One of the things your mind automatically does when it is stressed is try to consider many possible outcomes of the stressful or threatening situation. You sort through all the awful things that could happen to you or to the people you care about. This type of “catastrophic thinking” is called worrying. It’s the brain’s way of ensuring that nothing can take you by surprise – an important advantage for prehistoric humans, although nowadays worrying usually creates more distress than it prevents.
Imagine that an important project at work isn’t going so well. You feel stressed and start thinking how the boss will respond. Will you get a negative evaluation? Will it affect your salary or that promotion you were hoping for? Could you even be fired? Will you be able to find another job? How will you support your family? What will your friends and family think? When you feel bothered or troubled about a stressor and you can’t seem to get your mind off it, you’re probably worrying. [Read more…] about Worrying or Catastrophic Thinking