Catastrophising; worst case scenario at an extreme

Source of writing – feature photo by pixabay

Something catastrophic can be devastatingly disastrous for the person or persons involved, with no logically rational or reasonable connections or explanations.

Catastrophising thinking can cause irrational thoughts in the sense, you believe something is worse than it is.

When a mindset shifts to thinking about impending probable disasters, we are creating a catastrophe that influences our thought to catastrophise, causing oneself to feel something is way bigger or problematic than it is, making it appear catastrophic.

These thoughts that are plausible but highly unlikely to happen can cause a loss of control in your abilities to manage this way of thinking, creating mental and physical repulsions.

Whether you are anticipating a catastrophe in your future or coping with one in your present can be interchangeably irrelevant at times, as both cause negative influences.

My understanding through experience, learning and listening are that catastrophising thinking is where an individual’s thoughts become increasingly disabling.

As there anxiety grows, cumulatively creating negative thoughts that spiral out of control extremely fast, to the worst case scenario.

At times these thoughts will be extremely rational border lining on irrational where you believe something is worse than it is, causing your brain to think more deeply on a potentially disastrous outcome.

Whether your way of thinking is catastrophising something happening in your current or future situation, you can become trapped thinking about all the things that could go wrong which is an unpleasant loop.

I used to describe this type of thought process as ‘thinking way too ‘outside of the box’, requiring help to be reigned in at times.

Some have been under the impression and opinion at times, I need to think more ‘outside the box’ when I burn out physically?!!

A catastrophe is an event, circumstance, or situation that happens when substantially great damage and unusually sudden suffering occurs, with disastrous consequences.

When looking into catastrophising thinking I came across a new word ‘denouement’ which is the final part, where everything is drawn together and matters are explained and resolved.

There are many a label where the symptoms have high levels of anxiety and stress, while catastrophising thinking is a major contributor more researched and found in those labeled Autistic, but linkable to many a psychological and neurological disability.

Thinking in this mindset can cause struggles with friendships because the individual does not understand social cues.  When we take a situation and give it a negative spin unless we can counteract that with a positive one or a balancing point, it isn’t usually received well.

As I have said catastrophising thinking is where your mind becomes stuck in high levels of stress and anxiety about a situation, or event, that causes the brain to think deeply about a potentially disastrous outcome.

It is that feeling that you have done, or something, is about to go wrong, coming to negative conclusions whether based on past experiences or not.

This is where negative thoughts spiral out of control extremely fast, jumping to the worst case scenario which isn’t implausible just highly unlikely to happen or occur.  Knowing this is not always enough to stop it but can be manageable.

This can cause a problem in all of your relationships interpersonal or not. Relationships such as friendships can be negatively influentially impacted because you don’t understand social rules.  How you think you are projecting your persona may not be how it is received.

You can become mentally and physically repulsed to dissatisfying levels of comfort. Something that can cause me a lot of displeasure is seeing or hearing someone eating with their mouth open which can be problematic eating out, which is something I do enjoy doing.

For younger generations, you may find school challenging due to meltdowns and shutdowns which I plan to do an article to understand the terminologies better. You could be the opposite and cope with school but your behaviour deteriorates at home, or at both.

Looking back I had a problem of locking myself in the bathroom at school waiting for the day to be over. Not knowing or understanding what, why, when, or even how the events became so overwhelming, a sense of complete loss of control and reality, always done privately.

I came across an interesting article by Lorraine Macalister who is an Autism training consultant at the National Autistic Society where she referenced it as ‘a build-up of stress causing a constant state of hyper-arousal which is the ‘fight or flight mode’.

“This is where the brain goes to the worst-case scenario in a variety of situations”

In this article Alexithymia was referenced which I intend to look more into but this is where there is a diminished vocabulary to describe different levels of emotional experience.

“If you can’t find or don’t know the words to describe how oneself is feeling, it can be really hard for everyone or anyone to understand.”

I usually keep these type of thoughts internal, putting a voice to them can make me feel really uncomfortable, especially if the results are ‘don’t worry’ ‘it’s fine’ or, ‘you’re just being silly’, this type of response doesn’t help.

This is where I have been reading, that the person you voice this to should take you seriously because you are genuinely worried. I can’t help my mind from doing this at times, therefore, I find myself always looking for the opposite and reciting

Wherever there is a negative there is a positive, find it no matter how small, a silver lining or a brighter side whatever word fits.

Everyday activities and tasks can be a real drain on Autistic people potentially causing high levels of stress. I am not diagnosed autistic, although, I do have very many a trait, catastrophising thinking is a personal struggle I deal with daily.

Understanding the fact you do this can be the first step towards learning how to control and manage this way of thinking. People closest can avoid being triggers unintentionally in one of the three ways I have been reading about across a wide spread of information.

A really useful one that is making a world of difference in my day to day living is making adjustments to use clear and direct communication to try and help the individual in question from jumping straight to worst case scenario.

My tones can be picked at here, where I’m mistaken for angry or aggressive because I am displeased with the way I am thinking but I would rather that, than the alternative.  Another previous article linkable to this one Saturday 8th September 2018; What do you do when no one knows what is wrong with you, 3 years later????

The second was to break down and examine the chain of catastrophe scenario into a flowchart style, looking at why the worst-case scenarios might not happen. You don’t have to get pens and paper out, just visualise it and rationalise it into the more likely scenario.

Last but not least is the one that can be mistaken for depression at times for me personally but is a brilliant way that I cope with this way of thinking, is to remove the emotion and look at the facts. You can do this by using key sentences such as……

Are there any actions I can take to reduce the likelihood of a negative outcome transpiring from this way of thinking.

By someone close asking this question or by you asking it yourself, because by becoming aware you can learn to control and manage this way of thinking before it spirals.

I do believe that by accepting that catastrophising is a part of you that can be controlled or managed, can prevent or help handle the self-destructive cycle of self-hatred, anxiety, and depression. This is explained in this article written previously A trio for self destruction: self-hatred, anxiety, and depression

Another useful way to control and manage these thoughts would be to boost your self-esteem which I also wrote another article linking to this one Tuesday 11th September 2018; Esteem and confidence, looking at the brighter side of life

By feeling better about oneself and having more of a positive outlook on your experiences, can reduce the likelihood to catastrophise.  Something that gives me some ease is knowing I am not the only one that thinks like this.

I have also been reading it is vital to give oneself time to recover afterward but how one goes about recovering is something I wonder, maybe others may have insights?  I also came across a little piece relating to Intuitive thinkers and Autistic’s being traumatised by different things but, they respond differently.