Why do I often assume the worst

Disaster Thinking: How To Put It Off

Disaster thinking paralyzes. Yet some people cannot help but obsessively imagine the worst possibilities that could arise in a given case. At some point these fears become a sure-fire success until the fear of fear comes along. This puts them in a vicious circle. The worst: When you look at it soberly, the negative thoughts often have no justification and are completely unrealistic. However, it is precisely this step that many do not take to see whether and to what extent their catastrophe thinking could be factually founded. So that you don't fall into a similar trap, we have put together how you can tell that you are in your own way ...

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Causes of Disaster Thinking

Catastrophic thinking often has its cause in the actual experiences of the person concerned assessed as a disaster were. A difficult childhood, traumatic experiences such as death, accident, illness and situations in which someone felt at their mercy can cause someone to take this feeling away.

Instead of being an adult to see one's own potential for action, draws on childhood experiences in situations in which someone was actually powerless. While some people perceive positive experiences as well as negative experiences and thus develop resilience, others tend to be victimized.

However, not in relation to real threats, but ruminations à la “What if ...”. But brooding costs time and devours quality of life. Instead of a comparison with reality, subjective thoughts are repeated over and over, so that objective ones Probability no place has more.

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How destructive thoughts work

What works in the positive, namely imprinting through constant repetition, unfortunately also works in the negative. Frequently recurring thoughts affect the neuron connections. The more often certain thoughts are thought, the more they can become solidify in the subconscious.

These are mistakes in reasoning that are based on assuming wrong conclusions. Small events become one attached great role or interpreted something into it that is so wrong. These mistakes in reasoning, in turn, lead to the fact that the motivation is lost.

For example, you asked your colleague to call you back on an urgent matter and you still haven't received a call until the next day. Disaster thinking would be that The reason for this was a super-GAU, which was increasing the number of floats to assume. This can include anything from accidents to personal injury:

  • The colleague didn't call back because he didn't want to help you.
  • He had a car accident.
  • He's making intrigues against you.

There are a number of them further, more likely possibilities:

  • He's off that day.
  • He is temporarily on sick leave.
  • He forgot it.
  • He didn't reach you.
  • He is up to his ears in work and has not yet had time.

In any case, the problem is: catastrophic thinking based on pure imagination. A language that uses many superlatives and terms that conjure up the image of a catastrophe already contributes to this. Or in other words:

Disaster speakers are disaster thinkers. With terms like Terrible, disastrous, catastrophe or worst-case scenario create alertness in yourself and others. Stress and pressure are automatically exerted on you, conceivably unfavorable framework conditions, in other words, being able to pursue the necessary things in peace and quiet.

Dark visions of the future set the tone

The behavior of those with disaster thinking is not far from those with depression.

An American study looked at 168 volunteers from emergency rooms and closed psychiatric wards in Philadelphia. Of the participants, 111 had attempted suicide in the previous 30 days, the remaining 57 were in acute psychiatric treatment.

They had not attempted suicide in the past two years. Using a checklist used for the first time, the researchers working with Shari Jager-Hyman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, found that participants at risk of suicide were more common struggling with distorted thoughts had than others.

People suffering from depression share this commonality with those who persist in thinking about disasters. The problem with this isn't just that someone is permanent revolves around negative thoughts.

The study by Jager-Hyman and her colleagues has shown that these thoughts are completely unrealistic. Certain experiences and stimuli are generated by those affected incorrectly sorted and rated.

Another problem is that they typically always focus on the future and thus fuel hopelessness and depression. The scientists recognized that hope is a central element in those affected:

At the moment when hopelessness as the engine of catastrophe thinking is grasped and specifically treated, could preventive against suicidal ideation proceed.

Tips against disaster thinking

The underlying fear is the fear of losing control. This fear is sometimes so great that it turns into physical symptoms manifested as headache, diarrhea, palpitations and rapid fatigue. So what can be done about catastrophe fantasies?

The often criticized approach of positive psychology and positive thinking is that people stop focusing solely on their negative traits. Of course everyone has faults - otherwise it wouldn't be human. But there is also one A multitude of positive propertiesthat should not be ignored.

And that's exactly the problem with disaster thinking - it will one-sidedly looked at the deficits. Correctly practiced positive thinking does not lead to just looking at the good qualities and opportunities. Rather, it is about creating a balance and being closer to reality so that the person concerned gets away from the negative pole.

For this, the view is consciously directed to other possible explanations, for example as follows:

  • Focus on the facts.

    Put together what you have in black and white. Using the example above, this would be: Has the colleague indicated that he is very busy, that he is unwell or mentioned a few days ago that he will soon have a day or two of vacation?

    And vice versa: Did he tell you that he thinks you are stupid? Did he denigrate you to the boss, let you appear in front of others? In the end, the facts remain through the process of elimination. Sometimes it helps to use a trick from philosophy to make it clear to yourself that your own thoughts are just catastrophic thinking.

    Occam's razor states that of all possible explanations for a thing, the simplest theory is the most likely. In our example that would be forgetting.

  • Find support.

    Ideally, you take someone who is kind to you but who does not unconditionally share your opinion on everything. This could be a mentor, a therapist, or someone close to you such as a friend or family member. It is crucial that this person's point of view helps to see things from a different perspective. You can try the latter on your own, but it's easier with someone else.

  • Write down thoughts.

    Joting down thoughts has a very similar function to that of someone close to you. First of all, you can list the negative thoughts. This helps to relieve the strain and clear your head.

    You automatically take a more distant position when you read these (often confused) thoughts from above or from outside. As the next step, you should write down alternatives and position them in such a way that you keep looking at them. One possibility is a post-it on the monitor, a door that you may go through frequently or you carry such notes with you.

  • Use the anchor trick.

    This method is known as the anchor technique. To do this, you assign positive thoughts to an object, ideally with the alternative thoughts you have developed to your catastrophe thinking. These alternative thoughts are "anchored" with the object. This can be anything:

    A beautiful stone from a holiday, a pretty sticker or a picture. It is important that your senses are addressed, for example through the feel of the stone or the look of the motif. Place this object so that you can see or feel it (the stone in your trouser pocket, for example) so that you will always be reminded of what should actually be in the foreground.

  • Picture the worst-case scenario.

    Think about the worst that could happen. For example, some people fear giving a presentation in front of other people because they are afraid of blackout at one point. Here it can help to think down to the last detail what such a situation might look like:

    You falter at one point, it gets quiet - and then? For example, a colleague could jump to your side with the words: "You were just about to tell about how sales could be increased ..." Or after a few seconds you will remember what you wanted to say. Or you can look at the index cards you made to be on the safe side.

    In all of this, it is also important: Of course, such situations are uncomfortable. But would you be the first person on earth to have a mishap? Hardly likely. Would you get fired for such things? Very unlikely. This method of confrontation is important in order to develop solutions from there and emerge stronger from crisis situations.

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