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I could write horror novels. Really scary ones that have twists and turns that keep you awake at night. The kind that get opted for screenplays and turned into terrifying movies that haunt teenagers and young adults. These are the thoughts that run through my head daily. I am a magician at taking any scenario and turning it into the absolute worst outcome there could be. It’s even worse when it comes to my husband and children. I cannot even tell you how many times they have met with their demise or had a terrible disease.
Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. Due to anxiety, I live in a world of irrational fears. These irrational fears cause me to catastrophize situations, which in turn, causes more anxiety. Fear is a vicious cycle. But there are ways to handle decatastrophizing and calm the fear.
What are you in fear of?
Put words to your fear. Write it down and face it. Sometimes just writing it down is the hardest part because it makes it real.
Now, ask yourself, “what’s the likelihood this fear will come true”? Based on your past experiences, answer this truthfully and list out examples that confirms this fear.
Okay, let’s say your worry/fear actually does come true. Let’s break it down and look at all the “what ifs”.
What is the absolute worst that could happen? Write that down and be detailed about it. You’ve had the thoughts, now, put them in writing. Facing them on paper is different than hearing them in your head.
What is probably going to happen? Use your common sense (that is usually no-existent when decatastrophizing thoughts start) and write down (based on past experiences) what most likely will happen. This should start to calm those fears a bit. This can be grounding for the anxiety.
What is the best that could happen? If you were able to make it happen, how would you let these worries play out? What would make things all better? Give the goods things a voice too!
Make a Plan
Now that you have three ideas of what could occur, make a plan for how you can react in each situation. Facing the worst case scenario may seem scary and overwhelming at first. You have to actually think about the reality of these things coming true. But, you take back your power over this fear by creating a plan to tackle it. List out all the ways you can deal with this scenario from start to finish. Will you be mentally exhausted? Will you need some down time? Will you need help from others? Who will those people?
The most likely situation should make you more at ease after facing the worst. This is what you are probably going to deal with based on past experiences and what you know. This plan is what you should be prepared for. Write it out and look over it. Does it look familiar? Have you experienced or handled this before? How did it turn out in the past? Are there things you need to change from how you have reacted to this fear before? Make those changes in your plan.
The best for last! This is the most hopeful scenario or what you really want to happen. It COULD happen! Make a plan for how this could impact you and what you would do if things turn out this way. Having some hope in a fearful situation can help calm the fears.
Facing the Fear
You’ve now faced your fear. You wrote it down, made it real and created a plan. How do you feel now? You CAN do this. You CAN handle this worry. Talk to the people you put in your plan and let them know how they can support you. Rest easy knowing that you have already face the worst, the likely and the best situations. Feel confident in your plan and go do something fun!
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