A lot of great clients and students that I’ve worked with have what I like to call Doomsday Thinking. I’m pretty sure I didn’t coin that phrase.
What is doomsday thinking?
It’s basically catastrophic thinking.
In Psychology Today, Toni Bernhard J.D. writes, “The term refers to our irrational and exaggerated thoughts: thoughts that have no basis in fact, but which we believe anyway.”
Those thoughts become so big and so distorted that we get anxious.
I am a pro at doomsday thinking
I basically had these kinds of thoughts until last year.
Those negative, spiraling thoughts can become so big, so huge, that it’s almost impossible to be happy about who we are, what we’ve done, what we will do, or our life.
We forget there can be good outcomes too.
Instead, we think about all the bad potentials and build them up like super stores, giving them so much space in our thoughts that they take over.
The why is it always me syndrome.
One of my most brilliant and adorable relatives does this all the time. She gets stuck on a highway coming home from work because of a traffic jam and thinks, “Why does this always happen to me? The universe hates me.”
When in reality, she’s not alone in that traffic jam, right? It’s almost self-absorbed to think that the frustrating things are out to get you and only you.
Or, we get rejected when we send our book to an agent and think, “This is impossible. I will never get published. I am doomed to suck forever. I give up.”
When in reality, you don’t suck at all. Writing is subjective and that particular agent just wasn’t for you.
In doomsday thinking whenever something bad happens, we assume that this is the way it will always be. It isn’t.
The world is chaos and full of change.
I just was texting with one of my friends the other night and I wrote, “I bet Five-years-ago Steve would never have imagined this.”
The this was good stuff happening in his life. And he hadn’t. He hadn’t predicted any of it.
We’re all like that. I didn’t imagine I’d be where I am five years ago. That’s because change happens. Even the bad doesn’t stay always bad. We can’t predict the outcomes and all the variables even when we think we can.
Here’s the good thing about change
Since things change, it means that you don’t need to stay stuck forever. And you don’t need to stay in those negative thought patterns forever either.
Why not? It’s pretty easy to lean into your internal critic, right? But you don’t have to. You can stay calm. You can take chances and make choices and shut them up.
We all have inner critics, but we also need inner cheerleaders
I used to imagine my inner critic as John Wayne (the dead movie star/cowboy). He was so harsh on me. Always telling me to work. So, I created an inner cheerleader who turned out to be the Muppet, Grover. Yes, from Sesame Street. My brain is a weird place.
John Wayne and Grover would duel it out for supremacy in my head.
Weird! Weird! I know. But by giving an identity to that negative voice/inner critic, it helped me to recognize that doomsday thinking and shut it down so that I could take chances and risks and do things.
Allow yourself to treat challenges and projects like you’re playing
Another thing that helps is giving myself a chance to play and fail. You can do this, too.
Find something you’ve wanted to do. Start a blog? Make a video? Learn to paint? Ride your bike every morning? Make it something that excites you.
Here’s how it works:
- Give yourself a time frame. I have 30 days to do this! That sort of short timeframe.
- Schedule time into your day/week to do it.
- It helps if you have an end project. So, tell yourself what your end product will be.
- Do it.
By giving ourselves a product and a timeframe, we give ourselves a chance to try things. It doesn’t seem like a forever-worry that way and it usually shuts up our doomsday thinking and John Waynes a tiny bit.
You’ve got this. I believe in you. You need to believe in you, too.
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