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Face Your Fears

Susan Jeffers created a best selling book out of the idea Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. I wouldn't always advocate that you do something you are afraid of doing, but I certainly agree that often your fears are worse than the reality.

Catastrophising or Fortune Telling

In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) the term catastrophising (or Fortune Telling) is sometimes used to describe someone who often imagines the worst and is preoccupied with thinking about what might go wrong. When you catastrophise you worry 'What if...?'

Often this negative fortune telling is very inhibiting and counter productive - it can lead you to avoid doing things that would be helpful or useful and the sheer stress of imagining the worst can take a toll on your health and make it difficult for you to focus on other activities.

If you find yourself worrying about something by imagining something is going to go wrong you can try to counter this by assessing realistically how serious the feared event would be if it did occur and what you could do if it did happen, then create a realistic balancing thought that you can say to yourself when you catastrophise to put the negative thought in perspective.

Example of Catastrophising

Sarah works in an environment where there are currently lots of pressures to cut costs. She is continually worrying about the prospect that she might lose her job (and hence her main source of income).

Sarah asks herself:

(1) How serious would it be if I lost my job?

(2) What could I do if it happened?

She writes her catastrophising thought down in the table below and alongside it she writes her balancing thought to put it in perspective after she has considered these two questions:

Catastrophising Thought
Balancing Thought
'I could lose my job and then I will be in serious financial trouble'

'It's true there is a possibility I could lose my job in this financial climate. It wouldn't be nice and it will create financial pressures but there are still many positives in my life and it would not be the end of the world.

If it happens then I'll start looking for alternative jobs and until I find one I'll look at ways of cutting down my expenses and discuss with my mortgage company if I can reduce my mortgage payments until I find a new job.'

 

Note: As can be seen from the above example, the idea is not to pretend that the feared situation would be easy to deal with. The idea is to examine realistically and specifically how bad it would be and to think about how you could act constructively if it happened. In other words the idea is to Face the Fear.

Try This Yourself: When you find yourself catastrophising, write down your negative prediction and then create a balancing thought to say to yourself to put it in perspective by asking yourself the same 2 questions that Sarah asked herself in the above example:

1. How Serious would it be?

2. What Could I Do if it happened?

 

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