Life is unpredictable, and with everything that is going on, you must be going into the worst-case scenario zone, more than you would like.
I hope you’re doing well. It’s hard to believe that we’re halfway through a year that has completely redefined our lives.
And if you’re someone who is struggling with anxiety, I’m sure this period of time has brought about a few too many “worse case scenario” thoughts.
Think about it: How often does a sudden negative thought increase into a worst-case scenario? How often does a thought turn into an absolute catastrophe in your mind? For instance, a dry cough turns into bronchitis. A flight to see a friend turns into the idea of your plane crashing. A canceled date turns into you dying alone. A global pandemic turns into an almost guarantee in your mind, that you and those you love will be affected by the virus.
It’s normal to have negative thoughts, no matter how extreme they might be at times. It’s part of our evolution to constantly scan our environment, looking for problems to fix. The problem is not so much that we have negative thoughts, rather, the issues arise when we believe our thoughts are true, and when they turn into a worst-case scenario that makes us feel even more anxious.
Think about an article in a tabloid about the latest celebrity. Most of us know it’s an exaggeration or fabrication. We don’t believe that the article is totally true, and we don’t change our lives around those articles. The negative thoughts in our minds are just like those tabloid stories. The problem is that if we don’t step back to gain a more truthful perspective, we may let worst-case scenarios run our lives.
Below are techniques you can practice before letting negative thinking turn into worst case-scenarios:
1. Notice your thoughts.
Pay attention to when your thoughts slip from realistic anxieties into unusual or unlikely scenarios. Notice the patterns without judgment. We tend to judge ourselves when our thinking becomes catastrophic, so notice if you’re judging yourself being that this amplifies your anxiety.
2. Remember what you actually do have control over.
You can’t control everything, but consider the realistic options available to you at the moment. If you’re scared of flying, research the statistics and learn about flying. Remind yourself that this practice has existed for over a century and that, statistically, you’re safer in a plane than in your car.
3. Do what scares you.
The single most effective way to overcome your fears is to face them. Famous psychologist Carl Jung observed that that which you resist persists.
For example, if you have a fear of flying, try your best to book a flight. If you are scared to face a serious issue in your marriage, face your partner. Because if there is a serious problem, then at least you’ll know what to work on, instead of worrying, ruminating and feeling stuck.