• Tina

It cannot get any worse.. or can it ??

Today I would like to chat about the thinking style Catastrophising ... 'cognitive distortion.' A person who catastrophises usually sees an unfavorable outcome to an event and then decides that if this outcome does happen, the results will be a disaster. In effect if they do something the worse will happen. I have had a lot of experience of this thinking style as I am one of thousands of people to whom this comes as a natural way of thinking until you stop and challenge it. In fact I had one such thought today ... One of the lovely companies I do some work for wanted me to increase my liability cover (I thought it was quite high already) now I'm a bit tired, had a couple of difficult days but no excuse my brain went straight to .. seriously !!! (unhappy face) I won't be able to afford this...it will cost £100's I will have to stop working for them.

As I sat there with these thoughts going through my head I thought - may be a bit of an over reaction Tina - perhaps some fact finding might be helpful first !

We all do it ... I do it ... HH does it but not very often (HH proof reads this and added this bit in !!!).. rarely does anyone escape it sometimes in their life

But in truth EVEN if the insurance had been expensive and I had to say 'Im really sorry I can't work for you ... I would have been sad BUT it would not be the end of the world. I would have adapted and found another way to work as a counsellor.

The issue here is I decided an outcome WOULD happen I couldn't afford it (and it would be a disaster) I could not work for an organisation I really love being part of.

Catastrophising in part comes from the way we have learnt to think, the way we were shaped as babies. It can also be shaped by our current situation e.g. if we are depressed it is more likely we will look at situations with a negative view 'My friend did not text me because they hate me and bored by me being like this all the time - I HAVE NO FRIENDS - PEOPLE HATE ME ' thereby reinforcing the depressed state you are in.

The same happens with anxiety, we worry about what will happen, feel we can't cope and it will be disastrous and this increases our feelings of anxiety e.g. I have had this headache on and off for two weeks - I HAVE A BRAIN TUMOUR - I AM GOING TO DIE !!!

We can literally Catastrophise over anything ... My wages are down, the economy is going bad, I am going to lose my home.

There are solutions to this cognitive distortion - we just have to work hard to put them in place..

The first step is to accept that we all go through difficult experiences. We all have good days and bad days happen to everyone, and, just because one day is bad, it doesn’t mean the next will be.

Looking at it in this light can help us to realise sometimes our mischievous thoughts can be irrational - they may not be true !!! HORROR of HORRORS.

Telling yourself to stop – out loud, if need be – can be a simple but surprisingly effective way to interrupt the negative thought patterns. I did this today - out loud (I hope the people in the office opposite did not hear - they have just moved in and will think we are bonkers!!)


We can then make a concerted effort to focus on another, more positive outcome. Try asking yourself three questions: is your thought realistic? How likely is it that it’s true? And can you find an example where a similar situation worked out just fine? Lets use my little 'moment' as an example. Tina STOP - find out exactly what is needed, be rational they would not be asking for this cover if it was prohibitive for people as no-one would work for them, get some other quotes - even better Tina find out which companies other counsellors are using. When you have the facts then you can decide what to do.


If it happens to you often then try keeping a mood diary that might help make you more aware of when you’re likely to lapse into catastrophic thinking, and making an effort to practise good self-care if you’re feeling vulnerable, might help restore some emotional balance. Like today I knew I was tired and had a few things on my mind - on another day I may have reacted differently. I believe we should all have good self awareness and this, in part, comes from having the ability to understand ourselves better.

So to conclude for today - I am sure you would like to know the outcome - well I rang up - got the information I needed from the company - they kindly gave me details of some other companies who would provide insurance - I contacted them and they will do the cover I need ... AT A CHEAPER COST THAN MY CURRENT INSURANCE ... The above picture describes me today !!

I know my tendency to catastrophise can run deep; I know I’m always going to be prone to thinking the worst in any given situation, but I believe it’s well worth investing the mental effort to challenge my catastrophic thinking and I hope you do too. After all, life is so much easier when your glass is half full.

Have a great week ... I will be taking a break myself next week be back the week after next

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