Catastrophizing help


I wanted to see how people coped with catastrophizing. That part of my brain seems so deeply embedded, almost primordial. I'm able to put more distance between me and the catastrophe these days, and I want to see if I can make headway into dealing with it. If a neighbor complains about my lawn, I slowly come to believe that I'll be kicked out of my house. I can easily find the series of steps that would lead to that. Or if I mess up at work, I become convinced that I'm going to be fired. Though I always get a good annual report. Most of the time, my catastrophic reaction is in response to something I said or did to someone, especially a significant other. Sometimes it takes a few minutes or hours, but I'll begin to ruminate about the consequences of what I just did or what just happened and I'll come to the epiphany that catastrophe is coming. I then get swamped with terror and helplessness, and I just want to curl up in a ball. Sometimes I'll even fall asleep. I think it's my brain trying to reset or trying to power down. When I was a kid, the tiniest infraction would set off my narcissistic, psychopathic, sadistic dad. My dad had no problem brutalizing me for the slightest annoyance that I caused him. Once he abandoned me for a whole night and morning when I was a toddler because he didn't like the way I chewed my food. So for me, my earliest experiences gave me the notion that any little thing could lead to my world ending. Am I doomed to always react catastrophically? What can I do to be more proactive about ending such catastrophizing?


I think as humans we are complex beings and sometimes in order to function or get things done we either the the longest way to get there cause that is all we know or short cut cause we are intelligent being or naturally stumble up on some other way.

Reading your post, I got stuck on this line: "
Most of the time, my catastrophic reaction is in response to something I said or did to someone, especially a significant other.

I wonder if that is maybe your holy grail.


I think I do less catastrophizing now than I did. Part of what has changed is I'm able to recognize the underlying fear and nurture it. Hmm... having troubles finding the right words to explain. Like if I make a mistake at work, the first reaction is to think something horrible is going to happen. But I can stop that from growing by allowing the feeling to happen but recognizing it's a young part inside and that I am no longer you and helpless. That I get good reviews and appreciated. That mistakes happen and most of the world does not react like my family did when I was a young kid. It's a lot of self talk inside.

Not sure if that's helpful at all.


Thanks @grit and @Muttly. Glad you're getting less reactive. I think I am too. The problem for me is that the imagined catastrophe is within the realm of possibility, in which case, I would do well in preparing for it. My family did get evicted from an apartment when I was a child, I have gotten fired. So I can't say these things won't happen. But I think the idea of accepting the feeling and identifying it sounds like a good approach.


Right Size.
And then what?

NOT in that order, or any particular order. In point of fact? I’ll run them backwards. 😉

Sourcing is like what you did with “This comes from my dad looking for any excuse -or none- to XYZ”. I hit someone’s dog a few years back, and by the time I got home I was already packing us out in my head so by the time I got the car stopped I was in motion; and debating about whether we had enough time to scrub out identities in addition to grabbing essentials (5 minutes? Or 30?). It’s mixing up the past and present. Where my head was at? Hitting someone’s dog who ran out in front of your car was total justification for killing you & your family. WHY I kicked into that headspace? I don’t know. Something triggered something. With the plates of my car, in good legal order registered to my own name and my address, since I stopped to help? We were all as good as dead, if we didn’t leave, and leave NOW.

Right Size In this white picket fence first world life? Even running over someone’s child isn’t justification to kill them, much less their whole family. So whilst in my head it was a matter of life or death, in reality? I wasn’t even going to get a vet bill, or a ticket, much less a beat down or death. They were the ones legally in the wrong, their dog off-leash, and it ran out into traffic. How BIG a problem is? Very much depends on time and place. It ALSO very much depends on the people involved. Including my own self.

And Then What? Is a game I play to Kill. The. Anxiety. Because if there was actually a crisis? I’d sort it. No worries. It’s the waiting for a crisis to land that spins me out. It doesn’t matter how off the wall my “what if” brain is spinning out... I ask myself “and then what”? And I follow the chain to it’s end (or tree from branch to bud, if a lot of other options spring to mind). It breaks the anxiety loop by actually tracing out / tracking down what to do next. I’m going to jump away from my dog example for a moment to touch on job loss / eviction. Becuase you’re smart, you’re a good mom. So what you’d ACTUALLY DO if either of those 2 things happened? Will flow rather easily. Number 1, no matter what else, you’d make it manageable for your kids. Moving on from there? You lose your job? And then what? You start applying for others. You get a new job. Or? You don’t get a new job. First choice ends the loop, second one keeps moving. Okay. And then what? You apppy for unemployment, and disability, and start those balls rolling. And then what? Keep applying for new jobs. (What if you still are t getting a bite, but need food, rent, etc.?) then you apply for food aid, and emergency aid, and see if your area has banned evictions during the pandemic, and (list goes on). And you just keep on ticking down the list until all the 😲 OMFG WHAT IF?!? actually has... answers. Reasonable, rational, I not only can but would and shall do that, answers.