Are you the victim of a catastrophic thought? You may have this terrible habit, but you don’t realize what it is. When faced with a situation, do you always come to the worst possible conclusion?
The underlying factor behind most of these thoughts is a generalized anxiety condition. You anxiety levels they reach unprecedented proportions when things are out of your comfort level. Remember, when you are dealing with anxiety, it can make you think and feel untrue things.
Have you ever had a panic attack and thought for sure that you had a heart attack? Anxiety can cause the body to go into fight or flight mode, and much of your catastrophic thinking could stem from this underlying condition.
You are catastrophizing, which is experiencing cognitive distortion. This misrepresentation occurs when you have little information and your mind automatically jumps to the worst explanation. While it can be a bit annoying not having all the data you need, it is not always a catastrophic event.
It all comes down to negative thinking. If you feed this monster, it will lose control of your life. The smallest things can cause significant fear. Let’s examine a couple of scenarios to help you see how this distorted thinking can control your life.
Here are three hypothetical situations that illustrate catastrophic thinking
Look at these three scenarios to get a better idea of what the catastrophe looks like.
The threat of an accident
Linda’s son comes home late from work. He always walks through the door at 5:30 pm. She receives a news alert telling her that there is an accident on I-95. Knowing that your child uses this highway, his mind automatically thinks the worst.
She calls him over and over, but receives a voicemail. By the time her son calls her back, she has already started calling the police department and hospitals to see if her son has been in an accident.
* Linda caused herself great pain and torment because her mind automatically assumed it was her son in this incident. Fortunately, her son was fine, but it took him all night to calm down.
Waiting for her pink slip
Jeffry received an email from his boss to be in his office at 8am for a meeting. Since his boss rarely calls meetings like this, Jeffry immediately starts to panic. He knows he’s going to be fired.
He couldn’t sleep all night and wakes up nauseated and anxious. He arrives at work and can barely regain his composure to get to his boss’s office. Once inside, you are congratulated on your help on a project and the boss gives you a healthy bonus check.
* Jeffry did nothing wrong. Just because the meeting was out of the ordinary didn’t mean he was in trouble. Actually, he was being rewarded.
Avoid tax problems
Using her knowledgeable mail delivery service, Bonnie sees that she has a letter from the IRS. His heart falls to the ground and he begins to panic. You know you are being audited and you are going to jail.
As a small business owner, you repeat all the deductions you made in your mind. He runs to the door when the postman passes his house. The letter was just a formality and informed him of a refund owed $ 12.00.
* Bonnie was receiving a refund, not a jail sentence. If he had waited until the letter arrived, he would never have had all these false scenarios running through his mind.
Do you see how the smallest of things can make someone jump to these outlandish conclusions? It’s all due to catastrophic thinking caused by cognitive distortion. So how do you know if you have this condition?
12 signs you struggle with catastrophic thinking
So you have read the accounts of others who have struggled with this distorted version of thinking. Now is the time to see if you have similar traits to these people. These are the behaviors most commonly observed in someone who participates in the unhealthy practice of catastrophic thinking.
1. News and social media stress you out
While you would love to watch the news or interact with friends on social media, this stresses you out. You cannot handle all the negativity as it increases your anxiety. TO Taiwanese psychological study confirms that stress and catastrophic thinking often go hand in hand.
2. You are trapped in the past
You’ve had something traumatic that happened to you and you can’t get over it. No matter how hard you try, your past is ruining your future. You play these events in your mind as a loop.
When your children or your spouse ask you to go anywhere, the answer is always no. You are so worried about what might happen to them or that you prefer to stay at home. If you don’t look, behaviors like these can cause you to become agoraphobic.
According to the National Institute of Health, agoraphobia is characterized by extreme anxiety that being in a public place will not allow you to escape. People often lock themselves in their homes to try to protect themselves from impending death.
4. Your routine should be set in stone
Your routine should be the same every day. If there is a relief from his schedule, he becomes very anxious. When everything is going as it should, it can work with ease.
5. You exaggerate
When you retell a story, you always add a little flair to it. It is not that you are trying to lie to others; is that your mind automatically reproduces your thoughts and feelings on the matter, which can be a bit twisted.
6. Adventure is not for you because you prefer certainty
Throwing caution to the wind and being adventurous is not your thing. You’re so nervous when things don’t go according to your schedule that you can’t enjoy yourself. You like certainty, even when it comes to vacations.
Consequently, you may find yourself going to the same vacation spot, staying in the same cabin, and eating at the same restaurants. Certainty brings you comfort in life, and anything out of the ordinary makes your anxiety skyrocket.
7. You think too much of everything
You tend to think too muchAnd this learned behavior could cost you friendships and even jobs. The key to this problem is that you have had past failures that you are afraid to repeat. So, you are too cautious and analyze everything.
8. You are always asking “what if questions.”
When you consider something, you play 20 questions in your mind. When your spouse wants to put the house up for sale, you have many “what if” questions that paralyze you with fear?
What if the house sells too fast and you have nowhere to go? What if the house has problems that are found on inspection that you are not aware of? Sometimes you have to trust your instincts and jump.
9. Repeat conversations
A conversation can drive you crazy as you will try to remember and repeat parts of it. You can even download a phone recording app to replay conversations and put your mind at ease. You analyze each word trying to see if someone was trying to tell you something or if you missed some things.
10. You constantly worry
You lie in bed at night and worry about everything. Not only are you contemplating your morning, but you are worried about bills, relationships, and your health. In the old days, they called people who were always worried “Worry about warts.”
You are so afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone that your fears paralyze you.
11. You only see things your way
A big problem with your catastrophic thinking is that you can’t see anyone else’s point of view. If your mind is jumping to conclusions and someone tries to convince you to come back to reality, you won’t be able to see things from their perspective. You are usually very sure of your beliefs and do not like anyone else trying to tell you something differently.
12. Your moods fluctuate
Part of disorganized thoughts are fluctuations in mood. It is natural for you to become a nervous wreck when you think that a loved one has been in an accident or some other dangerous situation. Your anxiety is ruining your life and it can make you feel all kinds of emotions.
When your anxiety is at its highest, you can yell and yell at others. When things are normal every day, you might be the kindest person in the world. However, when you feel pressured and like things are out of control, then you can be a force to be reckoned with. According to the National Institute of Health, anxiety disorders often make people feel restless, agitated, or nervous, making everyone around you uncomfortable.
Ways to combat catastrophic thinking
Now that you have identified a problem with your thought processes, here are some ways you can combat it.
- Get an appointment with a counselor and try cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Recognize when these disorganized thoughts enter your mind and talk to yourself to get back to reality.
- Enlist the help of family and friends to help you distinguish between fact and anxiety.
- Gradually step out of your comfort zone and start living again.
- Learn meditation techniques to calm your body-mind-spirit when you feel chaos in your mind.
We are all guilty of a catastrophic thought at some point. It is human nature to worry a little. The problem occurs when your worries and fears take over your life. It would be helpful if you learned to silence the chaos that is trying to take over your mind so that you can have some peace.
Learning something practical coping techniques for treating the parts of this disorder that are based on anxiety. Also, if you have things that happened to you as a child or traumas from the past, you need to address them. Your story could be holding you back from a bright future, and it’s time to manage the destructive thought processes that are holding you back.