My assistant was sure she was going to lose her job because she told me she disagreed with certain office procedures. She imagined a catastrophe. She noticed a small gesture and intuited that I was angry at her. She concluded (erroneously) that she had done something wrong and would be fired.

One way to cope with this common tendency to imagine the worst possible outcome (I call it “catastrophizing”) is to learn to deliberately sort out your facts, feelings, and tentative conclusions.

Facts are events that anyone can observe: a facial expression, someone carrying a specific package, a delayed answer to a question, a late arrival, etc.

Feelings are your internal responses when you notice these facts. Muscles may tighten, your stomach gets butterflies, eyes may tear, your knees weaken. Everyone responds differently. The different physical sensations represent emotions such as joy, anger, fear, or sadness.

Often you feel these emotions because you have prematurely reached a conclusion about observed facts. Conclusions like she doesn‘t like me, I‘m bad, I can‘t have what I really want, I have to go away, are unfortunately very common.

Anytime you reach a conclusion like this, which is usually followed almost instantly with a body feeling and negative emotion, you can break the cycle! Ask yourself what are the facts? What did I actually observe? What did I conclude? What are three other possible conclusions I could make about these facts?

Stretching for possible conclusions is acceptable — like a late friend being kidnapped by aliens — this is just to stretch your thinking. Now make a guess about the probable accuracy of each conclusion.

You‘ll probably feel differently by the time you‘re done. Then you can investigate further and learn which of your hypotheses is correct.
Is this you? “I don’t need therapy, but I could use some advice about…”
[tags]Self Help, Self-Improvement,Personal Growth,Emotional Problems[/tags]