Worst Case Scenario Thinking - Stop Catastrophising
Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ilbey Ucar
Last updated date : January 02, 2023
- 1. What Is Catastrophising?
- 1. What is Catastrophising?
- 2. Who Created the Term “Catastrophise”?
- 3. Some Examples of Catastrophising
- 4. What Is Catastrophic Thinking a Sign Of?
- 5. Catastrophising Amongst Children and Teens
- 6. What Is Pain Catastrophising?
- 7. What Are Thinking Traps?
- 8. Common Thinking Traps That Stop You From Achieving Your Goals
- 9. Decatastrophising and Cognitive Restructuring
- 10. Examples of Decatastrophising
- 11. Different Treatments for Catastrophising
- 12. Six Tips to Cope With Catastrophising
- 13. Conclusion
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Has your imagination ever pulled you through a repeat cycle of worst-case scenarios? Often this involves presuming that you are in a worse situation than you are in. If the answer is yes, you may be suffering from ‘catastrophisingWorse case scenario thinking, difficulties are exagerated, dark and hopeless thoughts.’ This thought process serves to magnify thoughts and situations. It may result in the reality being blown out of proportion. In doing so, you support the negative and this may become the normal way of thinking in the future. This mental schema causes people to jump to the worst-case scenario thinking. This is usually based on very little unbiased information.
Catastrophising may lead to self-pity and an irrational belief about the situation. It may result in a feeling of hopelessness about future situations and prospects. Thus, it may define the presence or absence of other possibilities and prevent you from reaching your goals in life. As you continue to go against this worst-case scenario thinking, it will slowly decrease over time. Thereby, these thoughts will be replaced by more rational and balanced thinking. This article will talk about thinking trapsCertain types or patterns of thought that stop us from seeing things as they are. and catastrophising. It will also discuss their adverse effects, and how to improve catastrophic thinking.
What Is Catastrophising?
Who Created the Term “Catastrophise”?
Some Examples of Catastrophising
- A break-up is thought to mean that a person is unlovable.
- After breaking their diet, a person thinks that they are a failure at dieting.
- A child watches a horror movie and thinks that it will all happen in reality.
- After getting food poisoning from eating out, a person thinks that food from all restaurants will make them sick.
- If a student fails a test, they believe they will be kicked out of school and disowned by their parents for it.
- A person gets a pimple and thinks everyone will think they are ugly.
What Is Catastrophic Thinking a Sign Of?
Catastrophising Amongst Children and Teens
What Is Pain Catastrophising?
More specifically, people with chronic pain have a lower quality of life if they think about their pain as extreme. This may lead to intense feelings of hopelessness, or even depression.
What Are Thinking Traps?
It is very easy to fall into negative thinking patterns because it’s a part of how we as humans are wired. The human brain reacts more strongly to negative events than to positive ones. For example, you may be more likely to remember insults rather than praises. During tough times, negative thoughts are more likely to get out of control. Understanding our thoughts is the most potent thing we can do to take responsibility for our lives.
In cognitive-behavioural therapy, all thinking traps have something in common. Thus, all thinking traps do not meet the criteria for appropriate thinking. When something sudden happens, we tend to slip into negative thinking patterns. Common thinking traps consist of catastrophising and mind reading. They also include over-generalisation, personalisation, and many others.
Common Thinking Traps That Stop You From Achieving Your Goals
- Mind Reading
We think that we can read the mind of others and that we know what they are thinking. We assume that they are thinking the lowest of us. This often leads to a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Thus, we act as if the other person hates us making them pull away. Examples of Mind Reading: ‘He didn’t say hello. He must hate me.’
Labelling occurs when you assign a negative label to either yourself or someone else. You fail to recognise that everyone makes mistakes. Examples of Labeling: ‘I’m a complete failure.’
- Personalisation Thinking that one’s own or others actions and thoughts are personally related.
This is when you assume responsibility for something. You think that everything others do or say is a personal reaction to something you’ve said or done. The truth may be that it may have nothing to do with you. Example of personalisation: ‘My partner is upset with me. I must have done something wrong.’
This is when something difficult happens and you assume it is going to happen over and over again. This pattern tends to restrict your life. Example of Over-Generalisation: ‘Why does this always happen to me?’
- Emotional Reasoning
This is a common thinking trap that we often fall into. We take our feelings as evidence for the truth. When you use emotional reasoning, you think what you’re feeling in that moment is true, despite the evidence. Thus, this can be harmful as it creates an endless loop of pain negative thoughts. Example of Emotional Reasoning: ‘I feel stupid, thus, I am stupid.’
Decatastrophising and Cognitive Restructuring
If catastrophic thinking affects daily functioning, CBT can provide solid coping skills. You can learn CBT tips and skills online. The cognitive restructuring includes considering one’s thought process about a real or potential situation.
Cognitive restructuring has four steps:
- Recognise dysfunctional automatic thoughts.
- Recognise cognitive distortions.
- Discuss automatic thoughts.
- Create logical denial to automatic thoughts.
Following this, the client will meet with a therapist who will provide coping skills. The therapist will work with the client to figure out dysfunctional assessments of situations. The therapist guides the client to replace them with more useful ones. This often entails role-playing to mimic situations such that possible threats are viewed as doable.
Taking on a positive point of view improves self-regard. This in turn may increase positive emotional well-being. Thus, cognitive restructuring can be used by anyone trying to see the positive side of things in life.
Examples of Decatastrophising
- After a breakup, a person may feel that they will never find love. A healthy way to grasp this situation would be to think that the relationship ended because they were not a good match.
- After losing their job, a person may think they will never get a good job. A healthy way to grasp this situation would be to think that they have many strengths and will work on improving their flaws.
- An individual may feel ugly because of a pimple. The healthy approach would be to think breakouts are not forever.
- A person may feel they are doomed to be overweight and will never lose weight. A healthy way to think of this situation would be to think that they will continue to be healthy and active.
- A person may think they are terrible at small talk. A healthy way to grasp this would be to recall doing well in social gatherings before.
Different Treatments for Catastrophising
If you often find yourself having negative thinking patterns, you may gain from mindfulness. It might help you identify the baseless thoughts. It may also help you to control your thoughts in a better manner. Mindfulness has been used for thousands of years. Not only does it help stop you from thinking the worse, but it can also help with other aspects of mental well-being.
In case your catastrophising is linked to another condition, such as depression or anxiety, a doctor may advise medication. There is no specific medication that treats catastrophising. That said if your worst-case thinking is driven by depression. Treating your depression might help stop you from spiralling down thinking traps.
Six Tips to Cope With Catastrophising
Realising that unpleasant things happen
Everyone’s life has good and bad days. Just, because one day is bad does not mean all days will be bad. This can and often is light after darkness.
Admitting when thoughts are illogical
This kind of thinking often arises in a certain way. A person may begin thinking ‘My head is hurting today.’ They will then expand on this thought with worry, such as ‘my headache will only get worse.’ Thus, a person can cope with these thoughts only when they begin to realise these thought patterns.
To stop the endless negative thoughts, a person may have to say ‘stop’ out loud or in their head. This may help a person change their thinking patterns. It can help snap out negativity.
Think about a different result
Instead of worst-case scenario thinking, think of a positive or less negative result.
Using positive affirmations
When it comes to negative thinking, a person has to have faith that they can overcome the worst. They may find it helpful to repeat some positive affirmations to themselves daily.
Practising good self-care
Worst case scenario thinking usually occurs when a person is stressed or tired. Thus, it is vital to get enough rest. Sleep, exercise and a good diet are the foundation blocks of good self-care. People should engage in stress-relieving techniques such as meditation to feel better.