Dating / Marriage / Parenting

Anxiety: The Horror Movie playing on repeat in my Head

person holding gray remote control

I was listening to a coaching call in Jody Moore’s Be Bold Program recently while I was driving, and something that Jody said really stood out to me and has been helping me a lot. She talked about the horror movie in your head.

If you have an anxious brain, then you often have the worst case scenario of whatever big problem you are facing playing on repeat in your head all the time. And if you have the worst case scenario playing on repeat, then you basically have a horror movie on all the time in your head.

No wonder you are anxious!

No wonder you don’t feel good!

No wonder you don’t feel safe inside your own brain and try to escape your brain by eating, watching movies, scrolling through social media, playing video games, or looking at pornography.

But what if you gave just as much air time to the best case scenario of your current problems? Maybe you could run the best case scenario movie for 50% of the time and the worst case scenario for 50% of the time.

Most anxious brains never spend time thinking about the best case scenario. So start trying to actively imagine it!

My worst case scenario/ horror movie is that my four year old autistic son will never learn to talk. This horror story runs on repeat all day; it just gets louder at some points and is quieter at other times. But the intense fear is always there. I am scared of this movie. I am scared of how awful it will be if I have a huge teenage boy who can’t talk or understand words. Sometimes I am able to quiet the horror movie, but if something triggers it (like his teachers saying he didn’t make much progress at school that day), then the volume on this show can get deafeningly loud and I want to curl up in a ball and cease to exist.

But what if I start running the best case scenario at least 50% of the time in my brain? At present, I don’t spend ANY time thinking about the best case scenario. And starting to imagine all the little details is really quite fun and enjoyable.

Maybe my son will learn to talk and he and his sister will have so much fun together. Because of his challenges, my son will probably have a very different outlook on life. He won’t look at things the way I look at them. And that would be so fun! He will probably still have his kind, passive personality. I’m not sure if he would ever say an unkind thing to anybody! He will be so handsome, but probably the quiet handsome type. Girls will love him, but they will wonder why he is so different. If he is like other high functioning autistics, I will probably have to teach him social skills and clearly explain all the different social systems we have.

Whew! It’s actually pretty hard to imagine the best case scenario! Why is it so much easier to think about all the things that could go wrong?

woman in white crew-neck T-shirt holding her head

A Normal Brain

It’s easiest to think of all the things that could go wrong because you have a normal brain. Looking for danger is your brain’s main job! So if your brain is trying to run the worst case scenarios over and over in your mind, don’t worry! It is totally normal. Your brain’s main job is to protect you. And it thinks that planning for all possible pain and hurt will protect you somehow. You can reassure your brain that you’ve got this. You can handle whatever will happen and all will be for the best.

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