This is the first time in all of my years, I have had the nerve to say this phrase aloud. Maybe it’s because I am writing for my blog or maybe it’s because I decided to throw caution to the wind. Honestly, my anxiety has kept this phrase in check as it has been something I thought, but was not brave enough to say aloud. By saying “what’s the worst that could happen?” I thought was essentially “poking the bear” and literally begging for bad things to happen. It was so much easier secretly think it and try to control everything to produce only favorable outcomes. It is so amazing how I thought I was in control of each and every outcome in my life by doing this and not that or by saying this and not that. Would it actually be living a full life if those safe guards were actually true? I can almost say with certainty I would make up a ritual of wearing a certain pair of socks on a cloudy day because the last time I wore those socks the sun started to shine. As I was writing that sentence, I literally imagined how this could snowball into something unimaginable. How many pictures does a person take to get the perfect selfie? How many things in life do you postpone because you are waiting on the perfect time? Trying to put together the “perfect” anything can literally drive you insane. Control is just an illusion to make us think we are in charge. When we fight against what is happening instead of going with the flow, it is then when produce stress, anxiety and depression.
Catastrophic thinking is only focusing on the most irrational worst possible outcome in even the most simple situations. For example, if one of your friends did not call you today, instead of thinking they maybe busy, you think they are mad at you or maybe even hurt. Many of us have catastrophic thinking that has somehow been our guiding light throughout our journey in life. It’s like looking for directions from a broken compass. Yes, it can be viewed as a defense mechanism to protect us from harm, but just as other defense mechanisms, it can have negative effects on a person. The outcome we fear will happen will not only paralyze us, but also cause us to carry around self imposed guilt. What if they find out I am not perfect? What if they laugh at me? What if they find out I really have no idea what is going on? What if they stop loving me? What if I lose friends? What if I fail? These are all questions that come up when we think about the worst possible outcomes of any situation. Two of the most important mantras that have helped me with my thinking is taking a step back and saying to myself “whatever happens, I can cope” and “I am not the first one and I am sure I will not be the last one.” Taking a deep breath and sitting with those thoughts puts a whole new perspective on things. It is okay not to have all of your ducks in a row. It is okay to mess up. It is okay to not know the answer. It is okay to just be okay. The world will not end and the people who love you will love you flaws and all.
“Do not fear failure but rather fear not trying.”
― Roy T. Bennett