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Is Vecna Taking Over Your Mind?! (Stranger Things spoiler alert!)

I am not trying to add to your list of "must watch" shows: Everyone's list is already long enough. However, I was excited to find such a lovely psychological analogy in a favorite show of mine, Stranger Things, which streams via Netflix.

The most recent season, Season 4 (which, warning, is quite gory), builds on the terrifying landscape, the Upside Down, with a new antagonist, Vecna. Vecna's powers lie in his abilities to alter the perceptions of others, by playing on the deepest shames and worst fears of each of his victims. For example, when Max is under the spell of Vecna, it appears that one of her closest friends, Lucas, makes accusations that exploit her fears and shame. When her fear and shame are activated they appear real to her, and she loses her power to keep herself safe. The protagonists of the show are able to uncover that when a victim stays focused on positive memories (in the show music is used to invoke good memories), they are able to hide from Vecna and stay safe.

The show brings to life what your brain does when trapped in an unrecognized fear state, consumed by distorted thinking: Your mind plays out your worst fears, relying on shame to anchor you in place. Your poor lizard brain is doing its best to keep you safe, but it's also inhibiting you from exploring and thriving. Just like Vecna in Stranger Things, your brain can create a horror movie of fears made especially for you. Each of us needs to develop awareness of when our brain is slipping into the Upside Down, so, like Eleven, we can refocus our mind on our strengths and abilities, which allows us to access and build on them.

A shift in perception can bring you back to a more objective reality that often reveals a kinder world to explore. What stimuli help you to become grounded in a more effective mindset?

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