Creating Clarity From Catastrophizing

Woman smiling in city
We are all prone to a flair for the dramatic now and then. The problem arises when we take our drama a little too seriously. Using words and phrases that make a situation more grandiose than it is, generalizes experience that is unique, and exaggerates the details actually skew our perception of reality. Occasionally, these statements are understandable and even funny. Eventually, they become problematic as we fall into a habit of catastrophizing.


A catastrophe is defined as “an event causing great and often sudden damage or suffering”. Catastrophizing is a form of behavior in which we make something much bigger than it is or predict that something much greater than what is happening is actually happening. Rather than be in acceptance in the present moment, we are tormenting ourselves with an internal dialogue of a horror story. Instead of create hope and optimism, we become critical and pessimistic. Catastrophizing is a form of closed-mindedness, which for addicts and alcoholics in recovery is a slippery slope.


Word choice is a practice in cognitive behavioral therapy because it is a method for reframing our thoughts. When we tell ourselves we will never be able to get a job because everybody thinks we aren’t worth hiring, we set ourselves up for failure. Catastrophizing is a choice. We choose to put ourselves in the mindset of catastrophe and inevitability. It’s a limiting and debilitating habit that can be hard to break. Through therapy and the development of emotional regulation skills, we can stop catastrophizing and start gaining clarity.


First, it is important for us to be specific and articulate about our fears. Colorful depictions of a future that hasn’t happened yet only worsens our fears. Staying away from the present moment makes ignoring the reality of the present easier. Talking about our feelings and fears specifically helps us stay grounded in the present instead of running off into the catastrophic future of our nightmares. The more realistic we can be with ourselves regarding our feelings the more grounded in the present we can be.


Second, we have to take care of ourselves so that we have the energy and endurance to cope with the symptoms of reality we are avoiding. Rest, diet, and exercise, helps us focus on our body and our mind in a healthy way instead of focusing on the future. Well-fed, properly exercised, and well-rested, we are less likely to catastrophize at all.


The answer to recovery is simple. Simple Recovery is an action-oriented treatment program designed to help men and women develop the skills they need for living sober. We welcome men and women seeking recovery from addiction, alcoholism, and co-occurring disorders. Call us to start your recovery today: 888-743-0490