety, it can cause over-thinking, catastrophizing, wanting to hide or isolate from others. We look at it as this bad thing that ruins our lives.
Anxiety supports the imagination part of our brain. I mean really think about the last thing you were anxious about. How far did your mind take it? How many scenarios were you able to come up with? This is imagination in action, it just isn’t suiting us the way we always want it to.
Imagination in Action – Redirecting that Anxious feeling
So what if we could support this imagination in a different direction? Be cautious here – we aren’t talking about eliminating your anxiety or even invalidating it. You can feel it for a little while, nurture it, support it and then shift. After feeling the feelings, work on grounding yourself. There are some examples here:
Then talk a few deep breaths, just making your exhales a little longer than your inhales. Think about the situation and what you are anxious about. Then turn your attention to what can go right, and what would it mean for this to work out. Even if you made a mistake – could you learn from it? Do you trust yourself to do better next time? Think of not only how things could pan out wonderfully but if they don’t your capability to handle it.
Really allow yourself to paint a picture. Imagination is best when we can use as many of our senses as possible: sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing. Adding in as many details as you can keep breathing, long exhales and shorter inhales. Try to move forward with the understanding that the anxious thoughts can AND opportunities can be true at the same time.
Patrice Flanagan-Morris, LCSW
Empowerment Within LLC