Anxiety builds up when we catastrophise. Catastrophising is when we imagine that terrible things are going to happen to us in our imagined future. It might be imagining that you are going to lose your job, that your partner will leave you, or that you are going to be in a terrible accident.
When we are catastrophising, it might be challenging to bring in what we consider a ‘rational’ thought. We might not be able to bring up the statistical probability of being in a catastrophic accident. It often feels like we have no control over our thinking and results in increased anxiety.
What makes us do this? For some, it is a learned coping mechanism. If I predict everything terrible that could happen to me, I will be able to prepare for it and stay safe somehow. The result is more anxiety, not more safety.
It might be a learned habit from a parent. Where there is nothing to do, maybe your mother’s nervous system couldn’t be regulated, so she would worry and catastrophise. Perhaps it is the result of a frightening experience.
Catastrophising can lead to irrational negative thinking and hopelessness about the future because it blocks out other possibilities and might stop you from moving forward in your life, which can lead to depression.
I’ll be following up tomorrow with some ideas to help with catastrophising.
If this is something you resonate with, let me know in the comments.