I wrote recently about the perils of doom scrolling and I wanted to also touch on the concept of Catastrophizing. Basically, this is when you fixates on the worst possible outcome and assume it’s likely, even when it isn’t. It’s also called “magnifying” because a person perceives a situation to be seem much worse than it really is.

The causes of it are unclear, but I think it is likely borne of a poor mind set and likely depression or anxiety. We all feel nervous or anxious sometimes. But, anxiety disorders cause intense anxiety that restrict with normal life. Sufferers experience heightened fear and obsession with danger or threats. For example, you are diagnosed with depression and because a family member committed suicide you convince yourself that you will also killer yourself.

The key to overcoming catastrophic thinking is to recognise what you are doing and use strategies to manage and correct the irrational thoughts. Some ideas you can try include:

  • Life is often full of challenges and so you may have good and bad days. But, one bad day does not mean all days will be bad.
  • Catastrophizing often follows a pattern. A person will start with a thought about a problem or issue. They will then brood on it and expand the scope and scale of the problem to become far more than it is. Recognise the irrational thoughts and avoiding the spiral.
  • Know when to stop. When you see the pattern – stop. Perhaps to cease those repetitive, catastrophic thoughts, you may have to say “Stop!” out loud. This will break the flow of thoughts.
  • Instead of thinking about a negative outcome, try to focus on a positive one. Or at least a less negative one.
  • Try positive affirmations. You have to believe that there can be a positive outcome to defeat the tendency to fear the worst. So try repeating a positive affirmation on a daily basis. Such as “Wherever I am, I create a safe and secure space for myself”.
  • Look after yourself. Catastrophic thoughts are more likely to occur when you are tired and stressed. Getting enough sleep and perhaps try exercise, meditation, or mindfulness.

Mindfulness can be particularly useful with this as it involves being aware, present and grounded in the now rather than focusing on the past or the future. It has also been shown to help with a wide range of other conditions.

Catastrophizing can affect anyone during times of stress. It does not signal a mental health condition. But as with many habits and traits, if it interferes with daily life and functioning, it may be a sign of an underlying cause such as depression or anxiety. But as Lynda Resnick (American businesswoman) said, “When you wake up each morning, you can choose to be happy or choose to be sad. Unless some terrible catastrophe has occurred the night before, it is pretty much up to you. Tomorrow morning, when the sun shines through your window, choose to make it a happy day”.

If you think hypnotherapy can help with stress, anxiety or negative thoughts then contact me.

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