It is easy and normal to become overwhelmed with cognitive distortions or irrational thoughts. These irrational thoughts have the power to influence how we think and thus feel which can lead to “catastrophizing”. What these thoughts do not know, is that we have the power to “decatastrophize”. “Decatastrophizing” is basically strategic self-talk to help question and break down these irrational thoughts that you may believe to be true.
Breaking this down to a simple tool that my clients can utilize has been proven to be helpful. The next time you find yourself in a cycle of irrational thoughts and believing the most exaggerated and negative thought to be true, take a minute and try these next few steps.
By now you have the most exaggerated irrational thought at the forefront of your mind. Simply start by self-talk. Actively telling yourself to “pause” and begin to question your thoughts. Next, ask yourself, “what is the worst possible outcome?”, this is easy as this is what you have been thinking. Then, ask yourself, “what is the best possible outcome?”. This step may be challenging as you have been stuck thinking the complete opposite. Allow yourself the challenge of thinking in the positive. Lastly, ask yourself, “what is the most realistic outcome?”. By this point, the self-talk has helped you calm yourself, your thinking, and outlook. You have now challenged the irrational thoughts and are able to think logically.
As I am not with my clients 24/7, it is important for me to send my clients off in their daily lives with tools to help them cope and navigate their stress and anxiety.