There is an awful lot of awfulizing going on in my orbit today. If you listen to some people, the world is going to end. You might be the one doing the awfulizing.
Listen, you are not Nostradamus. You cannot predict the future. The future is uncertain at all times. There is no certainty outside of ourselves…except for this very moment in time. Remember what I said a few weeks ago? Our brains want certainty and they will do whatever is necessary to get it, including awfulizing.
So what is awfulizing? It’s a term that means that we overestimate the potential seriousness or negative consequences of any given circumstance. The term was coined by Albert Ellis and is a synonym to catastrophizing.
Some of us tend to do this more than others. Guilty party over here! Our brain’s default reaction is that everything is going to shit and that we are going to die. We whip ourselves into an anxious hot mess with these thoughts that are very difficult to get under control.
So what can we do?
First of all, slow your roll. Take some deep breaths. Identify that you are awfulizing and realize that it is not good for your health. Then start asking yourself some questions.
- What is the situation that you are awfulizing about? Get as specific as possible and avoid “what if’s”.
- What is the worst thing that can happen? How likely is that? Has it ever happened before? How frequently does this occur in real life?
- What feeling will you have if the worst thing happens? What would that feel like in your body? If it’s just a vibration, why are you so afraid of it?
- If you were able to handle this feeling with no fear, how might you act differently?
- If the worst does happen, how will you handle it? What have you done in similar past situations? What can you do to prepare?
- If the best happens, how will you handle it?
- Imagine talking to a friend who’s caught in awfulizing something in their life; what would you tell them? How would you help them?
These steps will help you to get your knee-jerk reactions under control and your thoughts back into the realm of practicality to help you reduce anxiety.
Do yourself a favor my friends. Turn off the TV and go for a walk.
PS: If you are a high achieving professional who wants to learn how to Stress Less and create an extra 5 hours per week of free time, I’d like to invite you to join my free Facebook group “The High Achiever’s Stress Management Collective”. I’m excited to see you there! I go live every Sunday night at 6:00 PM eastern to discuss a topic and answer your questions.