6th July – What is Catastrophizing?

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Catastrophizing is a common symptom of anxiety and often occurs when our anxiety becomes a problem. It is an irrational thought a lot of us have in believing that something is far worse than it actually is. Catastrophizing can generally can take two forms.

The first of these is making a catastrophe out of a situation. For instance, if you’re a salesperson and haven’t made a sale in awhile, you may believe you are a failure and you will lose your job. In reality, it may only be a temporary situation, and there are things that you can do to change this situation. Another example is believing that if you make one small mistake at your job, you may get fired. This kind of Catastrophizing takes a current situation and gives it a truly negative “spin.”

The second kind of Catastrophizing is closely linked to the first, but it is more mental and more future oriented.This kind of Catastrophizing occurs when we look to the future and anticipate all the things that are going to go wrong. We then create a reality around those thoughts (e.g. “It’s bound to all go wrong for me…”). Because we believe something will go wrong, we make it go wrong.

Below is a list of the top 10 signs of Catastophising. You’ll be surprised at how many of these we have experienced at some point.

1)     Catastrophizing takes you straight into Doom-and-Gloom mode.  Something happens and before you know it you are in full worst case scenario thinking.

2)     It doesn’t just feel very real, it feels like the only possible scenario.

3)     You go into full back-against-the-wall mode.  YOU feel frightened, defensive, and powerless.

4)     You recall your previous disappointments and/or failures.  You serve them all up to yourself as ‘proof’ of how hard life is for you.

5)     You feel very, very sorry for yourself.

6)     You remind yourself that nobody has ever really loved you, listened to you, or valued you.  You’ve given, while other people have just taken without appreciating you at all.

7)     You make dire predictions for your future.  The sun will never shine again; you will be friendless, loveless, and joyless for the next 1,000 years, and your life will be a living hell.

8)     You forget about the good things that you have in your life.  Everything looks black.

9)     Physically, you feel sluggish, and heavy.  Your body is just another weight to drag around.

10) You slip into the victim mind-set.  Your mantra could be: “It’s different for me.  It’s harder for me.” 

Next Post will be about what we can do about it.

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