There is a simple insight that can help with anxious thoughts.
The scariest movie monsters are the ones you don’t see. A study of horror films was published in 2020. Teaching an anxious brain to picture happier scenes or scenarios helps against the inner dialogues that fuel daily anxieties.
H.P. Lovecraft said that the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown, and that is a timeworn rule in film and television horror. The human brain is left to its own devices, and it will usually come up with something more disturbing than a writer or director could imagine. The brains of 37 people were scanned as they watched a bunch of scary movies. The authors of the study found that people were more frightened by unseen or implied threats than they were by actual threats on screen.
There is a lack of mental imagery when people worry, and particularly for those with generalized anxiety disorder. Her research shows that worry mostly involves language-oriented parts of the brain, not the projector screen. She says that people tend to worry in words and sentences. They are talking to themselves about possible negative outcomes. The research shows that the most nagging and distressing concerns are usually ones we can’t see very clearly.
For most worriers, words dominate. Teaching an anxious brain to picture happier scenes or scenarios may help people get over their daily anxieties. Some types of anxiety, such as social anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, don’t play by these rules. Both of those anxiety types feature long stretches of negative mental imagery.
Words flood the worried brain. People tend to worry in words and sentences. They are talking to themselves about possible negative outcomes.
According to Jessica Andrews-Hanna, PhD, director of the Neuroscience of Emotion and Thought Lab, individuals who worry or ruminate tend to get stuck in negative, repetitive forms of thought. The repetitive nature of such thoughts causes memories and future thoughts to become overgeneralized. The brain’s ability to anticipate and fret about future hardships was explored by researchers at the University of Arizona. The study found that worrying may cause the brain to shift away from vivid mental imagery and towards hazier, language-based patterns of activity.
She says that everyone has and uses at least one of these systems. People who frequently worry or ruminate seem to prefer the word-oriented system. The imagination and its associated brain networks are divided into two systems according to the study. She calls it the mind’s eye and it is an image-oriented style that involves thinking in a detailed and specific way about a memory or a hypothetical event. The mind’s mind is a word-oriented system that produces reflective and abstract thoughts and stimulates parts of the brain that deal with Language.
A professor of psychology at the University of Arizona says that anxiety is very interior-focused and that the exterior world is inherently imagery based. He has found that people who talk a lot about themselves are actually showing distress and negative emotions. The worried brain seems to prioritize words over images. It could be that the way an anxious mind turns inward is related.
This is not verbal if you are in the present and have sensory input. According to research, training inMindfulness can reduce anxiety, depression, worry, and rumination and shift attention away from self-directed and often verbal forms of inner dialogue.
If the language-oriented parts of the brain become overactivity among worriers, image-based therapies might help. She says she uses these insights to inform her work. A life without worry.
She says that if someone takes a moment to think of a happy scene, it can help them. Imagine yourself in one of your favorite places, or recall a happy experience in detail. It won’t last, but that kind of image can turn the volume down. I tell my clients that worry is like a magnet and that words make it stronger.
“I tell my clients that worry is like a magnet, and words seem to make that magnet more powerful.” The suggestions are in line with the research. Spending time each week recalling positive memories has been shown to reduce stress. Guided-imagery therapy, in which a person is told to imagine a place in great detail, can reduce anxiety. People were shown images of urban or nature settings for a study. The study found that the exercises led to reductions in anxiety.
You can change these habits.
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