Man has an innate ability to put 2 and 2 together and make it 22 and so it is with the build up of worst-case scenarios!
Imagine a situation. You wake up to a bright sunny day, birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and you are having an important presentation. You have slogged for weeks over it, remembering the contents, practicing your presentation so much so, you would have been able to rattle off the whole presentation even when woken up from a deep slumber BUT on THAT You get a sinking feeling in your stomach you are 100% sure you are going to make an ass of yourself and the angry company is going to kick you out of the doors.
What a big disaster, CATASTROPHE it is going to be? Thinking about it is making you faint Whoa!! Hold on, THINKING!! Righto – Thinking!! Imagining!! – This behavior of anticipating trouble and strife where none is present is called Catastrophising.
Catastrophising surprisingly is one of the most common cognitive distortions indulged by man sometime or the other in his lifetime. The subject ends up believing that the situation is 1000 times worse than it actually is.
Catastrophising is of two types
The smug pundits who dissect the mind exposing the hidden fears and phobias assert there are two types of catastrophes
1 :: Catastrophising of the present Catastrophizing of the present is where you turn a present not-so-good event into an apocalyptic judgment day scenario. The seriousness of the situation may be far less than you imagined but no, your mind wants to build an icing on your cake of problems and so you blow it into a calamity that will threaten the very existence of your life (as you know it).
2 :: Catastrophising of the future Catastrophizing of the future goes one better, not content with making a present content look worse, the catastrophizing of future will take the most gloomiest thought and build a shrine of trauma, worst case scenario effectively stunting you from performing to your full potential.
The sky is falling on my Head
Suppose you fall off from a bike, which almost everyone does once in his or her life. While the rest of the world will pick them self from the ground and ride off, you will be frozen imagining that you will never be able to ride a bike again. You will be convinced that riding a bike will result in you getting into an accident or even losing some or most of your body parts, the villainous futuristic catastrophizing builds up to a crescendo when you actually begin to believe that you will end up dying were you to lay a finger on a bike.
Catastrophising in small doses and infrequent intervals is normal but if you find your lifestyle is affected by fatalistic thinking, you need help pronto!
Stopping Yourself From Catastrophising
An unregulated, frequent catastrophizing can lead to panic attacks. It’s better to prevent or manage your catastrophizing before it paralyzes you into inaction.
The first step, take a deep breath, hold it and release slowly all the while focusing you mind on the inhalation and exhalation of the breath.
Once you have calmed down, analyze the situation as if you are thinking it is happening for another person (in case you are unable to be objective). Look for the chinks in the ironclad armor of misery for the silver lining.
Talk through the situation either in your head or with an understanding friend.