Is a big word meaning making things big when they don’t need to be. In other words, if your boss had something to say to you about a situation you need to change or a deadline you haven’t met or something else, and you feel sick to your stomach and stay awake half the night, worrying that you’re going to lose your job because of it, you’re catastrophizing. You’re predicting a catastrophe when there isn’t one. You might not like that you’ve disappointed your boss but it’s unlikely you’re going to lose your job over it unless you’ve messed up in a lot of other ways as well.
If you have a fight with your partner and you predict it’s the end of the relationship, you’re, yes, catastrophizing.
If your child gets a bad report card grade and you punish that child because you fear that child will never get into college, you’re….
Yes, you get the idea. It’s kind of like what Jeff Foxworthy does with his, “You might be a redneck if…” scenarios.
It goes like this:
You’re catastrophizing if:
1. You didn’t get a pay raise so you see yourself as never being able to retire.
2. Your kid told you a lie and now you know he’s a psychopath.
3. Your wife didn’t call and she hasn’t shown up from work yet and you know she’s either having an affair or was in a car accident.
4. You have a headache and you know it’s a brain tumor.
5. You didn’t get invited to someone’s wedding, party, graduation, and you’re sure no one likes you.
6. Your boyfriend/girlfriend says they can’t get together this weekend and you know she’s planning to break up with you.
And so on down a list as long as you can think to write.
Whenever you think of something negative, think of the lesser things it could be. Your wife isn’t having an affair nor did she get in a car accident. She’s shopping and didn’t call you because she knew you’d get mad if she told you she was shopping for more things she/you/the kids/the house doesn’t need. It takes three positive thoughts to counteract a negative one so think of three outcomes that are better than the catastrophe you’ve imagined. If you do this often enough you can train your brain to stop going to worst case scenarios and wouldn’t that be great