Why It Isn’t a Catastrophe…

Posted on 18th February 2017 | Category: CBT

Life has this way of catching us out. Often when our progress is going marvellously well it can be our over confidence that causes us a moment of weakness and we make a mistake. When we have a large amount of emotional stock in the outcome of a situation this can be hugely disheartening, but contrary to popular belief – and that’s a belief we all suffer from at times – it is not the end of the world.

So why do we try to make it into a catastrophe? Why do we want one small bad event to sour everything around us? If we take the time to view our circumstances, we are usually involved in a number of situations that are in varying states of progress. And it is unlikely these will affect each other. So if we make a mistake at work, does it mean our partner is going to leave us? Or if we smash a vase at home, will the boss at work be angry? Of course not, but sometimes we manage to magnify bad incidents and let them snowball into a personal disaster.

One of the main reasons why we turn one small negative incident into a catastrophe is our self-perception. When we are hanging on to our critical observer, the part of our personality that is forever trying to hold us accountable, the problems we face seem bigger than they actually are. We forget that everyone around us is submerged in their own drama and imagine that they have the same focus on us. We instantly imagine that we are being judged by everyone for one downfall, when really many people will be so wrapped up in their own drama they don’t even notice what is happening to us.

Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect game. When John McEnroe used to play Tennis, he was always trying to make no mistakes. The moment he’d strike a ball badly, or not get the call he wanted, he’d fly into a rage. If you were alive at the time you may have remembered his on court outbursts. What did these actually achieve? By putting so much pressure on himself, McEnroe would often become the biggest danger to achieving the outcome he truly wanted – to win the match.

When something doesn’t go to plan in our lives, it can often be very discouraging. We can struggle to put it into perspective and sometimes we simply do not want to deal with the bad feeling it creates. This is where mindfulness training helps. Take time to understand how you feel, and then ask yourself if it is rational and justified to feel the same way about other situations in your life that you care about. Even with large scale events, like crashing your car, there are other parts of your life that will ground and support you through such a difficult time.

Catastrophes are rare. Making things into a catastrophe is common. By focusing on alternative outcomes you’ll quickly gain a different view however where nothing is actually as bad as you think it might be. There is nothing wrong with taking time out. Find some space in your life by all means, but use it to relax and think about all the good things to minimise and squash the one bad thing that will always happen in that unavoidable manner.