Allow me to stipulate that if you read the word ‘catastrophizing’ in the title and thought to yourself ‘the fuck?’ please don’t worry. It’s a rather grand and intimidating word, but I assure you it looks a hell of a lot more complicated than it really is.
Catastrophizing, in my own words, is the act of blowing something way out of proportion and assuming the absolute worst outcome of a particular situation. For example, say you’re on your way to work and you hit traffic. Catastrophizing would present itself as having a literal mental breakdown in the car along with a solid panic attack; convincing ourselves we have lost our job because we will be late; being under the impression that everyone else sitting in traffic knows you’re going to lose your job because you’re a few minutes late; accepting that the world is out to get us and we may as well throw the towel in right now as we are idling in traffic.
Essentially, when we catastrophize, we manipulate our own minds into thinking of the most horrendous and unfortunate outcome possible rather than staying cool and trying to formulate cohesive thoughts with logic.
Catastrophizing is something that affects a lot of folks with anxiety, and I believe this is because anxiety is such a shit in terms of its ability to cloud and misconstrue our thoughts and judgment quite naturally. The two go hand-in-hand and essentially feed off of one another until we are quite literally feeling like the world is crumbling around us.
I’m not sure if there is an outright cure for catastrophizing, but if you’re someone guilty of practicing this, a good thing to keep in mind is that catastrophizing is not permanent, nor is it beyond the means of our own control. When we find ourselves positively drowning in terrible thoughts and ideas, it can be helpful to take some deep breaths, regroup and collect ourselves, and try to assess the situation from a more realistic perspective.