Catastrophic thinking can be defined as ruminating about irrational worst-case outcomes. It is like drowning in thoughts!
This way of thinking is seen in PANIC, ANXIETY, PTSD, OCD… It is where your thoughts do not line up with reality. Such as a non-threatening event makes your heartbeat faster. Before you know it, you are sure you are having a major heart attack or close to death. Maybe you drop the can of peas on your foot and your mind races from a blood clot to gangrene to amputation. Everyone at some point tends to have episodes of catastrophic thinking. But it is not a way of life! I have heard it explained that a single thought can create an avalanche of unrealistic fears that spiral out of control.
Anxiety can be harmful when it prevents you from living in peace and joy; it can also be can be helpful as a protection method to keep you on alert. That heightened sense of fight or flight, that can keep you safe. On the other hand, Catastrophic thinking is far beyond anything which may be helpful. It fills your mind with unnecessary fears and controls your behavior. If anxiety is related to a horrific damaging hailstorm, Catastrophic thinking is like a single thought that can produce an avalanche. I have heard it explained as this extreme type of thinking fills your mind with unhelpful and unnecessary emotions. When this happens, it is most difficult to see reality.
Remember thoughts can be managed!
To address this problem, cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) is known to be helpful. Common tips are understanding that in life there are challenges and how to recognize what triggers your Catastrophic thinking. Remember your thinking patterns most likely have become a habit and you must learn how to put the brakes on. This may include, loudly shouting – stop, no more, to interrupt the pathways that have been established. You would be guided on how to replace detrimental thoughts.
For those with any health-related anxiety or panic, the reason we stress a complete physical is magnified with Catastrophic thinking. You need evidence-based information, for example, that your heart is perfect – all tests ARE normal. You may need to read back to the role of adrenaline in causing your symptoms.
Here is part of an article found in Talkspace: What is Catastrophic Thinking? ( And How To Stop) . that reinforces steps needed to overcome the control it has on your thought patterns.
1. Keep an eye on your thoughts
How can you stop something you don’t realize is happening until you’re deep in its maw? The first step in preventing the anxiety avalanche is learning to recognize the unique fingerprint of your brain’s catastrophic thinking.
Practice observing your thoughts without judging their validity or truthfulness. If that sounds hard, you aren’t alone: there’s a reason an increasing number of Americans are taking up yoga and meditation. Sign up for a nearby yoga class or take time each morning to meditate. These practices teach you how to acknowledge your thoughts — without getting swept up in their tide.
Stopping catastrophic thinking requires stepping in at the first sign of trouble. Once you understand your personal thought patterns, recognizing a disturbance will be much easier.
2. Find your spiral’s source
When you’re deep in the black cloud of panicked thinking, uncovering the spiral’s original spark can be difficult. You’re worried about losing your boyfriend, your apartment, and your job — but dig deep to find the root. Did this spiral begin because you failed a pop quiz in chemistry class? Because you felt a funny lump in your armpit?
Once you’ve found what caused the spiral, it’s easier to deal with the problem. Think about it like killing a fast-growing vine: If you don’t dig out the roots, the leaves will continue spreading indefinitely.
3. Use your logical brain
Once you’ve dialed down your catastrophic thinking to its source, take time to dissect your specific anxieties about the issue. Now is a great opportunity to practice your meditation skills, lest you fall into yet another spiral during the dissection! Perhaps learning how to drive terrifies you, and your thinking catastrophizes every time you get behind the wheel.
Use logic to help defeat your wily brain. A lot of panic comes down to overestimating the true chances of danger. Learning the facts may soothe your mind: Research how often car accidents happen and read up on best driving practices to ensure that you’re the safest driver you can be.
Are your concerns health-related? While it might seem scary, the best cure is seeing your doctor. Or if you’re struggling at work, talk it through with your boss — chances are they’ll be more kind and receptive than you expected.
4. Challenge your anxious thinking
Spirals are scary because the thoughts feel so real, but if you notice yourself slipping, take a deep breath and challenge your beliefs. Ask yourself, “Is this threat real right now?” Perhaps you’ve been stuck in your bed for days waiting for laboratory test results. Your mind may be caught up in a web of worries: Do I have a disease? If I have a disease, am I going to die? Even if I survive, how will I afford my care?
Stop. Focus on the here and the now. If the test results are bad, you can deal with it at that moment — don’t waste time panicking about it now!
You want to challenge your catastrophic thinking, but you don’t want to beat yourself up for having anxious thoughts. Our brain does all sorts of unwelcome things without our consent and having a panic spiral doesn’t make you a bad person. Don’t get angry at yourself for falling for your mind’s clever trap — focus your energies on escaping its pull.
Also, on talkspace is an article that I encourage you to read.
The story my friend wrote about her life is almost complete and will be shared soon. Once you read excerpts of her life history, it may make it easier for some to realize if she has overcome “all of it”, they may be able to overcome trauma in their life.
Do not let an unrealistic thought turn into an avalanche
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