Cognitive Distortions: What Is Catastrophizing? | Psych in 60

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What Is Catastrophizing?

Catastrophizing, or magnification, is a common cognitive distortion. This is when our mind blows things out of proportion. We tend to see the worst-case scenario in a situation without considering all of the other possibilities, especially the positive outcomes.

For example, a successful high school athlete anxiously tries out for the college team. As he nervously makes a few errors on the first day of tryouts, his thoughts automatically start thinking about being cut and not making the team. His thoughts affect his focus, emotions, and behavior and he doesn’t perform well the remainder of tryouts.

Being mindful of our thoughts can help us notice irrational ways of thinking. If you notice yourself thinking about the worst-case scenario, ask yourself, “based on the facts, how likely is this to happen?”

Also, it takes the same mental energy to think of a negative outcome as it does a positive outcome. So, shift your perspective and live mindfully.

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