Are you jumping to the worst-case scenario?

I talk a lot in therapy about the impact that our thoughts can have on our mental health. One type of thought that often contributes to feelings of anxiety or low mood are anxious predictions about the future. 

Anxious predictions usually contain biases which feed into a sense of uncertainty or dread which, over time, can contribute to feelings of chronic anxiety or depression. 

Here are a few examples of some common anxious predictions:

– Overestimating the chance that something bad will happen. We often jump to the worst-case scenario and assume the worst will happen when, in actual fact, usually it doesn’t and, if it does, we’re usually more able to cope with it than we think.

-Overestimating how bad it will be if something bad does happen. Anxious predictions rarely assume that, if something bad does happen, it will be a momentary inconvenience which can be quickly rectified and life will go on. Instead we tend to assume that if a bad thing does happen, it will be a complete personal disaster.

-Underestimating personal resources to deal with the worst, if it does happen. Often when we’re anxious we assume that if the worst should happen, we won’t be able to cope with it and our life will crumble around us and there’s nothing we can do to make it manageable. In fact, we’re often much more resilient than we predict!

-Underestimating outside resources. We also tend to underestimate things outside of ourselves that might improve our situation. Support from friends, family, colleagues, healthcare professionals and other care systems often play a vital role in helping us through situations which seem overwhelming.

Put a few of those predictions together and you’ve got a perfect recipe for ongoing fear and anxiety! If any of those predictions felt familiar to you, why not try to notice the next time you might be making an anxious prediction and check its validity. Ask yourself if your anxious predictions are holding you back from living your life the way you want to and, if so, consider what changes you could make to overcome this. I help lots of people in therapy to start noticing the type of anxious thoughts they might be having and developing strategies to help manage these more effectively. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if this sounds like something you could use some help with!

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