Day 1105: How to Catastrophize

This is the 1105th consecutive day I’ve posted for this cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-oriented blog, and it’s the first time I’ve ever used the word “Catastrophize” in the title, much less explained how to do it.

Oh no!  This is a catastrophe! Horrible things are going to happen!

What horrible things might happen?

  1. My readers will be disappointed!
  2. Some will stop reading this blog in disgust!
  3. People  will look up the word “catastrophize” and realize it’s a made-up word!
  4. I will lose all credibility in the elite group of CBT bloggers!
  5. I’ll get lots of angry comments, below!
  6. WordPress will finally look at one of my posts to consider me for “Freshly Pressed,” realize what a failure I am, and put me (or keep me) on a list of “Never Freshly Press this Blog, NO MATTER WHAT!”
  7. My life as a blogger will be over!
  8. Word will get out to the real world, and all my patients will stop seeing me for CBT-oriented therapy!
  9. I’ll get fired from my job!
  10. I’ll become penniless!
  11. All my friends and family will abandon me!
  12. My life will be irrevocably ruined!
  13. This will kill me!

See how it works?

If you want to apply my humble example of catastrophizing, above, to any situation, it helps to

  • identify all your worst fears,
  • link them to your current situation,
  • use the prodigious powers of your imagination, and
  • don’t hold back!

For some reason, human minds seem to be designed for catastrophizing. So if  you start today, soon you’ll be catastrophizing with the best of them!

I’m catastrophizing, now, that if I don’t give you a list of possible side effects of catastrophizing, I might be in big trouble with some powerful people and organizations (whoever they might be).  Therefore, I will now tell you that side effects of catastrophizing MIGHT include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • increased stress
  • lower self esteem
  • sleeplessness
  • lack of appetite
  • increase of appetite
  • exacerbation of physical illnesses
  • isolation
  • death.

Hmmm. I wonder what catastrophes my using the word “death” in this blog post will unleash in the blogosphere?

If this blog post helps you become SO good at catastrophizing that you have trouble turning it off (like lots of other people), try these antidotes:

  1. Take a breath.
  2. Tell yourself: “I am safer than it feels.”
  3. Soothe yourself with nature, music, or other things that have helped in the past.
  4. Connect with somebody trustworthy, if possible.
  5. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself by getting enough nourishing food, water, sleep, etc.
  6. Remember you are not alone.

Okay!  Let’s see if I have any photos on my iPhone to illustrate “How to Catastrophize.” I know I took very few pictures yesterday, so chances are all those photos are going to suck!




Any potential catastrophes there?

Catastrophizing thanks to all who helped me create this catastrophic post and to you — watch out! — for reading it.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , | 64 Comments

Post navigation

64 thoughts on “Day 1105: How to Catastrophize

  1. classyivy

    I enjoyed this post; well done.

  2. The first picture looks a bit edgy. I think many naturally do so but I think many can drop the concern quickly by realizing that you can on do so much and that is about it.

    • I did think, for a moment yesterday, that the plate of spaghetti was too close to the edge. Many thanks for this naturally helpful comment!

  3. You put a big plate of spaghetti on your page and expect me to notice anything you wrote? Ha. Oh, wait–“ancient grains” pasta? Never mind.

  4. symptoms include an increase of appetite Ann? Interesting!

    I have been known to catastrophize situations…ahh if only I used half the energy I spend on fear, on hope and/or faith. ❤
    Diana xo

  5. I hope I’m not creating a potential catastrophe by telling you “catastrophize” is in the Oxford English Dictionary with quotations dating back as far as 1962–which, now that I spell it out, isn’t that long ago. But you might have been called a catastrophist in 1837.
    Neologisms are wonderful things but just as good as reviving an out-of-use word.

    • You pretty much always reduce my catastrophizing, Catastrophically and Categorically Careful Chris. Today is no exception.

  6. There might be have been a “cat”astrophe with that plate of pasta so close to the edge, Ann. ☺

  7. Just experienced this yesterday! My mom accidentally got locked in the back seat of the car when we parked to go into a restaurant. She started pounding on the window and screaming an in general freaking out. Like, freaking out. I couldn’t figure out what she thought was going to happen; like we were never going to notice that she wasn’t with us inside, we’d leave her there forever…I don’t know. But she was catastrophizing in a big way.

    • It seems like your mother knows how to catastrophize without reading this blog post. Thanks for sharing that experience, Jill.

  8. hoping to un-read
    before the
    catostrophic mojo
    kicks in 🙂

  9. I am going to try 5 of your tips today. 🙂

  10. I hope those animal-shaped cookie jars aren’t gluten free…

  11. Hi Ann, it is a catastrophe of a day when I do not get the chance to read your blog!!!

  12. Since tomorrow could be the end of the world, this post is perfect premonition! xo

  13. Here I am! Catastrophes will not stop me.

  14. They say 9 lives because we are so resilient.

  15. What a catastrophe! Last time I fell I landed on Ann’s computer!

  16. I had a feeling that’s how I got on the path to catastrophize!!!

  17. I was already well-versed in catastrophizing before reading this post…thank you for the antidotes!
    I’ve nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award (not a catastrophe, I hope?).

  18. I love this post. You have an awesome personality I can hear it. Nice to meet you Ann!

  19. Hi Ann, Thanks for the follow. As I started reading this post, I immediately thought: “My wife is an expert on how to Catastrophize”… I was praying you’d provide tips against it. By the end of the post, my prayers were answered – you seem to know alot about this stuff. I look forward to reading more and connecting to you in this amazing blogosphere!

    • Wonderful to see you here! I do know a lot about this catastrophizing stuff — personally and also through my work as a therapist. Thanks for connecting through this truly amazing blogosphere!

  20. Assuming the oven pic is a metaphor, it would be catastrophic never to turn it on

  21. Reblogged this on Ancien Hippie.

  22. Oh Ann, I have catastrophized everything lately – stupid, angry posts, now either edited or obliterated, against my horrible brother-in-law. Every time I forgive he does something worse. I am so miserable. Jx

    • Take a breath, Julie, connect with somebody you trust, try to get some nourishing food and sleep, and remember that you are loved by many here. ❤

  23. Catastrophizing is a terrible affliction! What if, what if, what if..! A woman I knew called it “little friskies syndrome,” the fear she’d be living on a park bench eating dry cat food out of a box.

    I love this blog and thank you for writing these daily posts, despite any catastrophizing you might find yourself doing!

  24. It was from one of your posts a couple of years ago that I identified catastrophizing as one of my specialities. The mildest of passing thoughts can land me, via imagination, at a funeral. I recognised the futility of these involuntary daydreams years ago and decided to write novels rather than make myself ill. Now, thanks to you, I often catch them in their infancy, label them, wave at them, laugh at myself for catastrophizing and get on with my day.

  25. Pingback: Day 1133: Shorts | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  26. Pingback: Day 2078: Preparing for the worst-case scenario | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  27. Pingback: Day 2277: Probable | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  28. Pingback: Day 3344: FEAR is Forgetting Everything’s All Right | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: