In the world of business, risk management is a big deal and many are taught to create contingency plans just in case the ideal plan doesn't go as planned. In a similar way, this is also played out in our personal lives. It sounds like "plan for the worst and hope for the best" or reveals itself as lowering your standards and expectations to avoid disappointment. There are some who walk the extreme mile of not hoping at all. The major problem with this way of thinking is that one will find themselves in a cycle of doubt and hopelessness; the very positions they don't desire to be in. And that is the greatest risk: the potential of missing out on what you dream of AND a peaceful journey to it's manifestation.
Here are a few things to remember on how to stop catastrophizing and making up stories with unhappy endings:
Catastrophizing ruins the journey towards your destination. How many times have you feared the worst, only for everything to work out fine or better than planned? Even when things didn't go your way, more often than not, they weren't as bad as the outcome you played in your mind. Simply put, the stories we tell ourselves make the road towards our goals much harder than they need to be. The moment you start to consider what could go wrong, take a deep breath and consider all that can go positively right.
Fixating on negative outcomes impacts us far longer than the moment. It has the ability to distort our perception and stifle our future steps. The more you catastrophize, the more apprehensive you become. This is when people find themselves in a state of what they call being stuck. The truth is, there was a wall being built, brick by brick, every time they focused on a perceived outcome that contradicted their desires. Often times, people aren't really stuck, they are actually trapped inside of a wall made up of thoughts that are telling them the opposite of what they hope for. Resist the urge to meditate on disaster and keep the vision in front of you. And be sure to celebrate when you arrive.
There should be celebrations each and every time you make it to the other side. If you deal with anxiety when it comes to going to a crowded store, after arriving home, safe and sound, have a celebration. Commemorate the victory with a speech. Tell yourself: Self, we made it home. We picked up everything we needed. And we even crossed paths with someone new and saw an old friend. We made it home. We are safe. The more you practice your wins in life, the more you begin to think and behave like a winner.
Planning ahead is not a bad thing. Especially if you find yourself wearing multiple hats. The danger in planning ahead comes when we think we actually control it. There has to be space for destiny to be destiny. Take a load off, and understand you don't control everything and you never were meant to do so. Respond to what you are able to and leave the rest up destiny. You may be surprised at how life takes a turn for your very best.
LifeWork: Take a moment to reflect on why you may catastrophize. Consider the event or relationship that may be related to this form of thinking.
Then, challenge yourself to remain hopeful in the process of pursuing a "small" goal or an obstacle you may face on a regular basis. Revisit the example about going to the store in the article above. Consider an everyday challenge you may face and be intentional about journeying through it with excitement and good expectations.
Journal your experience and celebrate your wins.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.