Does your thinking mind sometimes take you to worst case scenarios? Why does it focus on tragedy, without evidence that tragedy is occurring? Does three days of headaches mean you have a brain tumor? Does your daughter not answering her phone or text messages signify she’s been in a car accident? Does an email that your boss wants to speak with you mean that you’re getting fired? Or does your wife working late on a company project mean that she’s having an affair?
Why does your mind create imaginary catastrophes?
I believe it “plays out” tragedy as a weird way of preparing you for worst case scenario. Since you’ve already experienced the situation with a “horrific ending” and lived it out in your mind, anything besides that horrifically-imagined ending is doable. You see, 99% of the time worst case scenario doesn’t happen, it just felt like it did in your thinking and very imaginative mind.
Here’s a few ideas on managing catastrophic thinking:
1. Brainstorm “all case scenarios.”
Look for evidence that your thoughts are true. You are probably not getting fired, as you’ve been productive at work and there isn’t any “firing” evidence. Other possibilities: You might be getting a raise; he values your experience and wants some of your insight; you might be given additional responsibility; or he just wants to check in and see how you’re doing. Be real and look for other possibilities.
2. Quit watching and believing the news.
I cannot stress this enough. If you’re watching the news and see car accidents and murders, it’s easier for your mind to imagine a catastrophe when something happens. Believe your reality…and take in positive information. There is a lot of positive happening in the world…I promise.
3. Observe and notice your catastrophic thoughts (actually all thoughts).
Observe your thoughts, try to not get stuck believing their truth. The biggest truth about your thoughts are that they are your thoughts.
4. Connect to the reality of this current moment.
Get curious…Is your catastrophic thinking a way to deflect from some other pain? Ask yourself, “What am I really upset about? Why am I creating tragic stories? Why is my mind catastrophically sabotaging me?”
5. Journal your daily gratitude.
Express gratitude for the gifts in your life and for the gift of your life. When you focus on the things you’re grateful for, your negative catastrophic thinking will show up less and less.
What a relief — That accident where your child died didn’t occur. She just didn’t notice your text message because her new boyfriend is cute… she was more focused on him. You don’t have a brain tumor; your headaches are a sign that you need reading glasses. Your wife is not betraying you; she really is working on a project and hopes for a promotion.
When you start to gain awareness of the tricks your mind will play on you, you’ll find that it’s your thinking that is catastrophic…not necessarily the situation.
So, I’ll leave you with this: Don’t believe everything you think.