Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dealing With Grief {Part 2}

      In yesterday's post I introduced 4 healthy ways of dealing with grief and loss. Today, I will add 4 more ways to the mix. Remember that while some of these seem to only deal with grief in terms of death, grief can be a result of any sort of loss & suffering. Many of these ways I'm discussing work in helping to deal with any time of loss that you might experience.
  •            Learn to identify your “grief triggers”-certain scents, songs, TV shows, places. Weather patterns, as well as birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries, can be incredibly triggering for grief and awaken past memories. Be able to identify them and plan ahead. For instance, if you know your loved one’s birthday is nearing, plan out the day with activities and support. You can't always avoid these triggers, but if you have a plan, you can deal with them without letting them overwhelm you!
  •            Sometimes grief can move into depression. This can be difficult to distinguish, as there is an overlap in symptoms between these two things. If, after many weeks, there is still a consistent feeling of hopelessness/worthlessness, thoughts of suicide/wishing you had died with the person, inability to function, or feelings of guilt/blame for the loss, or feeling numb, then it may be important to talk to your healthcare provider or a counselor.
  •        Work on increasing your overall wellness: Choose one of the 17 components of wellness (see the Wheel of Wellness), write SMART goals, and work on that behavior. It gives you a goal, and you’ll be healthier.
  •       Engage in hobbies and activities that help you “get outside of yourself” and allow you to focus on something other then the grief for awhile.

Did you watch the wedding yesterday? Any fun plans for the weekend?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dealing With Grief {Part 1}

In this world, we WILL have trouble, suffering, and loss. That's a promise, and we can't really do much to get out of it. However, we can choose to deal with grief in either an unhealthy or a healthy way- that choice is yours. So, here is one of my first posts on dealing with grief in a healthy manner.

  1. Get Support from those close to you! It may feel selfish to lean on those around you, but it’s not. That’s what close family and friends are for! Tell people what you need from them (ex= “I need help dealing with funeral arrangements” “I just need someone to sit with me for awhile” “I would like someone to go with me while I visit his/her grave” etc…).
  2. Join a Support Group: This can be online or in person. Some find this helpful, but may not be for you.
  3. Find a counselor: Not only is this a professional who can normalize feelings, educate on grief, and give some helpful tips through your grief journey, but it also provides a safe place for your to process your experiences and feelings.
  4. Take care of yourself physically: The most tempting thing with grief is to either not eat anything or overeat, not exercise, and stay in bed or sit in front of the TV for hours. However, because there is a mind-body connection, a lack of physical health leads to a further lack in mental/emotional health. Getting up, moving, and trying to regulate your eating schedule can be healthy. Sometimes foods are difficult to eat, so try consuming liquids like Ensure to get extra nutrients that you need, protein bars, and soups. This can be easier to stomach then a ham sandwich or pot roast.   
      Ok, I don't want to overwhelm you with a long list of things today, so 'll leave it at that for today. If you have things that have helped you through the grieving process, make sure to comment! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Myths & Misconceptions of Grief & Loss {Part 2}

In yesterday's post, I introduced the idea of myths & misconceptions of grief and loss. Today I will address a few more myths & misconceptions.

  •         The goal of grief is to let go and move on with life: When you lose something, you can feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself too. This part of you may not be regained. Life will always be different, and a “new normal” develops. Again, life can have laughter and joy again, but it doesn’t go back to the way things were before the loss happened.
  •         When someone dies, grief is only felt by those closest to the person: ABSOLUTELY not true! Although it can be hard to understand, when there’s any emotional attachment to a person, even if you only met them a few times, grief can be felt. The loss of one person can also trigger you back to experiences of grief previously. There can be confusion if, for example, we hear of a death on the news of someone we've never met, and yet feel sadness or cry. This is normal and ok. Don't beat yourself up about it! 
  •      Children don't experience grief very deeply: Children may not understand in the way that adults understand or process events, but a loss can be incredibly overwhelming and confusing for a child. Make sure to talk about it, explain, and normalize different feelings for them. A child may need to grieve the loss of someone (i.e. a brother's death) at many different stages and times in life (graduation, marriage, when they become a parent, etc...). 
       Did you experience a loss of any kind as a child? If so, what did it feel like, & how did you deal with it? 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Myths & Misconceptions of Grief & Loss {Part 1}

Let's face it- lots of people like to give tips on grieving and loss, right? I'm often shocked at some of the things my clients & friends are told by well meaning co-workers, friends, and family when experiencing a loss. YIKES! Some of these myths & misconceptions can lead to a lot more pain and frustration for ourselves as we try to deal with the loss that we've experienced. Here is the first post of at least two addressing the myths & misconceptions.

  • There is one “right way” to deal with grief: There isn’t just one way to grieve. There are certainly things you can do to grieve in a healthy way, and there are things you can do to stay stuck, but there is not one right way. Grief looks different for every person and in every situation. Don't feel guilty if something someone suggests doesn't work! We're all different people with different personalities and needs! 
  •  The grieving process occurs in 5 orderly stages: Again, to characterize grief as a universal process just isn’t true. Yes, everyone may go through similar types of stages (i.e. denial, anger, depression, etc…). However, you don’t complete one stage and move to the next until you are done. Every day can bring a different experience-it’s not a checklist. And sometimes, you may experience many "stages" throughout the day. That is OK and normal! 
  •   “Time heals all wounds”: You can learn to function and enjoy moments in life without the person or thing that you lost, but the wound doesn’t completely heal. Healing also suggests that one goes back to the way things were before the event- life doesn’t go back exactly to the way things were. Grief can most certainly soften and decrease over time, with less tears and more joy. That can happen! But that doesn’t mean that sadness or tears never happen.
What are some misconceptions you've discovered about grieving? Any pieces of advice that have rubbed you the wrong way? 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mistaken Identity {Book Review}

On April 26th, a car accident happened on a highway in Indiana. 4 students and one staff member of a University were killed, while 3 staff members and one student survived. 5 weeks later, a case of mistaken identities was discovered between the student who survived, and one of the students who died.

After 5 weeks, doctors realized that it was Whitney, and not Laura, who was at the hospital, and Whitney's parents had buried "Whitney", who was actually Laura. This story follows the journey of two families, from the night of April 26, 2006, through the weeks and months following. You will rejoice and mourn with the University, and especially the two families of Whitney and Laura, as you read the book. It's a book of inspiration and hope amidst grief, confusion, and suffering. These two families have been on the Today Show and The Oprah show, and I find their story inspirational. I highly encourage you to read the book and follow along on the journey of hope these 2 families share. When I first read the book in 2008, I was awestruck by the reactions of the families, and how the campus chose to deal with the events of the accident. Check it out- you certainly won't regret it!

If you're interested in some background on the story, here are a few links:

Whitney Cerak's Blog (this is from immediately following the accident to the time Whitney returned to school a few months later)

Do you remember hearing the story of the mistaken identity? How do you deal with grief? 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

I'm so very sorry for my lack of posting this past week. I've had a few major projects that I've been working on, and this has made free time very scarce. I hope to get back to a more regular posting schedule soon. That being said, I of course couldn't miss the list of things I'm thankful for:

  • Easter Weekend: I had a long weekend, and spent some time with my family. It was fun, relaxing, and the perfect break for an incredibly hectic week for me. It was much needed!
  • The Hope & Promise in Easter: I'm so thankful for the cross and all the promises and hopes that it means in life. 
  • Spring Dresses! Ok, I understand that this may seem just a little pathetic, especially following the first two on my list. BUT, they are fun, and can help brighten my mood:) After months of the cold, snowy winter, it's finally time to break these out! So, while this isn't something of great substance, right now it warrants a spot on my list. 
  • Yoga: I like to mix pilates lessons in with yoga to create a great workout for myself. Although I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it (see my post here on this relationship). It's relaxing, helps me practice mindfulness, and I can tell that I'm developing strength from it. 
  • Life: I'm thankful for life. Sounds a little funny I guess on this list, but I'm so thankful for the chance to live and experience love, relationship, travel, and everything in between. Living is hard, for sure, but it's beautiful as well. I'm thankful for the living that I've had a chance to do. 
So, there you go. A few of the things I'm thankful for on this Monday morning. 

How was your Easter weekend? What are you thankful for today? 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

To Yoga, Or Not To Yoga

Well, despite a weekend of productivity, I am once again behind in the work that I need to get done. Because of that, my post will be short and sweet:)

One of my goals around the new year was to try a new type of fitness activity. I've done pilates for a number of years, and have always been intrigued by yoga. In January I found a free weekly yoga class in the area, and decided to check it out. I think I fell in love that first class. was more like a love-hate relationship.

You see, yoga class comes at the end of a stressful day, and for that reason, I really love it. I love knowing that at the end of it, I get to go and spend an hour relaxing and moving my body. That's the love part.

Now comes the hate: I've only taken yoga from one person, but i feel like my yoga teacher holds poses for FOREVER. At least it seems forever. The first 10-15 seconds the pose feels good, and after that I'm pretty sure the thought in my head goes something like this: AGHHHHHH....MAKE IT END. Yes, by the end of the pose I'm a shaking mess.

I can tell that I'm getting stronger, and I love feeling how my breaths move with the motions of my own body. There's something calming about that. I've also noticed that when I can't shut off my mind, I really struggle to hold the poses, and each minute seems to drag by. When I can focus on my breathing and body movement, the time just flies by.

I guess this reminds me a bit of life as a whole. I think because we are so busy, and often looking for the next "big thing" (hmm...this is reminding me a little of the post on life's tiny delights), we tend to miss a lot of little moments along the way. The whole idea of mindfulness is bringing our awareness back to the present. This is what yoga forces me to do. I hope through the practice of yoga I can continue to work on applying this to daily life as well.

In case you were wondering- my favorite poses at the moment are the warrior poses. They're fabulous and I can incorporate some of the principles of pilates from it. I think the two compliment each other nicely. So, that's my incredibly scattered and chaotic thoughts on my introduction to yoga.

Do you do yoga on a regular basis? If not, what makes you hesitant to try it? If you do, what have your experiences been, and what's your favorite pose? 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

I'm starting to get into the habit over the weekend of coming up with things that I'm thankful for in preparation for this post. Doing so has started to create a daily habit, which is the whole goal of the thankfulness project! So, without anymore comments, here are some of the things I'm thankful for today:

  • A very "checked off" to do list: Ok, so I wrote "productivity" on my list last week, so I changed the wording up a bit. But, I feel like it's fine to say this two weeks in a row. I had a fairly unplanned weekend, which was exactly what I needed! I had a long list of "to-dos" that I needed to accomplish around the house, and I got almost all of them done! I always feel more settled going into the week when I have things accomplished. 
  • Health: Allergen levels have picked up this week, and I've started to feel a little less then my best. And every time I'm tempted to complain, and remind myself how blessed I am to be only dealing with allergies. It could be much worse. 
  • "My Little Lifesaver": This sort of goes along with the above point. I've been fairly susceptible to allergens for many years, and this reaches the boiling point back in 2007. I'd experienced almost half a decade of 8-9 months a year of sinus infections, even going onto steroids to try to knock them out. The ENT said it was either this or I'd need surgery, and for the last 4 years, I haven't even had a sinus infection. It's amazing! Every morning I wake up with a sinus headache, and this is the first thing I use. Voila. No more headache!
  • My Space Heater: I think it's a little funny that "sun and heat" was on my list last week, and a space heater is on this week. It's been cold and rainy, and I don't want to turn on the heat for my whole house in April. The space heater is a much cheaper way to give a little heat to my house! And let's face feels great to come in from the pouring rain and sit down in front of it!
  • Support in Education: While I'm not in school, I am still required to continue learning and educating myself in the field of counseling, and in the issues that my clients face. We are to keep up with the current research in the field, and add various new techniques to our practice. I'm so thankful for what I learn from my other colleagues and friends in the field, and for the resources that are passed along to me! 
There you have it! Just a few of the many things that I'm thankful for at the moment. 

What was the highlight of your weekend? What are you thankful for today? 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Peanut Butter & Jelly {with chocolate} Oatmeal!

Happy Palm Sunday! When I was little, this sunday always led me to waving palm branches while walking around the church in which I grew up. It was always fun:)
On Friday my post was on life's tiny delights. Well, I thought I would share another one of my favorite little delights with you this morning: Oatmeal! I could eat it every morning, and I love finding new and different things to add to it. Well, you can imagine how excited I was to stumble on a recipe for PB& J and chocolate Oatmeal on Sarah's blog at the Strength of Faith.

I made 1.5 servings of oatmeal (to keep me going through a longer morning)
a small (1.5 teaspoons-ish) spoonful of brown sugar
A scoop of peanut butter
A scoop of raspberry jam
A small handful of lactose free chocolate chips

Delicious! It added a fun and different twist to a fairly consistent breakfast food, and I loved the added benefits of what I added. 

Do you have any fun traditions for Palm Sunday? What do you like to add to your oatmeal? 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Life's Tiny Delights

"I have never been a millionaire, but I have enjoyed a great meal, a crackling fire, a glorious sunset, a walk with a friend, a hug from a child, a cup of soup, a kiss behind the ear. There are plenty of life's tiny delights for all of us."
-- Jack Anthony

Now, I think many of us would agree that we are in better moods on Fridays and Saturdays then most days of the week. So, perhaps, this post may be ill timed, and would be better posted sometime in the middle of next week. So, how about you just remember this quote, and remind yourself of it on Wednesday:) Sometimes we got so focused on the big things in life, whether they be the positive or the negative, that we forget to focus on the little things that we are given. What if we were to focus on each of these as well? How might your life be different? Would you be a healthier individual?  
(hmm... this is reminding me a little of the Thankfulness Project ).
In that vain, here's a picture I snapped a little while ago of a delicious french pastry I bought. It was delicious, and I slowly and mindfully savored every bite.

What are some of life's tiny delights? How can you grow your mindfulness of these things in your life?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Are You Languishing or Flourishing?

Although I often talk about wellness on this blog, or at least various aspects of it, I haven't yet mentioned the word "flourishing" (click here to read my intro to the concept of wellness). 
What do you think of when you think of the word flourishing? How might you describe it to someone? More importantly, would YOU describe yourself as a flourishing individual? 

Keyes (Keyes & Haidt, 2003) has defined a spectrum (languishing to flourishing) whereby languishing is “a state in which an individual is devoid of positive emotion toward life, is not functioning well psychologically or socially, and has not been depressed during the last year” (p. 294). By this definition, someone who is languishing is not mentally healthy, but also is not experiencing mental illness. The opposite of languishing is flourishing, defined as “a state in which an individual feels positive emotion toward life and is functioning well psychologically and socially” (Keyes, 2003, p. 294). 

*As Keyes reports, only a small minority of individuals, less then 25 percent (Keyes, 2003), in the US meet the criteria for flourishing. That's less then 1 in 4 adults in the US who are flourishing. Do you find this number a little concerning? 

So what do you think? Do you fall more into the category of languishing or flourishing? What can we do to become a more flourishing individual? 

Keyes, C.L.M. & Haidt, J. (2003). Flourishing: Positive psychology 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's Not About Me!

Having healthy boundaries seem to be a big struggle in life for many  most people in the world. Because of this, I'm often looking for different ways to explain these to people, or at least give them different tools to implement boundaries (For my series on boundaries, click on this link and it will redirect you to all the other links on boundaries. For an alternative way to access my posts on boundaries, you can click the "boundary" label at the bottom of this post!)

It's important to remember: We are responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We get into problems when we try to get others to take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, or when we try to control those of others around us. That is NOT healthy. 

All of that being said, sometimes when people react poorly to us, it's hard to brush it off and let it go. Instead, it's easy to ruminate about it, and let the thought fester within us. Here's where the phrase IT'S NOT ABOUT ME comes in handy. When someone has a negative reaction, I need to go back and check myself. Was I responsible for my words or actions? If I was responsible and respectful with that, then that's all that I can do. If someone chooses to respond negatively (i.e. people will perhaps not like the boundary you've established and react angrily towards you), then that's about them and their issues. Perhaps they aren't being responsible for their feelings or actions. It's easy to take their reaction personally, which can increase frustration, stress, anxiety, or tension within you. When we take responsibility for their actions, we aren't having healthy boundaries. 

If you've checked yourself and you HAVE been responsible, appropriate, and respectful, then you can repeat "it's not about me" to yourself. This will re-direct your thoughts and will help to let the reaction of the other person go. There's no reason you need to hold onto the negative reactions of others. So remember: It's not about me... and let it go... 

What do you do to help let the negative "stuff" from others go? 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

It's Monday again, which means...THANKFUL TIME! Because this is a fairly new addition to my blog, you can see the previous posts here and here.

So here's what I'm thankful for today:

  • Chobani: Ok, yogurt has made it on to the list of things I'm thankful for. At first I thought about not including this, as it may seem a little pathetic, but it's honest. I love how delicious this is, and the health benefits that it brings. Plus, it doesn't bother my lactose intolerance at all. YUM!
  • Sunshine and heat! It got up to about 85 degrees yesterday and I spent most of the day outside, and went on a great run followed by a walk with a friend. I love the warmer weather, and not having to sit huddled in front of my space heater under blankets:)
  • Productivity: After being out of town for the last 3 weekends, I felt behind, and my apartment was getting cluttered and chaotic. Although I have yet to unpack 2 bags, I was able to get a lot of chores done, and get cooking done for the week ahead. My stress on sundays and mondays is much lower if I can get a jump start on the week.
  • Reading: I don't read enough for fun, as I always have a long list of things that I need want would like to read to help with different client cases. Although I enjoy that type of reading, it's fun to curl up with a fun novel as well!
  • Conversations in Relationships: I had a number of great conversations with friends and family over the last few days. I'm thankful for them and the laughter this brought to my life. 
What are you thankful for today? 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Fruit of the Angels"

Today was a beautiful, sunny day, and the thermometer passed 80 degrees! Needless to say, I was outside as much as possible, and when I was inside, I had my windows and patio door wide open. Now only if it would stay this way throughout the spring...

While I spent time outside (and of course got in a great workout!), I also had to do grocery shopping (is this really on the top of anyone's list of things to do? Probably...just not mine!) to accomplish. Because of the warm weather and sun, I decided to buy my first tropical fruit of the season: PAPAYA! In doing a little research on the fruit, I found out that Christopher Columbus called papaya the "fruit of the angels". Although I'm not sure the exact reason behind this, I have to believe that the texture has something to do with it.

I personally fell in love with this fruit when I was in Ecuador earlier this year. While they ate it in chunks often, they also put it into the juicer in the mornings and made fresh papaya juice. Yum!

So why papaya? It's a great source of Vitamin C, and aids in both digestive and heart health. They are also a great source of folate and dietary fiber (among other things!). I would highly suggest adding this fruit to your next shopping list! Besides eating it in "chunk form" after a meal, it's great atop cereal (or oatmeal!), ice cream, yogurt, or in smoothies!

1. This is what a papaya looks like. If it's completely green when you buy it, you'll want to keep it for a few days until it starts to turn yellow or reddish. Wash the outside of papaya before starting.

2. Cut just a little off of both ends of the papaya. Take a fruit/veggie peeler and peel the papaya. The first layer may produce a light yellowish color, so you'll need to go over it more then once. You want it to look orange, like in the picture below. 

3. After peeling the papaya, cut it in half length wise. This will produce what looks lots of seeds (like in the picture below). This is the only part that really bothers me, as the seeds sort of make my skin crawl. Take a spoon and scoop out the seeds. There is a sort of membrane that separates the seeds and the fruit, so you'll want to make sure to scoop that out as well. 

4. Place the flat side of the papaya face down on a cutting board, and cut in to chunks!

There you have it. Once you have it cut up, you can enjoy this delicious and tasty tropical fruit!

Have you ever tried papaya before? What was the highlight of you weekend? 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Facing Up To Things In My Life

― Sarah Dessen 

I love this quote! When we are in the midst of pain, suffering, or just plain awkwardness, it is much easier to turn and run away, or try to deny that it's even happening. When we choose to turn into the pain and darkness, and face it square in the face to deal with it, we become healthier individuals. More often then not, we'll get through the pain and suffering much faster, and we become strong individuals. We can say to ourselves "I survived this once, I can survive it again." When we hide, we allow that thing we are hiding from the control us, and we live in fear. It sucks the energy from us. Ultimately, we are unhealthy, and we don't develop the strength and courage needed to wrestle through the journey of life.

Obviously this is much easier said then done. From the experiences that I've had, it is incredibly difficult to face things head on and work through them. It's tempting to run away and hide, and try to force this thing under the rug. It WILL come back at some point. I cannot emphasize how important it is to face things and work through them...and ultimately, we develop strength and courage.

Do you find it easier to hide from things or to face them? Is there something in life that you need to face and work through? Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stop The Guilt Beatings!

Remember last Friday's post on Catastrophizing? Today I'm going to talk about another cognitive distortion  under the category of "should statements".

Words like "should", "ought", or "must" very often lead to a sense of guilt or shame in life. While it seems like guilt may help us produce the desired change, it is really counterproductive. We not only take away energy from doing or thinking positive and healthy things in life, but we tend to increase stress, anxiety, and depression in life as well. If nothing else, we've turned to negative thinking instead of positive and rational thinking. When we guilt beat others, we create tension in relationship, and can create stress for them as well. It's not fair to yourself, and not fair to others. Instead of guilt beating (stating things in dogmatic statements), it is healthier to state things in terms of your preferences.

Here are some examples:

  • I must go to bed by 11 pm.
    • I would like to go to bed by 11 pm as a way to further my health. 
  • I should study tonight instead of watching a movie with friends.
    • In order to meet my goals in life, I'd like to spend the evening studying.
  • I have to do a workout tonight. 
    • I'd like to get a workout in this evening. 
  • They must come to my dinner party if they consider me a good friend. 
    • I'd appreciate if my friend came to my party to support me tonight. 
  • Ugh, I really should have done more work last night. 
    • I wish I had gotten more done last night.
What do you think about the idea of guilt beatings? How might your life be different if you replaced your dogmatic demands with preference statements instead? 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

World Health Day

I'm sorry I've been so absent from my blog for the last week or so. I've been dealing with a health related issue, and am slowly getting better. Thank you for your patience in my posting schedule!

However, I did want to highlight the fact that today is World Health Day, which is put on once a year by the World Health Organization. Each year there is an identified theme, with this year's theme being Antimicrobial Resistance (drug resistance). This is creating the "superbug" that isn't phased by the drugs that have typically treated them (makes me think of bedbugs ... shudder...).  I won't spend time summarizing what the theme of this year is about-if you're interested please check out the link above!

Health is such an important aspect of our lives, and when we have it, we can fall into the trap of taking it for granted. So today, why not spend time thinking of ways you can get involved in worldwide health. How can you give back to those in the world, and help to further health initiatives? Remember, health can come in a number of categories (HIV/Aids, Cancer, Clean Water, Vaccinations, Obesity, mental health, etc...).

How can you give back to worldwide health, and help move it forward? What are your favorite health organizations?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

Remember my post last Monday on being Thankful? At least for awhile, I am thinking that I'll try to have one of these posts. It's a great way to start the week off on a healthy foot and in the right mindset. That's what's so great about the Thankfulness Project!

So here's is my Monday Thankfulness Project:

  • Time Away: I obviously wasn't quite as active on my blog or twitter this week, because I've stayed off social media a bit more then normal. I've enjoyed a few more real life conversations, and of course the spring weather! Oh, and I'm actually reading a book for fun right now:)
  • Home Cooked Meals: A home cooked meal from my mom? Yes please! I get them so rarely, so it's fun when I get the evening off from cooking!
  • Long Walks: With the sun coming out more then it was in the winter months, I've been enjoying being out in the sun more each week! 
  • Great Friends: They've been incredibly supportive this week, and have added a lot of laughter to my life!
  • Safety in Traveling: I was away for a short time this week, and it went smoothly and flight was on time! 
What are you thankful for today? 

Friday, April 1, 2011

What's The Deal With All The Catastrophizing?

Remember back a few months when I did a series on challenging cognitive distortions and irrational beliefs? If not, you may want to start from the beginning and check our my 1st and 2nd posts on identifying cognitive distortions as well! One of the cognitive distortions I see frequently is catastrophizing or awfulizing. How often do you hear (or even say) something like one of the following phrases:

  • That speech was HORRIBLE
  • I did a terrible job on that test
  • The weather is so wretched right now
  • That person is just miserable to be around
Brainstorm for a moment what this sort of speech does to yourself and to those around you. Does it dump pessimism and negativity around you? Does it decrease mood? Increase stress and anxiety? Leads you to feel like a failure? Does it lead to decreased productivity?

How many things that we label some sort of awful experience, catastrophe, or something truly terrible actually are that bad? If we use these words to describe an annoying person, a poor grade on a test, a mess up on a speech, or something like a little cold or stormy weather, what words do we have to describe things like genocide, murder, abuse, or natural disasters? 

The next time you are tempted to use an extreme word, check yourself. Is it really that awful? Can you really not survive it? Try to challenge yourself in using those words, and use a softer and more accurate word (unpleasant, upsetting, rough, difficult, etc...) word to describe the situation. 

What you can do:
  • Challenge Yourself in Using Extreme Words- Don't Catastrophize Situations!
  • Make it a game with your friends, family, or Co-workers- Check each other when you use (or catch someone using) the extreme words, and see how can find a more accurate sentence to replace it first!
What do you think the effects of Catastrophizing or making situations more terrible then they actually are? Is this easy to do?