In order to prep the kiddo for her movie watching experience, I told her about all of the scary parts. I told her about the organ made out of bones ("we gotta play the bones to get out of here?"), and the bad guys who shoot guns ("bullet holes the size of matzo balls Mikey!"), and the kids forced to walk the plank ("say goodbye to your little friends!"). She seemed cool with all of it. I'm sure there will still be parts that send her running to me, but at least she has some idea of what to expect going in. My guess is that knowing in advance will lessen her fear at least a little bit.
Truth is, negative visualizations can be useful for all of us. Most of us walk around saddled with too many fears and worries about our well-laid plans going awry. As a result, we're often defensive and pessimistic Debbie downers. Thinking about potential undesirable scenarios helps us figure out exactly what we're so afraid of, and can actually be empowering. By thinking about what bad things might happen, we can think proactively about what we would do in such instances (zombie apocalypse planning FTW!).
Doing negative visualization exercises can help us to better engage in contingency planning and Plan B dreaming. I've always liked the saying, "If Plan A fails, remember that you have 25 letters left." There's a value to dwelling in "what if." We can imagine ourselves confronting fears, overcoming barriers, becoming stronger, and being resilient.
I've seen The Goonies a million gazillion times, and I've thought about what I would do if I were in their places (still haven't found a treasure map, though). As such, I am 100% prepared if heartless developers want to demolish my house to build a golf course ("When they wreck our house, I hope they make it a sand trap. And never get their balls out!"). I know to trust myself when the going gets tough ("He was a pro. He never made it this far. Look how far we've come! We've got a chance!"). I look for the unlikeliest of heroes to save the day ("Hey, you guys!!!!). I see the wisdom in choosing something other than the easy way out (Down here, it's our time. It's our time down here. That's all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket.")
Life is about choices. We can either rigidly stick to Plan A and fear disappointment, or we can allow ourselves to mentally explore what the rest of the alphabet has to offer. Plan B, C, D, or Z are not necessarily synonymous with "worst case scenario." They are just different. True, different can be scary and disorienting and discombobulating. But it doesn't have to be bad - not if we're mentally prepared. I know that I'm open to finding that treasure map and seeing where it takes me, booby traps and all.
(P.S. Mike will hate this post... just like Chunk loves the dark, but hates nature. Tee hee.)