Dear Dr. Archer,
I'm an 18 year old woman and for as long as I can remember, have had trouble separating my feelings from imagination. I daydream all the time, no matter where I am and it's constant. I have a short attention span and always think of the worst case scenario happening to me.
For example, I was at work and there was a new guy from the Army there. He was talking about his war experiences. Later, I went to the break room to relax and I had a bad thought of him that remained in my head.
It felt so real…..just like it had happened to me. Throughout the whole day it felt weird to get near him. The images kept popping up and I wanted them to stop. I scared myself by thinking how crazy it was to be thinking like this.
Why am I thinking like this, and why did I feel like it happened to me, when it did not? I cannot tell anyone because of what they will think of me. Then I had a panic attack during work. I was crying, not being able to breathe, but finally I was able to calm myself down.
What can I do to help my imagination not take over my thoughts? Do you have some sort of psychological answer that you can share? This is not the first time this has happened.
People who have very active imaginations have a higher-than-average IQ and great insight. You are thinking this way because you have what I call ‘magical thinking’, and with a little effort, you can work this creative trait to your advantage.
You just have to twist it around to a positive thought about something good, as opposed to a negative. If you practice this you can do it!
Here’s how it works. After meeting the Army guy and hearing his story, think about how brave and heroic he is. Think about the people that survived and the good that came from that. Visualize a heroic rescue or a brave act. Trust me, you are in charge of your thoughts, you control whether they are positive or negative.
Magical thinking is the most magical of all the eight traits and it’s so sad that it’s seen as negative since it’s on the schizophrenia continuum. Those with the magical trait are very intuitive, can read others well and have an immense creativity.
Focus on all the good in the world and then let your imagination run wild. No telling what you will come up with. I repeat, let your imagination go, but focus on the positives and it will work, trust me.