One of the most common thinking traps we fall into is catastrophic thinking, or assuming the worst-case scenario. Automatically thinking about the worst-case scenario can lead to feeling like you’re protecting yourself from getting hurt in the future, or imagining the worst-case occurrence so you can reflect and brainstorm a survival plan — no matter what.
Dealing with the Worst Case Scenario
A sample exercise for Dealing with the Worst Case Scenario
Oftentimes, a common problem that arises with assuming the worst-case scenario is that these thoughts control you, instead of you controlling them. This causes circular thinking that can weigh you down or pull you into a rut, further affecting your mental health, ability to complete responsibilities, and more.
Examples of Worst-Case Scenario Thoughts:
- If _______ happens, someone will die.
- I will never get better.
- I’m a failure, and no one will love me.
- I will never be happy.
- I can never be fixed.
Here are some steps you can take on the path to healthier thought patterns:
- Write down any and all worst-case scenario thoughts you find yourself having, whether they are truly worst-case scenarios or not.
- Look at the thoughts from Step 1. Pick 3 that stand out that you want to address, and write those down too.
- Question each thought by asking yourself: “Are you sure the thought is true or will happen?” | “Is there any evidence it is true or not true?” | “Is the thought more rooted in your feelings or reality?” | “If it is reality, are you able to cope with it? Have you coped with it before?”
- Looking at the thoughts above, reframe your negative thoughts by brainstorming what you need to tell yourself in order to feel better.
- Write down these reframed thoughts and put them in a place where you are most likely to struggle with worst-case scenarios. Examples include by your bed, in the bathroom, in your car, on your phone, or in a journal.