Catastrophising is a way of cognitive distortion. It involves irrational thoughts where we believe something is far worse than it actually is regardless of whether the situation is about the past, present or future. It goes hand in hand with rumination, where your mind won’t get a rest from these thoughts.

Catrophising takes a small event – for example, an argument with your partner – and creates negative thoughts such as “My day is ruined”, whilst you could step forward and have a good day.

There is no proof that this argument will affect the rest of your day. However, your perception can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Furthermore, your catastrophising may result in more negative thoughts – “something irreparable happened” – and you start acting like the relationship has already ended.

What’s next? You are already pulling out, not giving your 100 per cent. You think your partner is leaving you, and your behaviour changes daily according to this thought. What happens next? Yes, the partner does not think you care, and the self-prophecy proves you right. But was it really right? Or maybe your negative thoughts, your catastrophising changed your behaviour and feelings? Was it actually you who finished the relationship? 

A person who catastrophises usually sees an unfavourable outcome to an event and then decides that the results will be a disaster if this outcome does happen.

How can therapy help with catastrophising

We go through your thoughts, behaviours and feelings. We really examine them, take them apart, until we discover the negative thought pattern that rules your life. 

What can you do yourself?

  1. Listen when others speak and pick up the catastrophising language patterns. 
  2. Now notice how you talk. I say, “I can’t stand it!” many times a day, but, in reality, I can and do it every day. Trying to explain to others what bothers you might bring better benefits than letting your day be ruined by tiny things blown out of proportion. 
  3. Enjoy your days! Probably you will experience some discomfort, arguments, anger, but don’t let it spoil your day. Instead, use positive self-talk – “Oh well, never mind, we’ll get through this” – and go for a walk, have a nice cup of tea or whatever you enjoy doing. Life is short; you might as well enjoy it. 

Get in touch if negative thinking patterns are ruining your life.

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