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September 17, 2021

Catastrophizing

I’ve had something on my mind for a while now and wanted to take the opportunity to write it all out, get it all down.

Lately life has been heavy. Gosh, it’s been heavy for all of us. Fighting, fear, taking sides, who is right, who is wrong, I am right, they are wrong, more fear, more anger, more fighting, families disagreeing, on and on and on and on…..

I don’t care what side of any argument you are on. This is not about that. We all have opinions and convictions and we all feel very strong about them.

This is about the fear we are all facing right now and what we are doing that is causing us MORE fear. In philosophy it’s called a slippery slope fallacy. In counseling it’s called catastrophizing. For our purposes today we will stick with catastrophizing.

What is Catastrophizing?

Catastrophizing is when you look at something and instantly your mind goes to what if worst case scenario thinking. What if this happens then that happens, then that happens?!?! For example, my daughter routinely catastrophizes. I will head off to the grocery store. She will start to think, “I wonder where mom is.” That quickly turns into, “What if something bad happened to mom and I wasn’t there?” Then, “What if mom is hurt RIGHT NOW?” “Oh my GOSH, Mom might be dying on the side of the road right now and I’m not there and no one is there to help her!!!” Thus, she calls me, in a panic, asking if I’m ok.

Now, there are people that would like to say “that’s just anxiety.” But I will tell you this, it doesn’t matter who I talk to on what side of this crazy spectrum we are on right now, I hear everyone doing the same thing! One legislation turns into something big that’s 10 steps removed from the original thought. One relative not agreeing turns into we are all going to die. I hear it over and over and over. I see fights stemming from this extreme anxiety and fear blowing up and everyone on the edge.

Why do we catastrophize?

There can be a few different reasons why we catastrophize, but it stems from fear, low self esteem, and trauma. Past trauma has taught us that the worse can happen and we cannot control it. Thus, with no control, we like to prepare for it. Too many past disappointments and pain have happened when the worst has come true. Better to expect it, prepare for it. Better to expect the worst and shield ourselves from more pain. Actually, better to prepare for worse than the worst so that way we NEVER are surprised or hurt again. Eyeore from Winnie the Pooh had it right all along!

Whats the harm?

Well geez, besides living life always expecting impending doom, or being stuck in a loop of anxiety and fear? Well, when we catastrophize we are building a life in our heads. A life that isn’t yet true, but could be… The number one rule when it comes to manifesting is what you focus on grows. If your constant focus is all that can go wrong, then that vibration brings more of that into your life. It’s scary to see a world where everyone is expecting the worst. From all our rights as citizens being taken away to us all dying because of a few stubborn people…these are scary conclusions. And while it sounds silly to say if you think it, so shall it be, think about what mindset and what mental place these catastrophizing thoughts put us in. We are in constant stress. Can a person in constant stress extend the proper empathy and kindness toward others? Can someone in constant fear and stress keep their bodies healthy? Can a person in constant fear and stress–in fight or flight or freeze mode–see solutions to problems? Can all of us living in the constant state of catastrophzing see anything but polarity? What solutions can be found in pure fear and polarity? Catastrophizing does not leave us many options but the very worst! What we focus on grows! Our catastrophizing is manifesting the very worst for ourselves, for others, for our plant.

How to escape?

Let’s look at this together.

  1. Therapy and professional help. These are hard times folks. Everyone is stressed and upset. Having someone to talk to can be so helpful. No really, it is.
  2. Write down the catastrophizing fears–separate them into realistic and unrealistic. Look at the realistic list, and figure out which ones are immediate and which are yeah maybe someday in the future it could happen? Of the evidence based realistic fears which of those are things you can do something about? Make a plan, what can you do? In the case of my daughter, if she realistically looked at historical facts, yes anyone can get into a car accident at any time, but out of all the times I have left home where is the evidence to support that this is a realistic immediate fear? What plan could she put in place to ease her mind? Check I am wearing my seatbelt before I leave? Track my phone when she’s feeling uneasy? What plans could she put into place to stop the mind spiral?
  3. Mindfulness. Get used to what your body feels like when you catastrophize. Feel into those feelings so you can recognize the next time you start to do it. Do your shoulders get tight? Lump in your throat, heart rate raise, feel lethargic? Use these cues to start paying attention to when the mind spiral starts so that you can stop it in its tracks.

Other ideas

Where do you want to see the world go? Try to start making it a practice to visualize not just the catastrophizing thoughts but try to imagine the opposite. What would the ideal look like? There is a PSYCH-K protocol that can help with manifesting the world you WANT to see. Reach out if something like that interests you and we can get an appointment booked. More info about PSYCH-K here.

If we can take the time to visualize all that can go wrong, taking the time to visualize all that can go right can start the process of balancing that vibration. Don’t worry if you can’t see it all right away. Don’t worry if it’s hard. Don’t worry if the fear based thoughts creep back in. Keep at it.

What we focus on grows. What can you focus on today that will grow?

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