Do you get caught up with worrying excessively about the future?
Do you expect that the absolute worst case scenario can and will occur?
Do you obsessively play out a scene over and over in your mind?
All of these can cause a racing heart, butterflies in your stomach, feelings of fear and panic, and even a sense of impending doom. All of this is catastrophic thinking.
What causes catastrophic thinking?
Often it's something we learn at a young age, especially if we have an overprotective, worrying, anxious parent or caregiver. We tend to mimic these thought patterns, lock them into our bodies and carry them with us into adulthood.
At the core of catastrophic thinking are negative self-limiting beliefs such as:
- “Good things never happen to me.”
- “I always screw things up.”
- “I’m not good enough.”
- “I’m not strong enough to handle this.”
- “No matter how hard I try nothing ever changes.”
- “No matter what I do it’s never enough.”
- “Nothing ever works out for me.”
- “I’m destined for failure.”
- “Why me?”
If you've ever experienced trauma or abuse, you may also expect that you will somehow be hurt again. You think that if you play out all the worst-case scenarios in your head ahead of time, then somehow you'll be able to control the outcome, protect yourself, and keep the bad thing from happening. This is exhausting!
So what else is possible?
Exactly! That's a great question to ask!
Here are 4 other tools you can use to stop the anxiety caused by catastrophic thinking.
- ASK YOURSELF SOME QUESTIONS:
- What would it take to create the best possible outcome here?
- What could I be or do different that I've never even considered?
- Who does this belong to? Return to sender whatever energy isn't yours.
- Who am I being right now? Return to sender whatever energy isn't yours.
- TAKE SOME DEEP BREATHS:
- Get out of your head tripping and anxiety by getting back into your body.
- Put one hand on your chest, one hand on your belly.
- Feel your feet on the floor and your back on the chair.
- Take several deep, belly breaths, breathing through your mouth. Make the exhale much longer than the inhale. This will help your nervous system calm down.
- TUNE INTO YOUR SENSES:
- Feel your feet on the ground
- Look at objects around you
- Listen to the sounds near you
- Notice the smells around you
- Keep a worry stone or other object in your pocket that you can touch
- CREATE YOUR “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY” TOOLBOX:
- Write these tools I’ve just shared (along with any other strategies you have for calming down) on an index card.
- Carry this card – your “toolbox” – with you. Whether it’s in your wallet or on your phone, the idea is for you to have easy access to these resources for when you need them.
- When your start to panic, try to remember your “In case of emergency” Toolbox!
- Pull out your list and begin to use your tools for calming down.
- I've compiled a Top 10 Tips List for Coping with Anxiety that you can get for free when you sign up for my newsletter here: adrianapopescu.org
It can also be extremely beneficial to receive therapy or coaching sessions to identify and reprogram the core self-limiting beliefs that keep you stuck on the hamster wheel of catastrophic thinking.
To receive more pragmatic tools and facilitation from Dr. Lisa Cooney and myself so you can end the battle with catastrophic thinking, join us LIVE on “Beyond Therapy, Beyond Abuse, Beyond Anything,” on Tuesday May 19th at 10am PDT/1 pm EDT.
And please check out my special offer for Dr. Lisa's community here:
What if a whole new reality is available to you now?