Dealing with Catastrophic Thinking

Us humans are great at worrying and churning things over and over (AND OVER!) in our minds. It’s a terrible, unhelpful habit that we have developed. And I know sometimes you may think that worrying helps you prepare for the worst, but this is not true…what DOES help, is problem solving.

So, want to know what to do about over thinking? Mel Selig suggests telling yourself the following statements:

1 – “It’s not happening now.” Yes, it’s certainly possible that a catastrophe could occur, but it’s not happening now. This phrase may help you see that, at least at this moment, you are safe.
2 – “Whatever happens, I can cope.” This statement reminds you of your own inner resources and gives you the determination to meet the challenges of life. (The concept comes from the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tradition.)
3 – “I am causing my own suffering. Could I stop?” The first part of this statement has its origins in Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths. The question, “Could I stop?” comes from motivational studies suggesting that asking yourself a question tends to be more motivating than simply saying, “I will stop,” or the judgmental, “Stop causing your own suffering!”—which only creates more suffering.

Asking, “Could I stop?” helps you see that you have a choice. Of course, if there truly is a catastrophe headed your way—divorce, a death in the family, or natural disaster—the best thing to ask yourself is, “How could I best prepare for this event?” Planning your action steps relieves your anxiety (problem solving).

If your catastrophic thoughts are impairing your ability to sleep, concentrate, work or socialise, you may need a little more support. Psychologists are extremely familiar with the ol’ “what if” thinking (yes, we also have these thoughts!) and can provide you with more assistance and support.  Give us a call and let us give you a helping hand. 


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