Is It REALLY a Catastrophe?

15 Dec


How many of you read Facebook posts right before the Presidential election that warned of “complete destruction,” “the end of America,” or “absolute disaster” should one or the other candidate win. I, for one, couldn’t log onto my account without seeing at least five a day!

For me, reading these dire predictions brought up something I work on with clients all the time: Catastrophizing.

Basically, catastrophizing is the act of viewing current or future events or conditions in a distorted way, so the event seems much worse than is reasonable. For the person who catastrophizes events, a relatively small problem is blown WAY out of proportion. catastrophizing

When it comes to conflict, dealing with someone who catastrophizes events can be difficult, at best. For you, the conflict may be minor (your coworker is upset you didn’t compliment her hair today). But, for the other party, the conflict is reflective of a much larger problem (she didn’t compliment my hair today. She must hate me. In fact, everyone must hate me).

So, what to do when you have conflict with someone who catastrophizes? It’s best to hear them out, have empathy for what SEEMS like a huge problem, and let them know you understand their pain. But, after empathizing, help them understand the true scope of the problem — ask them to provide evidence the problem is as big as it seems (usually, they can’t).

In this –well– volatile political environment, it’s easy to hear those who catastrophize world events… those with more reasonable views aren’t quite as loud. But, remember that logic and evidence will likely point to a more reasonable view of what’s happened. And, if you’re prone to catastrophizing, it’s time to bring it down a notch!




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