Tuesday, June 5, 2012

When Worst Comes to Worst

This week’s column is about a term that I like to refer to as “horrible-izing”.  If you are not familiar with the idea of horrible-izing, it can be defined as one’s tendency to focus on the worst of things.   For example, a person may be engaging in the act of horrible-izing if they overemphasize the negative side of life  Likewise, those that horrible-ize are those that ruminate, worry about worst possible outcomes, the dreaded “what ifs”, and tend to view undesirable situations as the “end of the world”. 

If we are honest with ourselves, most of us must admit that we horrible-ize from time to time, particularly when we are feeling anxious about an upcoming situation or a troublesome circumstance that we have encountered.  We fall into the trap of thinking about how badly things might go, how awful it would be for us if these events actually occurred, and we forget to take it one step further and consider what we might actually do  should these things really take place.  We might even get so wrapped up in our anxiety that we begin to worry that our life will be forever altered in some catastrophic way. 

If you would, take a moment to think about something in your life that is upsetting, anxiety-provoking, or unsettling.  Perhaps you are facing a transition in a relationship and you are unsure of how to move forward.  Perhaps you have committed yourself to something that is a significant undertaking.  Perhaps you have recently encountered a situation in life that you are unsure of how to handle.  Or, perhaps, you tend to experience smaller triggers on a more regular basis and you have become accustomed to feeling reactive, tightly wound, or shaken up. Or, perhaps something entirely different has come to mind

Regardless of what you thought of, I would like you to think about how you think about those things.  Take a minute or two and horrible-ize.  Think about the worst of the worst, no matter what that may be. 

Then, take note of what came to mind.  I am willing to bet that you stopped short at the worst case scenario and you went no further.  If that is the case, I would like to challenge you to change your thinking.  Rather than focusing on the bad things that could happen and stopping there, take one step beyond and imagine how you might live through and overcome such an obstacle.  Instead of obsessing about the possibility of something bad happening, ask yourself how probable it is that your worries come true.  Ask yourself if this is something that you could live through, and if so, how would life look?  Would it be that bad? 

Finally, compare these two thought processes and decide for yourself which one you would rather invest your energies in to.  Take into account that “what we think about, we bring about”, and remember that your thoughts and your perspective on life will always be your choice.   

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