Last week I lost my mobile on a girls night out and despite ‘find my iPhone’ and calls and visits to everywhere I’d been, there was no sign of it. Having spoken to my mobile server and insurance company, my mind then went straight into fast forward to imagine the worst…..
Whoever found my phone would post all my pictures on social media, then they’d find my passwords and bank details and wipe out my savings account etc, etc! The wave of negative worrying was carrying me forward to one catastrophe after another. Logically I should have realised that this couldn’t happen but once you’ve gone down the negative thinking route it can be hard to change direction.
Catastrophising is having an irrational belief that something is worse than it actually is and there are two main types;
- The first is taking a current situation and putting a negative ‘spin’ on it. For example making a mistake at work and believing you’ll get fired as a result
- The second type is looking into the future and anticipating all the things that could go wrong and then believing them as your reality. For example, not applying for a job because “I’m rubbish at interviews, I won’t know what to say and they won’t be interested in me”.
If you get hooked into this type of thinking , you may think it’s preventing you from being hurt or avoiding failure but actually it’s limiting your opportunities in life, work and relationships instead.
To put a stop to this disempowering behaviour try these steps:
- Become aware of when you are doing it. Record the situation and how you felt at the time. Over time you will see a pattern developing of when you are drawn into catastrophising.
- When you are aware of thinking that way, just notice the thought, focus on your breathing and let the thought go.
- Challenge your thinking either by looking for evidence that contradicts it in your past or by talking it through with a logical friend you trust
When you then return to reality you will find it easier to solve the problem or take the first step towards the opportunity.
Three days after I lost my phone a taxi driver knocked at my door and returned it to me, he’d found it in his cab. Not only had I wasted lots of time worrying but the positive outcome that an honest person might return it, hadn’t occurred to me.
This quote is a great reminder:
“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”
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