Catastrophizing

In learning to capture my thoughts and make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5), I remembered a time when I was studying the work of Brene Brown and she brought up the idea of Catastrophizing.

Catastrophizing is when you take a joyful situation and mentally turn it into a disaster, causing high anxiety and stress.

Here’s an example:

A family was getting ready to go on vacation and everyone was so excited for this trip!

The two little girls had packed their suitcases full of their favorite stuffed animals and coloring books. The mom and dad were just as excited because it had been a long few months with work and just plain busyness.

They had decided not to fly so that they could stop and sight see along the way, making as many memories as they could.

A couple of hours into the drive, the wife looks around the car and smiles bigger than she had smiled in a quite some time.

Her husband was singing along with the kids in all his funny voices to Baby Shark.

The girls’ arms were stretched across the back seat so they could hold hands. The sun was shining and everyone’s hair was blowing in the wind.

It was perfect!

Now then, if you are a castrophizer, you are holding your breath, waiting to hear the next part of the story.

You just know something bad is going to happen, so in your mind you have created the disaster story – the sun gets in the dad’s eyes, he crossing the highway line at the same time a semi comes by and everyone dies but the mom.

Horrible, right?!

I know, but how often do we do that?

How often do we have that moment when we realize everything is going really well and so we hit the panic button because we are just sure something terrible is going to follow?

Psychologist, Erik Erikson said that for some people, joy is not a pleasure, but instead it is anticipatory pain. Some people don’t allow themselves to fully enjoy life because they are always waiting for the bottom to fall out.

If you can identify with this BLOG, I want you to know that you can help relieve this anxiety.

The first step that was so helpful for me was to recognize that I catastrophize.

It’s weird to me that I do this in the first place because I am a positive person by nature. But boy howdy, I can catastrophize with the best of them!

Once you recognize you are doing it, stop and take a deep breath in…hold it…and let it out. You may need to do this twice to really capture your attention and calm yourself down.

Now that you have your attention, you can take the thoughts captive. This is where you give them to God in exchange for a grateful thought to dwell on.

This little process has been so helpful to reduce my anxiety.

What I have come to understand is that just because I learned this technique doesn’t mean I am not going to have any more negative thoughts.

It means that I now have a choice when I recognize the negative energy that is surrounding me. I can capture the thoughts and hand them over to God in exchange for a grateful one or I can choose to wallow in the negativity.

If you would like to talk more about this, please reach out to me.

<>< KC

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