Today’s distortion highlights all those times when your mind faces a difficulty and then goes from zero to “it’s the end of the world as we know it.” Catastrophizing makes mountains out of molehills. It takes the smallest things and blows them way out of proportion. Every little thing becomes a sign that your deepest fears will surely manifest.
Example #1: Bob didn’t call Marcia back last night. She left him a message at 7:00 p.m. Clearly this is a sign that Bob is no longer interested in dating her. In fact, he has seemed rather distant lately. And just last week, when she asked about his work, he really seemed on edge. Yes, Bob is clearly on the way out of this relationship.
Example #2: Claudia graduated and is now looking for work. After one month of sending out resumes and cover letters, she hasn’t even gotten one response. Clearly this is a sign that Claudia wasted all that money on school. Her loans will come due soon and then she will be in default. This was all a huge mistake. Why did she think going back to school was a good plan anyway? Ugh.
The cure to catastrophizing is perspective. Being able to recognize and see your own insecurities for what they are can help you to pull back and see the broader picture. Being able to lighten up and let go is a good skill to master.
Do yourself and your stress level a favor and learn to see this distortion for what it is. Or to quote a famous movie line, “Cheer up. It may never happen.”
Fridays – Flaws in Thinking
There are some common errors in thinking (more formally called cognitive distortions and biases) that can get in the way of healthy and helpful thinking. Each Friday, you will learn a new term to help in seeing your own thinking more clearly.
My Writing and Other Resources for Students
A growing collection of writing and other resources for students to use to continue their growth.