If you struggle with anxiety, then you know what a wild imagination your brain can have. Your brain thinks up every possible negative outcome before it’s even happened. Your brain gets creative with all the ways something could go wrong. And your brain is awesome at pretending it knows how to read minds, convincing you that everyone thinks you’re weird.
So today, I’m teaching you a little trick for reducing your anxiety and getting that awesome imagination of yours to work in your favor. Watch below!
It might seem odd to think of anxiety as a form of imagination, but when you think about it, it’s just that. Anxiety is wildly creative, dreaming up super specific outcomes and explanations for how things will go. If you’ve got a big presentation coming up, your brain imagines all the ways it could go wrong. If you had an awkward interaction with someone, your brain imagines all the negative things they’re thinking about you.
Your anxiety takes a tiny little stimulus and imagines all sorts of negative and scary outcomes. So rather than fight this pattern of imagination, let’s embrace it. Let’s use it in your favor. The way you do this is by brainstorming. Imagine all the possible ways something could play out, rather than just the negative and scary. Let’s practice together.
Say you’ve recently met someone new, and you want to get to know them better. So you decide to invite them for coffee. But your anxiety is quick to chime in, assuring you that they’ll say “no” and think you’re weird for asking. And you know what? They could say no. They could think you’re a weirdo. It’s a possibility. But now, let’s challenge your brain to brainstorm all the other possible ways the invite could play out.
They could say yes. They could say that they wanted to ask you the same thing. They could say let me get back to you. They could make another suggestion. They could say yes and then invite you out next. They could say screw coffee, let’s do margaritas! Or they could squeal with excitement because they’d been hoping you’d be their new best friend.
There are twenty different possibilities for how this invite could play out. Your anxiety just wants to imagine the worst. But if you’re creative, and if you use this imagination to your advantage, you can imagine a whole lot more than just the scary stuff.
When we choose to see all the possibilities, things don’t seem as awful and scary and as your anxiety wants you to believe. By brainstorming, you challenge your brain’s anxious, default mode, widening the options and reducing the stress.
Your anxiety wants to just focus on one or two negative outcomes, but when you brainstorm, you open up a whole new world of possibilities!
What situation have you recently felt anxious about, and how can use brainstorming to help you feel better?
Want another way to reduce your anxiety? Learn how to approach your anxiety like a scientist.