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Catastrophizing? Envision Into the Future
When you just can't visualize something going well, skip ahead mentally
I was catastrophizing yesterday. I was dreading something I decided I wanted to do today. I knew I was making it larger than it would end up being. But I worried anyway.
Flipping Thoughts Around
I started to flip the way I was thinking about it towards the end of the night. When I would think about it getting closer and closer to the time when I would have to go, I would stop myself, turn it around and say to myself, “I’m getting closer and closer to having it be over with.” That was true too.
I knew it would be easier than I was making it out to be, and it was. And last night as the time ticked down, I was getting closer and closer to it being over with. That change in perspective may have helped me to fall asleep.
I dreamt about it though. I was concerned with it so much that I literally dreamt about it. It went a lot better than I was thinking it would. Of course, it did. I knew I was catastrophizing. Knowledge doesn’t always mean you don’t have negative feelings of worry at all. It just means you can better understand it and, perhaps, switch your mind to more positive thoughts.
Rather than think, “It’s getting closer to this thing I’m worried about,” I switched my conscious thoughts to, “It’s getting closer to being done with this thing I was worried about.” This reminded me of something I have been meaning to write about.
When You Can’t Visualize It Going Well
So often we get stuck with worry about an upcoming event. People stress out about presentations, speeches, tough conversations, etc. I can tell you all to simply visualize those going extremely well. But sometimes that is just too difficult to do. If you think it will be a disaster, you may have absolutely no idea of the different ways that it could play out well.
This is often true of the big worries also. People were afraid of COVID, people are afraid of legislation against and for transgender surgeries for children, or even “climate change.” These are large tough issues that absolutely terrify people. When you’re terrified you cannot think clearly about all the ways in which things will go ok.
Fast Forward Visualizations
A Few Hours Ahead
So what do you do if you cannot visualize something going okay? Fast forward in your mind to past that event. In the case of what I was concerned with last night, I was mentally fast-forwarding to right after it was over. That’s not a huge jump into the future. It worked for me well enough on this issue.
A Few Months Ahead
But you can fast forward mentally farther than that. If you’re concerned with how you’re going to pass a test in a class, you can fast forward to the end of the school year (or semester). If you visualize yourself leaving the class with a great grade, it encompasses you doing well on the test. And it will be much easier to visualize when you’re going more general, rather than the very specifics of how you will pass this test.
A Few Years Ahead
If you’re really worried about finding a mate, you may not want to visualize the specifics of how you found one, because your mind will come up with excuses for how unlikely that would be. If you fast forward to visualizing going to a movie with a long-term mate or even visualize being married and settling in for the night, you will have much less resistant thoughts concerning it.
Envisioning Your Deathbed
I was worried about how to solve my medical mysteries and I’m flummoxed at times. Focusing on the specifics is obviously not working. One exercise I did was to meditate and let go of my concerns and worries (if even just for a few minutes) and visualized myself letting go of life. I was thinking about what it would be like to die and release all of these worries and resistant thoughts and no longer feel pain.
I am not worried about death because of my beliefs. And I one-hundred percent believe that there would be relief in letting go of the pain. And I believe to mentally experience that relief for a moment would help me to attract that painlessness easier.
NOTE: If you’re afraid of death or have issues with suicidal ideation, I don’t know that this particular exercise would help that much or at all.
Envision The Future Generally
My point is that you can envision the future going better, more relaxed, happy, etc. from a more general point of view. It can be easier to imagine a general feeling than to imagine a successful specific situation going well when you are all tied up emotionally in it. So if you have trouble envisioning something going well, try jumping farther into the future with it.
That said, if you’re really stressed, meditation is usually the best option to let go of those thoughts. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it (obviously if I even dreamed about it). So I had to do something with my thoughts to make me feel better.
My intent is to give people tips and tricks to help them through tough situations in life. May as well try what we can and see what sticks. What works for one person may not work for another. So do what you can to help yourself figure out what works for you.
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