In my opinion, people who can straighten their tangled thoughts are one of the most talented and mature people. I say this knowing very well that the general mass here is overthinker, and they might accept it or not, but they do get trapped in catastrophic thinking frequently. We worry about the littlest things and think of the worst, even though there is nothing severe. Of course, we realize it later, but we shouldn’t let it reach a state where we have to think about it again. Don’t you agree? Catastrophic thinking is the tendency to imagine the worst things possible in even little situations. Catastrophic thinking is interwoven with overthinking that leads to stress and anxiety. Some problems don’t require the volume of stress we put, but we do it anyway.
Catastrophic thinking is a result of over-thinking; it is the part of a person’s character that has been with him/her for a long time, and you can’t just flip it off. It will require you to put in efforts and strong will and determination to overcome this tendency. But it is achievable, and you should achieve it for a better mind and life.
Is Catastrophic thinking normal?
Having pessimist thinking and always stressing out on the worst is never a good option. Not only does it ruin your day and mood, but it also has adverse effects on your brain, body, and the most important thing- it slowly changes the way you think. It starts turning you into a dark person who is incapable of thinking and feeling good. You become harmful not only for yourself but also for the person around you. Your negative thinking can again suck them in the hole you made. You don’t want that for the people you love, do you? But it should also be noted that you are not the only one suffering from it.
Thinking about your choices and decisions is necessary. It helps you make the right choices and helps you lead the best life. However, it is not normal when you overly stress out about the littlest things in life. They are not that necessary and are not worth the time you put in for overthinking (and even that is negative!). In catastrophic thinking, you waste time and resources about the problems that don’t exist. You re-question the decisions you make and think of scenarios that will never exist. Now you tell me, is catastrophic thinking normal and a good thing to practice?
How to know for sure that you are prone to catastrophic thinking and overthink every little situation?
Catastrophic thinking and overthinking do have a difference, but it is important to note that catastrophic thinking is a direct progression of excessive overthinking. When you are an overthinker, you stall your decisions and make several different scenarios in your mind. You start doubting yourself and question every decision you make and end up making every decision in life a hundred times more complicated than it used to be. You cannot let the mistakes of your past go. Let alone the mistakes, you can’t ever let anything go that may be minutely unusual to you.
You are never sure of anything in your life that is about to come or even the things that you have done in the past. You use up so much time in making little decisions of your life that nobody gives a damn about! And you shouldn’t either. Do you think a lot every day before choosing an outfit first thing in the morning? If yes, then welcome to the tribe of overthinkers!
Catastrophic thinking is the extended arm and one of the consequences of overthinking. In catastrophic thinking, you think of unlikely extreme and the worst situations that can possibly happen as a consequence of overthinking. Sleeping is tricky as you can’t bear to silent your mind and those thoughts in the silence of the dark. Any situation that does not happen according to your convenience becomes a threat to your peace. Catastrophic thinking can be understood by elementary examples.
- Suppose you live in another city and call your parents or your significant other, and they don’t pick up after a try or two. You immediately start spiraling into the hole of your self-made despair and darkness. You think of all the bad things that may have happened. Maybe they got sick, someone fell from the stairs, they had an accident, the partner is cheating, and the list goes on and on. You keep making up these things in your head until very late when you realize that there was nothing to stress. The right thing to do here would be to think logically and come to a valid conclusion.
- Another example would be, suppose you have a small stomach ache. Instead of thinking logically first or consulting a doctor, you start diagnosing yourself and believe that you have a deadly and terminal disease. You look all over the internet and then come up with 100 diseases you have never heard of. The right thing to do was think for something conclusive and logical.
Maybe your parents or your partner were busy doing something. When you had a stomach ache, maybe there was something wrong with the food you ate or just a minor gastric problem. Instead of spiraling down, you should have thought logically first. However, this is not easy when you are a habitual catastrophic thinker. It’s like telling a drug addict to leave drugs right at the instant! But it needs to be tackled and soon!
How to tackle catastrophic thinking and negative thought?
Catastrophic thinking is also magnification of the problems that don’t really exist. There are already several problems, and we don’t need more when we already have so many issues on our plate. It can be dealt with the help of professionals, or you can take control and fix it.
- Stop being in denial:
Life doesn’t guarantee that we will always experience vanilla and chocolates. There are bound to be some challenges and also unfortunate news. Understand that bad things will happen! Stop being in denial about this. Accept it and embrace it. Just because some days are bad, don’t make your thinking all about those things. Where there is dark, there is light as well.
- Give a deep thought about why you are thinking catastrophically:
Think deeply about the things you stress about, the things that make you the most anxious, and find its root cause. This can be done by sitting in peace and when you are most calm. Don’t try to do it when your brain is frenzy; it wouldn’t help you. Once you catch the eye of the spiral, managing it can get better.
- Being verbal and taking actions:
Whenever you are harboring and going deep in the catastrophic thinking or are just beginning, take control and say aloud- STOP. Say aloud, “isn’t real and will never happen, I am not in a soap opera.” If this doesn’t help, try jumping or running to take your mind away from catastrophic thinking.
Tip: I’ll be honest and tell you that I was a catastrophic thinker. It was so bad that I’d create devastating scenarios without even doing anything. I don’t exactly remember, but I had read it somewhere that you should hurt yourself whenever you think about negative things or harboring negative thoughts. It can be done by maybe slapping the wrist or pinching it, but you have to do it hard. This way, slowly, you’ll start associating the negative thoughts and catastrophic thinking with pain, and you won’t do it anymore. I don’t even know if it is true, but it did help me. Even now, sometimes, I go into the frenzy of my negative thoughts, but it has improved so much, I can’t even begin to tell! Try it; it helped me, maybe it can help you.
- Create your alternate ending:
Even though sometimes you are not in control of the beginning of your catastrophic thinking, but how it moves forward is entirely up to you. You started thinking something negative, OK, now start making another story. I am sure everyone has a knack for thinking of a storyline good enough for making a movie, right! Take a U-turn and continue, but now make it according to your likes and control the ending. This way, you’ll not get stressed and anxious by stopping immediately and will also take control of your catastrophic thinking. Do you remember how you try to alter your bad dreams after waking up or try to continue a good dream? That’s precisely what you need to do, but this time while you are awake.
Fear and anxiousness are normal. It shows that you care about things and fear losing them, but when you constantly start catastrophic thinking and start thinking negatively in every situation, it hinders you. It hinders your work performance and poses a threat to your sanity. Fear and overthinking are the driving forces of catastrophic thinking and can be dealt very well if you are cautious. If you are at the receiving end, don’t be mad, don’t lash out at the person, and try to be as patient as possible. It is not as simple as switching off the flip. Be supportive and be there for the person. Always remember the message by Genereux Philip.
Overthinking is a parasite. It’s viral. It’s deadly, even. Letting yourself fall victim to overthinking doesn’t just kill your happiness, it destroys who you are. The mind is a beautiful and complex thing, and the only person who can hurt it is you yourself.
Are you prone to catastrophic thinking too?
Also read: 3 second rule of life!