Catastrophizing

Catastrophizing

Its a new year and many of us have new resolutions, new hopes and new dreams for the new year. However, some of us have the opposite thoughts about the new year. Thoughts of fear, doom or catastrophe. This may mean you are catastrophizing about 2019. 

Catastrophizing is an irrational thought a lot of us have in believing that something is far worse than it actually is. It is believing that the worst is going to happen. It is believing the negative outcome always even when it is unlikely. Catastrophizing generally takes two forms. The first of these is making a catastrophe out of a situation. For instance believing that if you make one small mistake at your job, you will get fired. What evidence is there that this may be true? Usually very little. It is a growing fear that swells into a catastrophe without any concrete evidence that the worst will happen. Or, in presence of evidence that does not hold up, we catastrophize the worst. For example, John got fired last week so I may be the next to go. Well, John was caught violating company policies and had several warnings before being let you, but you tend to ignore the rational facts of the situation to plot your own negative outcome.

The second kind of catastrophizing occurs when we look to the future and anticipate all things bad that will happen or that things will turn out badly. You know this is occurring when you are saying to yourself things like “everything bad always happens to me” or “things never work out in my favour”, or “all my efforts are all bound to fail”. The problem is, because we believe something will go wrong, we can make it go wrong. We can put in less effort, behave in a way that sabotages our own efforts, or refuse to try for positive outcomes, all due to catastrophizing about the future.

Both of these types of catastrophizing limit your opportunities, can affect our entire outlook in life, and creates a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure, disappointment, and underachievement.

The first step in dealing with catastrophizing is to recognize when you are doing it. Stopping yourself from catastrophizing takes a lot of conscious effort on your part, patience and time. Try to recognize it on your own or work with a therapist to learn how to reframe your thinking.

This blog post was based on an article from PsychCentral.com -Dr. John Grohol

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Marcy Gray

Psychotherapist and Diversity Expert

Marci Gray is the lead psychotherapist and CEO of Gray Matter Health. She is an experienced speaker and corporate trainer as well as consultant and author who specializes in mental health and anti-racism work which is the focus of her PhD research. READ MORE

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