When I ask people I work with, if they believe they have a powerful imagination, I mostly get a reply like: „I am not sure...“, „no.“, „I don't think so.“.
Yet their stories are colorful descriptions of how bad and messed up everything is including them. They have hypnotized themselves perfectly into doom scenarios, into dark tunnels, into one way streets.
People who buy into their fears, worries and negative self image tend to generalize or distort their thoughts, deleting others to make meaning of the things happening around them and to prove to themselves, that they are right in their negative perception. It is all or nothing, black or white, all the time or never. That doesn't leave too much options. What doesn't fit is ignored or turned in a way that makes it fit. „I know I will fail again, I always do.“, „I passed the exam, but it was pure luck. It just wasn't difficult this time.“
Those thoughts reinforce a negative perception of the world, of oneself, destructive feelings and stress. Stress is expressed in the body. The brain perceives a threat to safety and happiness and sends signals to behave accordingly.
Anxiety is Stress - Stress is not Anxiety
All of us have already experienced stress in one form or another in their life. Stress is a natural reaction of your body and mind to bad, as well as to good experiences and prospects of your life.
Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones and increasing your heart and breathing rates. Your brain gets more oxygen, giving you high motivation and functionality in order to cope with certain situations.
Stress can be beneficial or damaging to our health depending on the duration, our assessment of a situation and your emotion towards certain events:
If you experience something as exciting, filling you with enthusiasm and motivation, you experience positive stress (EU-Stress). You still feel safe and trusting, yet your body sends stress-signals. You are prepared to cope with the upcoming event in your top-form.
If you are relating a certain setting as potentially dangerous, your stress response is a negative one and can, if chronic, affect your health and well being over the long run (DI-Stress). You don't feel safe and trusting, your body sends stress signals in order to protect you from the danger ahead.
This is, how anxiety can feel like.
The more you feel suffocated by fear, negative thoughts and feelings, the more you tend to avoid everything that might evoke it. But avoidance is reinforcing the fear and it narrows down the world you live in. Your focus circles more and more around possible catastrophies and how to avoid them. Your imagination goes wild about all the things that can go wrong including belittleing your own self. You don't see a lot of different options anymore. You convince yourself of not having choices left.
You have successfully hypnotized yourself. One focus, one thought, one feeling, one strong belief and all the behavior that follows that. You can call it self fulfilling prophecy. Your imagination has successfully created a reality for you.
Long story short: People who are suffering from Anxiety are owners of an incredible powerful imagination and a functional creative mind.
It's a beautiful resource and you may make use of it in a constructive way. Dare to challenge your world, dare to dream and to imagine positive outcomes, things you achieve, goals you reach. You have nothing to lose. The more you do that, the more you create a reality through imagination, that is more enjoyable for you. You think more positive, you feel better, you behave differently. You will notice different things, you might have never noticed before. You widen your view.