Harry Potter, the Boggart and Anxiety: Curious?

In “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” Professor Lupin is teaching the students at Hogwarts how to protect themselves from a boggart. Boggarts take the shape of what the person fears most. Lupin advises the students to picture what they fear most and use the incantation “Riddikulus.” However, just using the incantation isn’t enough. “What really finishes a boggart is laughter. You need to force it to assume a shape you find amusing.”

Todd Kashdan offers similar advice for dealing with anxiety in his book “Curious?”. The incantation he uses is “I’m having the thought that…” followed by whatever the anxiety producing thought is. Kashdan points out that we aren’t our thoughts. Our thoughts do not always reflect reality. By adding the observation that you’re having a thought, you’re able to separate the thought from reality and look at the situation more objectively while limiting the power of the thought.

After exploring the incantation, Kashdan talks about other ways of dealing with anxiety, including imagining the anxiety as an animate object, like a purple puppy dog or a tiger with candy cane claws and licorice teeth. “It becomes a lot easier to confront unwanted experiences and prevent fusion (the strength imbued in a thought when it is taken as literal truth) when they look silly and nonthreatening.

So, imagine your anxiety as a black widow on roller skates it can’t control or as Snape dressed like Neville’s grandmother and start getting control of your anxiety. Who knew that Harry Potter had insights on how to deal with anxiety and fear?