My favorite cognitive distortion is, you guessed it- catastrophizing! While at times it’s a fun way to create exciting and more less than likely stories among friends, it’s also a good way to make myself feel crazy. My favorite way to catastrophize is to take a seemingly normal, everyday life event, and make it explode with flavor and energy. Usually ending in people playing along (the best), thinking I’m a liar, or just calling me dramatic.
Like that time when a coworker saved a life…and the yin and yang of the world means she had to take a life. Cueing us to imagine another coworker’s demise without a seatbelt, and the Intake team spending minimal time mourning and extra time stressing over lack of completed intakes.
Or that time when my writer friend quoted me in a 3 sentence paragraph in a wedding magazine. And I tooted my own horn, future movie roll played by Amanda Siegfried and signed autographs of Chicago Style Weddings for everyone.
Or that time I got my MSW, only to tell everyone my new life mission was to be on Dancing with the Stars via my salsa career. (Apparently when you make jokes like that, people assume you’re just a salsa dancing fool. “You’re actually not bad!” has been said to me).
Or, finally. That time I started dating again. And while a litany of SVU scenarios run through my mind, the most realistic is me jumping to the dramatic conclusions of meeting Mr. Right Now, moving in together, me selling my furniture. The inevitable break up, me crying, and now living without a plaid couch. I will miss that couch.
Therapist taught me to take the (wedding) photo off the shelf, take the picture out, and put the frame into a drawer. A far away drawer. A dusty drawer in someone else’s house. Maybe leave it on the store shelf.
That makes sense. And as a friend told me, put out a new frame. Fill my life with the pictures of what is happening now. Of the cool things, cool emotions, cool people that bring me joy. Catastrophizing makes problems larger than life. And while it’s usually a fun way to tell stories, I might need to practice reeling it in when it starts to keep me up at night. As a college roommate used to say, “Crazy in, normal out.”
But where’s the fun in that?!