Making Mountains From Molehills Is A No No
There’s a small stain on the carpet. What if someone hacks into my computer and steals my bank details? Will I be late for work if the clocks in the house aren’t accurate? There’s a slight scratch on the car; you need to look very closely to see it, but I know it’s there.
Have you ever had these kinds of thoughts about the minutiae of your life? Have they bugged you all day—entering your head uncontrollably and Bullying you into making them the focus of your attention? Then do these ‘bullying’ thoughts drive you to start asking “What if….?” Questions. “What if the clocks are wrong?” “What if I can’t get that stain out of the carpet?” “What if my bank details are stolen?”
The interesting thing about “What if…?” questions is that they simply generate more “What if…?” questions. This carries your thinking from the detail of a minor daily issue to one of monstrously life-altering proportions. This is known as “catastrophizing” and we’ve all done it at some point in our lives, usually when we’re feeling down, anxious or just simply tired. But for many people who are chronic worriers it has become a daily pattern of thinking which is distressing and debilitating. Just imagine what it would be like to make mountains out of every little molehill in your life. It would not only make your own life seem overwhelmingly burdensome, but would also impact the lives of others around you as you seek help and reassurances about those worries that have grown from small harmless seeds into giant, threatening forests.
Here’s an interesting example that neatly captures the absurdity of catastrophizing—at least to a non-worrier. But if you are a chronic worrier, then you’ll recognize this pattern of thought, and the distress it causes—despite the rather fantastic endpoint of this chain of thought.
When people are asked what their main worry is at present. You will find that there is something about your worry that worries you?” So, for example, if someone says they are worried about their finances, you want ask “What is it that worries you about your finances?” If the person then replies “I may have to leave my home if I can’t pay the mortgage”, you then ask “What is it about leaving your home if you can’t pay the mortgage that worries you?”, and so on until the person can think of no more responses. Interestingly, chronic worries will continue with this process for much longer than non worriers—thinking up many more responses in the chain and elaborating their initial worry with more worries in the process! Non worriers tend to stop very quickly, and so don’t elaborate their worries in such a viral fashion
Listen to the experts who say by worrying you do not change anything, if anything you make it worse
permit me to ask you as we say in Nigeria..”Who Worry Help”?
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