CATASTROPHE AND DECATASTROPHIZING YOUR LIFE
If you’ve ever said anything remotely close to “This is the WORST day ever!” then you’ve used catastrophic language. When you look back on that day a week, month or year later nine times out of ten you wouldn’t classify it as your “worst” day ever. Going catastrophic is universal, we all do it, however, the best life managers are able to minimize their catastrophizing.
Common catastrophic terms include: horrible, starving, awful, terrible, nightmare, disaster, and worst.
Sometimes we go catastrophic over an in-the-moment event like if we lock our keys in the car. We can easily agree, in the calm of reading an article like this, that locking our keys in the car is pretty low on the major life-events scale. But what about when you’ve had three hours of sleep, you’re in fear of losing your job and one of your kids has been getting solid Fs on his report card? Think it’d be unheard of to say “Worst day ever!” Of course not.
To better manage the in-the-moment events it takes a lot of practice changing our language. In essence, you need to bring it down a notch. Instead of saying “worst” choose a different, less inflammatory word – even “bad” is better than “worst.” Instead of “awful” say “uncomfortable.” Instead of “horrible” say “difficult.” The idea isn’t to act as though whatever just happened is a day at Disney but instead NOT make whatever just happened seem as bad as a loved one being murdered.
The more often you choose the less catastrophic, less inflammatory, less panic inducing word the better you’ll get. It really is like a muscle and NOT like eye color. It gets stronger the more you use it.