How Anxiety Writes Stories

Through a lot of hard work and therapy, I have come to appreciate certain qualities of anxiety.  I love my anxiety, I'm just not in love with it.  Over the years, I came to see the creativity and brilliance of anxiety's tall tales as a clever companion that makes me laugh.

Until today.

I was talking with coach Kristin Brabant about anxiety, and I gave my well-worn quip about anxiety and it's amazingly entertaining creativity.  She challenged my idea in the most delightful and fun way.

Kristen offered that maybe anxiety is always telling the same, tired story with different parts. For me, that was a new way to find humor in intrusive, anxious thoughts.  I immediately thought of Joseph Campbell's mono-myth.  He observed that across cultures and time human stories have the same basic ingredients.  In his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), Cambell called this core story The Hero's Journey.


Okay, back to my story.  I had a what if... moment.

What if that internal voice we call anxiety that is in us but not actually us approaches stories with the same consistency as Cambell's model?  How would anxiety approach things in terms he would appreciate?  What if it was easy to dissect these tales?  It might take all the fun and power out of these thoughts if we could document on a chart how unoriginal they really are.

Then, without warning or provocation, my ADHD brain jumped me into to Tom Hiddleston's brilliant observation about playing characters like Loki in the Marvel movies.


"Every villain in a hero in his own mind."

This is what I wrote on my note pad:

"Anxiety tells stories where we are the villains in someone else's story."

I'm going to post the page above my desk and see if it holds true as I collect new stories.  Let me know in the comments if it seems true to you.

-- Susan