Catastrophising – is it helpful?


It is part of human nature to protect ourselves. We have adrenalin which triggers the fight or flight mode in our bodies, so when we feel that we are in danger, we can make a quick reaction to get back to safety. This is a normal reaction, but in some cases, we find that we encounter this in situations that other people would not find a problem, otherwise known as a panic attack. This can often come from catastrophising scenarios in our head.

My problem is that I catastrophise (I don’t know if I am spelling this correctly, my computer says I’m not, but hey…). Before any social event, or simply going to work, my mind thinks up scenarios that may or may not happen, which lead me to feel very anxious about them. In some cases, I feel terrible enough that I will simply cancel and I won’t go. Instantly, my panic eases and I don’t feel anxious anymore.

They’re going to think I look terrible and they’re going to comment. They’ll make me feel bad. They’ll tell everyone how terrible I look. They’re going to ask me how I am and they’ll know I am lying if I say fine, but will laugh if I tell them what is actually going through my mind. They’re going to laugh behind my back when I leave about how awful I look.

These are some examples of my catastrophic thoughts (now this word is spelt correctly, hmm…). My therapist asked me; has this ever happened before? Has anyone ever commented negatively on your appearance? Do you have a reason to believe, or have evidence, that they will think any of these thoughts? Are these thoughts helping you, or are you catastrophising?

So this morning, my mind has been racing with these thoughts. I am seeing two people today; my grandma and my close friend. I am panicking that these are the thoughts they will be having or that they’ll even say something awful to me. Will this really happen? Probably not, why would my grandma say anything unkind? Why would a close friend say anything to upset me? Logically, all will be fine and I should go and enjoy myself. But my mind is telling me no, and my body feels shaky and irritable.

Today, I am going to face my fears and try to ignore the catastrophic thoughts that I am having. I’ll go and enjoy my dinner with my grandma and enjoy the company of my friend. I think the answer to the title here is no, catastrophising is certainly not helpful. It may help us to prepare ourselves for worst case scenarios, and it may help prevent us from feeling low and disappointed if we expect the worst, but really it just makes us unhappy.

I apologise that this post, and yesterday’s post, were not necessarily positive ones. But sometimes it helps to see the truth that we can’t all be positive all of the time. I am still working on my personal goals (see the post about this here) – I have written a to-do list for every day this week. I will write about that later on.

To everyone reading, I hope you have a lovely day, whatever you are doing.

PS the featured image is of a meal that me and my partner enjoyed in Palma Nova last year. It was a nice memory that made me feel happy.


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