Thursday, 29 January 2015

Do You Catastrophise?

Catastrophising involves imagining the worst is going to happen. If you are prone to do this often when it is not warranted by the evidence, it can cause you stress and anxiety and may also inhibit you from acting or alternatively cause you to act in ways which are counterproductive.

Here is a tip for managing your tendency to catastrophise:

Each time you find yourself catastrophising don't beat yourself up or chastise yourself or think you are never going to change this pattern. Instead, smile at yourself and make a mental note that you are catastrophising (again!). If you want, you can keep a checklist of how many times you catastrophise in a day (this can be simply a series of ticks, each tick representing one time when you caught yourself catastrophising).

Remember you are not fighting this tendency to catastrophise, you are smiling at it! We all have foibles and this is one of yours. Simply noting it and acknowledging it in an accepting way can help to bring you out of your mental turmoil back into the real world. That is why I say: if you are keeping a written checklist, write a tick each time you catastrophise, not a cross - since a cross would be like fighting or putting a black mark against each occasion whereas actually what you are trying to do is to accept that it happens and then move on.

Once you have observed your catastrophic thought(s) in this accepting way, try to focus on doing something practical to get on with your day!

For information about where you can get more tips for dealing with negative thought patterns, click on the link below:

CBT Techniques to Beat Negative Thinking


  1. Catastrophising does create unwarranted stress, David, which is not good in any form. At the same time, I've noticed that one of the best ways to overcome fear or stress about a situation is to ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen, acknowledge it and get going without letting the imagination run wild and further paralyze me into inaction.

  2. Thanks for your comment Vatsala, yes unwarranted stress is often very paralyzing and painful (though I'm not sure I would go so far as to say it is not good in any form). Asking what is the worst that could happen is a good way of challenging the fear and complements the attitude of acceptance that I suggest. You can find further comments on the 'Facing the Fear' approach on my website at: Facing Your Fears with CBT