Stage 3 Bonus Q&A
“The Worst Fantasy Technique”
QUESTION: “I've just tried The Worst Fantasy Technique and resisted the whole 30 minutes. Did I carry out the technique properly?”
Well done for taking action! You said you “resisted” the whole 30 minutes. Remember, what we actually want you to do is the OPPOSITE of “resisting.” We want you to TRY to bring on what you fear, as crazy as that might sound. We want you to “Touch The Ghosts” without “Clapping The Panic Tigers Away” in any way. Why? Because, while we can intellectually know that a false alarm isn't dangerous at all… when we try to stay “safe,” it creates the illusion that there would have been danger if we hadn’t “clapped”. Trying to “resist” is a form of “clapping”. After all, there would be no reason to ever try to resist attracting tigers, in a city with no tigers on the loose!
So with “The Worst Fantasy Technique” what we want to do is give your brain the best chance of discovering that you CAN’T make your worst fears come true by being anxious—even when you try. Once you know this is true, at a deep emotional level, it totally strips away any fear of the thoughts or body sensations that had been scaring you (and had been fuelling “The Panic Pattern”).
QUESTION: “The worst fantasy technique goes against everything I've already been taught about positive thinking. Please, can you explain it more?”
“The Worst Fantasy Technique” isn't against positive thinking, or an attempt to be “negative” at all. In fact, it's the very opposite. It's an attitude that says:
“Hey anxious thoughts and feelings, I know you can’t make my worst fears come true. To prove that, I'll even help you to become stronger just to prove to you there's no REAL danger; that you can’t make my fears come true even with my help”.
Here’s a metaphor I often use to explain the attitude here…
If a big, dangerous-looking man tried to attack you, you'd have a very good reason to run away, fight back, or to try and stay safe. These responses would all make total sense if there was a real danger. However, if a little, tiny 2-year-old toddler, who had just learned to walk, came over to you to try and “attack” you… you could playfully encourage him or her:
“Wow, you’re so strong, what a powerful punch you have! Come on, you can do it. You can knock me out… keep going… oh no, you knocked me out! Do it again. I’m sure you can knock me out twice! Come on buddy, you can do it!”
Remember, our brain uses our actions and our behavior to infer our level of safety. When we try to fight, avoid, or stay “safe” from a false alarm, it implies danger, and so it keeps the fear alive (or amplifies it). Trying to stay “safe” maintains or strengthens the illusion of danger.
On the other hand, when we ENCOURAGE a false alarm, we’re treating it like that little toddler. We're creating a context where our brain can only infer “everything must be fine”—because ALL your actions communicate that.
So I hope you can appreciate why I consider it to be a very “positive” move to try and encourage a false alarm!
Please only scroll down and read the question below
AFTER trying “The Worst Fantasy Technique” for yourself…
QUESTION: “I’m stuck on ‘The Worst Fantasy Technique’. Whenever I do it, I get only a few anxiety sensations and the feeling I feel the most is just plain boredom”.
I often get emails like this, and I want to congratulate you on discovering something very important! You now have a very powerful insight—that every time you voluntarily "Touch The Ghosts” without trying to “Clap The Panic Tigers Away”, you make those ghosts disappear! This gives you a very powerful resource you can use anytime you need (as I’ll show you, in the following stages).
Why didn’t I tell you this would happen earlier? Well, I strongly alluded to it. However, as the French polymath Blaise Pascal pointed out… “People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”
In other words, I wanted you to benefit from your own experience rather than you having to just believe my words.
(Even for people who CAN get anxious with “The Worst Fantasy Technique” for the first few days, with enough repetition they will notice this changes. Either they won’t be able to maintain the anxiety for a full 30 minutes, or they won’t get anxious at all anymore. For me, I was anxious on day 1 but fell asleep on the 2nd or 3rd day… and then couldn’t get anxious anymore after that).
Even when a person CAN create and maintain his/her anxious feelings in the beginning, for a full 30 minutes… “The Worst Fantasy Technique” creates very powerful, emotionally-compelling evidence:
That while anxiety can create a very powerful illusion of danger, it CAN’T actually make your worst fears come true (even when you’re trying to help it).
In other words, even though you submerged yourself in your worst fears and fantasies, your arms didn’t fall off, you didn’t faint, you didn’t get a heart attack, you didn’t stop breathing… and you obviously didn’t die!
When we repeatedly “Touch The Ghosts” like this—without trying to stay “safe” in any way—it creates a powerful context where there is NO other possible explanation your brain can reach, other than the fact that you’re already safe. That anxiety is just anxiety, and it can’t actually hurt us.
(Again: this doesn’t work if we try to “Clap The Panic Tigers Away” while thinking we’re “Touching The Ghosts”. Why not? Because by clapping we give our brain the chance to MISATTRIBUTE our safety to the fact we clapped. On the other hand, when we discover our worst fears don’t come true AND we didn’t “clap” in any way at all… there really is no other explanation for our safety, other than the fact we’re already safe, no matter what we do).