Some years ago, I wrote a column about a concept I like to refer to as “horrible-izing”. If you do not recall this column, or you are not familiar with the idea of horrible-izing, it can be defined as one’s tendency to focus on the worst of

For example, a person may be engaging in the act of horrible-izing if they overemphasize the negative side of life. Likewise, those that horrible-ize are those that tend to perseverate, ruminate, and cannot help themselves but to worry about worst possible outcomes, the dreaded “what ifs”, and may even view undesirable situations as the “end of the world”.

If we are honest with ourselves, most of us must admit that we horrible-ize from time to time, particularly when we are feeling anxious about an upcoming situation or have encountered troublesome circumstances. When this happens, we fall into the trap of thinking about how badly things might go, how awful it would be for us if these events actually did occur, and we forget to take it one step further and consider what we might actually do should these things really take place. We might even get so wrapped up in this catastrophic thinking that we convince ourselves that our life might even be forever altered in some devastating way.

With this definition in mind, take a moment to think about something in your life that is upsetting or unsettling to you. Perhaps you are facing a transition in a relationship and you are unsure of how to move forward. Perhaps you have committed to something that you are now rethinking. Perhaps you have recently encountered a situation in life that you are unsure of how to handle. Or, perhaps, you tend to experience smaller triggers on a more regular basis and you have become accustomed to feeling reactive, tightly wound, or shaken

Or, maybe, something entirely different has come to mind

Regardless of what came to mind, reflect on how you think about those things, and take a moment to horrible-ize. Think about the worst of the worst, and sit with those thoughts.

As you reflect on your thoughts, I am willing to bet that you stopped short at the worst case scenario, going no further to imagine how you would actually deal with these circumstances or what other alternatives may actually take place. And if that is the case, I would like to challenge you to change your thinking. Rather than focusing on the bad things that could happen, take one step beyond these thoughts and ask yourself, “And then what?” How you might live through and overcome such obstacles? If you tend to horrible-ize, make this your new habit. Rather than obsessing about the possibility of something bad happening, ask yourself how probable it is that your worries come true, and consider how life would actually look should these things happen. How might you live through such terrible circumstances? What would life be like then? And, would it really be so bad? And finally, which of these thought processes would you rather invest your energies in to, remembering that your thoughts and your perspective on life will always be your choice.

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