Thursday Thoughts: a vivid imagination

a vivid imaginationIt’s a big cliché for parents — the moment you give birth (or even conceive!), the worrying begins. And it’s true, it does. We parents worry… a lot.

Quite recently I started to realise that I have a very vivid imagination: I can see scenes taking place vividly in my head, in my imagination, like a film being projected on a screen in my head. It can be very funny: with a friend of mine, who has a similarly strong visual mind, we can really come up with entire slapsticks like this. One of us describes a scene, the other adds to it, and we see it all happening on the screen in our brains. It is hilarious!

But when that vivid imagination is applied to the wellbeing of my children, it is not so funny. I can see bad stuff happening to my children in a not-so-safe situation, when I allow my imagination to run away with me; to play with the possibilities of what could happen.
I have realised that it especially happens when heights are involved (perhaps a hidden fear of heights?), but it can also happen around water, or around traffic. I not only realise there is a potential danger here, I actually, vividly start to imagine the possible result of the dangerous situation.
It doesn’t always happen, and sometimes it doesn’t happen on the scene but a little later, when I realise what could have happened at that specific moment. Sometimes (years later even!), the scenes replay when I wake up in the middle of the night — seriously no fun!

It might sound like I’m a completely crazy, extremely stressed and over-protective parent, by I don’t think that this is the case (maybe I’m a bit crazy, but in a fun way I hope). I actually hope to believe that I’m a relaxed mama in most situations, and that I give my kids a lot of freedom to explore their little world.

It’s funny, the things we keep learning about ourselves and the people that surround us. When I started to recognise this phenomenon in my brain and started to shape my thoughts about it, and bounced the idea off some of my friends. Some of them immediately recognised what I was talking about, but most didn’t have a clue what I was talking about (including my husband, he has no such mind).

I would love to hear your thoughts about this too. Does it sound familiar at all? Are you a worrier? Or does your mind work in a different way? Please share, I would love to hear.

xxx Esther

PS Photo taken in the atlas mountains in Morocco, where we were in a 4×4 car driven by a local Berber — quite fast, and quite scary. I vividly imagined the car driving off that road.


Comments (30)

January 14, 2016

Oh my gosh Esther, this is is “funny” – the same exact thing is happening to me too and I feels it’s becoming stronger and stronger. I so often wonder away when I’m driving and see all sorts of scenes in my head that involve either my kids or my husband even. And I hate them and I also worry that I might be bring some bad luck with those thoughts then… Awful! And just like you I consider myself quite an open-minded mama and let my kids climb trees, jump in the muddiest puddles and roll down the hill 🙂 But I’m happy I’m not the only one – I was getting worried I’m getting crazy, well crazier 😛

January 14, 2016

Yes! Especially around heights. Imagining my kids fall makes me dizzy and sick. I try and stop it with the usual things though or not let it show in how I talk to my 3 yr old because my mum does it and it drives me up the wall. It has got much worse with her old age and although she tries to turn it into a joke it makes me feel guilty and then angry for doing things (mainly travelling) with my own kids as I know it stresses her out. But I do exactly the same when my husband travels alone so I can’t blame her. Or maybe I can blame her for my own anxieties? Still seeing how stressed she gets helps me realise I must keep it in check.

January 14, 2016

Oh sweet Esther… I can TOTALLY relate to this. Totally. All my life I had this imagination-background in my life as long as I remember. I vividly remember when I was maybe 6 I had to stay in hospital because of a broken arm. I had surgery so I was away from home quite long. When I came home “home” felt totally different (it was a typical german Fachwerkhaus my father built himself) and all of a sudden I was afraid that a timber could fall down from the ceiling and hit me. I even can remember that my aunt was there saying something like “what a stupid thought/unnecessary stressing” and my father insisting on that being a really good thing: because you are “aware” of your life and what surrounds you. And that’s how I see it. I know what I have because I know what can happen at any time… Strange but that’s the way it is! Oh gosh. That was long. But that totally hit that spot in me! X hugs to you!

Esther in Amsterdam
January 14, 2016

Hugs back!! xxx

Kylie b
January 14, 2016

That is totally me, I sometimes come to tears imagining terrible things happening to my kids. I also do the same with myself. I think of myself as paranoid crazy but I’ll take “imaginative”! Glad to know I’m not the only one

January 14, 2016

When I was 19 I spent one year all alone in Chile, working and travelling.
I did not ONCE think about how would my mum feel.
Now, with 2 kids, I just wonder how and what am I going to feel the day they’ll leave for their destination: knowing all I did (hitchhike in the middle of nowhere, lived alone outside the suburbs, in a long night bus rides I saw a bus crash just in front of us, etc), knowing that everything went perfectly well; imaging all they could do one day and how easy it is, that one simple, genuine thing, turn into a bad situation.
Terrorism is also quite scaring me out lately, but I am not that kind of person and I don’t want to be scary all days, all life.
Is there a way to prevent this kind of things?
I don’t want my brain to imagine all that could happen, before it actually (eventually) happens.
I don’t want this. But it’n not easy at all.
I am not that afraid of heights, a little bit yes, but the other day, I was walking hand in hand with my girl and the boy was scooting around pretty fast with his trotinette. He’s 3 and not very tall.. so suddently I started thinking “what happens if a car comes out of its garage and the driver doesn’t see my son coming?”.
Trying not to turn me crazy and hoping that nothing will ever happen to us, I just try to think that the fate decides (too many) things that we cannot control.
I’ll do my best to keep my kids safe, but I don’t want to stay at home all day, preventing every kind of danger, just because something could happen.

I suppose it’s the “mother syndrome”.. 🙂

January 14, 2016

So well said Ivana! Amen! 🙂

January 14, 2016

i can definitely relate to this. i am such a worrier. i often think of my son getting sick – and how awful it would be. it can be somewhat debilitating! glad to know there are other worrisome parents out there x

January 14, 2016

totally agree, yesterday I was on the phone to the school nurse at the local elementary school regarding vaccinations for my son who may attend the pre school program there and she suddenly said ‘I have to hang up the school is on lockdown’. I cannot tell you. I started crying, thinking of the children at Sandy Hook, at Dunblane… the Batman movie, sadly a long list. She later called me back and said ‘oh we don’t know if its real it was just a drill’. But it of course got me worried frantically about guns in America, my children going to school and not coming home, the mental health issues alongside the access to guns here….. I was already worried but my son is only on the verge of 3 and I thought I had more time to think about this. Am I crazy for thinking about homeschooling because the violence here scares me?!? I don’t know. I am afraid.

January 14, 2016

Yes, totally, I imagine two things always the same ones, swimming in a pool and walking to the school with all the traffic. I don t even want to mention what can happen.
we have a blog called and I wrote a post about be a mother and worrying the whole time since then. it goes together with being a mum I guess, we worry cause we wnat the best for them. Esther you are not alone.

January 14, 2016

Hi Ester,
I’m not worrier at all, But I have a very high visual perception and a wild imagination… so I too see things in my head. When something that I don’t like pops into my mind and I can see bad things happening to my children, I play with the thought and the visual I see to change the results in my mind to a positive. So my children our safe in my mind and I’m sending out positive vibes to the universe. So no worries, you’re not crazy.
Cheers Ciarra

Esther in Amsterdam
January 14, 2016

I really love that advise Clarra, I’m going to try that next time, too! Thank you. x

January 14, 2016

I’m totally, utterly and completely with you on this one – so relieved to read your post – it means we’re normal! hahaha xxx

January 14, 2016

I can so relate to this. Mummy-hood is a scary place sometimes. It’s connected to the love i think. Glad to know I am not the only one who worries and imagines like this!! Keep up with posts like this. Makes the rest of us feel like we are normal!! Xx
Ps – I also went travelling the world when I was 18 and 21, did loads of crazy things and at one point didn’t call home for 4 months. I just didn’t feel the need! My mum never once told me how worried she was. But now as a mother I feel awful for doing that! It was before email/mobile phones etc. however when it’s my kids turn to go I won’t stop them – but I will ask them to keep in touch!! X

Nayelli Arley
January 14, 2016

Oh! I’m glad there are minds like mine out there too!!! I’m so imaginative and yes, when it comes to my children I can imagine with quite a detail present or future situations that stress myself or that I actually love. Thanks for sharing!

January 14, 2016

I am feeling very relieved that I am not the only one having thoughts like these. When my son was 1 years old we visited my sister in London. It was impossible for me to be separated from hy husband especially in crowded places. Thoughts that someting bad would happen to him or to my son and I would be helpless all alone kept coming to my mind. Crazy thoughts but the worst part was that they kept me from really enjoying my holidays. It was like I was living in two parallel worlds. The real one and the other one in my mind.
Now that my son is 3 and I have a daughter too I still have a very vivid imagination but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying my moments. When my mind starts making up stories I can choose the end now finding a solution that will let us survive from the disaster 🙂
I have also used some Bach remedies.They may have acted as a placebo but I believe they have worked for me. x
Tasoulitsa from Greece

January 15, 2016

This has been happening to me for years. Definitely since I was a teenager, thinking about bad things happening to my parents, grandmother. And now that I’m 35 with kids, the kids are involved too.
My mom has always told me that she loves having dreams when she sleeps and that she’s able to stop a bad dream and wake herself up when she doesn’t like the direction a dream is going. I now try to apply that to my bad day dreaming, just stopping them once I realize I’m in the middle of thinking something horrible. It is comforting to hear this happens to others as this isn’t something I’ve ever shared with anyone else. So thank you for opening up about it!!

January 15, 2016

I was talking to a very bemused husband about this exact thing yesterday, except I referred to it as an intense risk assessment of almost any situation my children are in. I have been quite concerned with the way I do this, so have found your post (and others comments) very reassuring – thank you.

January 15, 2016

I can completely relate.

January 15, 2016

Reading all these posts has made me realise just how normal I actually am. Before I had kids I worried more than most,I think, but now I loose a huge amount of sleep worrying about our/their future. Like they are real and they actually will happen. More often than not everything turns out fine. I guess it must be something that gets switched on the moment we give birth.
I’d like to thank everyone who’s made a comment here,because now I know it not extreme behavior and it’s more common than I’m led to believe X

January 15, 2016

Esther, I completely relate to this post. I’m a huge worrier with an over active imagination. I love that I have an active imagination, but there are times when I just have to stop and take a breath.

January 15, 2016

This is completely what I do … never told anyone about it and manage to stop most of the thoughts when I realise where my brain is taking me. It’s getting worse as my kids are getting older (they are 9 and 12) and are beginning to go out into the world without me. Again I think I’m actually quite a relaxed person. Thank you for sharing this and making us all realise we are not mad!

Ana Ruivo
January 15, 2016

Oh Esther I totally relate with this. Actually in my case is kind of scary and I usually never share my “visions” because most of the time they are super morbid. I’ve been like this since I can remember me as myself. My brain can project really movies and those images repeat themselves no matter how much time it passed from the situation it trigged.
I was living near a lake and every time I passed it I could see my daughter falling in it (just like a movie, not a thought, I actually can see it) it’s terrible but I kind of managed to live with this. On the other hand this super vivid imagination and memory helped me a lot passing exames and all tests in my life. I was doing an exam and I could actually skip the pages thought the books in my mind find the answers. I know it’s crazy! =D xxx

January 15, 2016

I have exactly the same! Apparently creative people can do this in their mind. I know you well enough and would say you are definately not an over protective parent!

January 15, 2016

I do this too! There is an excellent Australian film about this, not specific to mothering but about vividly seeing every possible disaster and letting it rule your life. It is called Look Both Ways, I recommend it.

January 17, 2016

Hi Esther. I thought I was alone in this. I’m about to be a mum to a second little one but the vivid imaginations started long before I had kids. Often in the car alone I’ll imagine mostly tragic scenarios playing out either to myself or my loved ones. The details are so clear and the stories so involved they have often brought me to tears. I get cross with myself for allowing my ,India to even go to such dark places but I see from the comments above there are a lot of people who share in the same overactive imagination. Sometimes my husband will see my mind wandering and ask what I was thinking about. It’s only when I describe to him the scenario in all its complicated detail and the minute or so that my mind had to imagine all that, that I think wow…that’s a pretty vivid imagination…it can feel like 20 mins has passed when your mind covers all that. Regardless I’m a very happy person.

Louise Morgans
January 18, 2016

I don’t normally comment but I just had too with this one. I too have a very vivid imagination and I totally get what you mean; myself and my sisters all do this and we call them our ‘mental movies’. I’m extremely relaxed with my children (probably too relaxed), but then at night when I’m over tired I’ll think of all the things that could of gone wrong and have to work hard at blocking the thoughts away; I mostly get like this when I’m about to travel, I worry about abduction a lot; thankfully when I’m in the situation I’m not a worrier it’s usually beforehand or after. I also have lots of positive visualisations too whether it be home decor, holidays or imagining my children grown up is one of my favourites. I think people with this mind are much better at attracting positive things into their lives. I thought everyone was the same until I asked my husband to visualise how a certain floor would look and he looked at me blank and said he’d need to see a picture – that amazes me!! I’d be lost without this ability!! I spend large chunks of my day day dreaming and I thoroughly enjoy it.

Esther in Amsterdam
January 19, 2016

Sounds just like me! : ) x

Irene Kemp
January 19, 2016

Oh my goodness Esther, l am not mad! Wow in a strange way, what a reassuring post! I have been like this since the day my children were born and in my mind l thought it was just me! I used to look at all my mummy friends and think my goodness is it only me saying ‘slow down there is a road there’, ‘maybe not so high up that tree’!! I sometimes wish l could put the pause on it! I worry about absolutely every thing! It took my 5 years to be brave enough to take my children abroad!!! How sad is that? We had a great time and l wondered what the big fuss l created in my head was all about. Before we went l had something happening to the plane, l had them hurting there heads on marble flooring, hitting their head on the poolside, you name it, l thought it.
I think it is very different for men. My husband has no where near the amount of anxieties l have about the children. He is quite happy for them to be up a tree with one hand and no way of getting down, in fact l don’t think he even sees the danger! Maybe men and women just approach it differently, but l can say this, reading your post made me breath a sigh of relief that maybe after all, l am somewhat normal?! X

January 22, 2016

This is me completely. I’m so thankful for this post and all the comments. I’ve always had a vivid imagination (visualizing positive and negative situations that could happen), but it hit record high after having children, and it is mostly all the things that could go wrong. Now as I approach 40 yrs old, I pair this with insomnia and it’s a looooong night 🙂

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