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STOP Catastrophizing

stop stress signI’m really good at catastrophizing. I’ve even ended up overdosing and in the hospital because of it. What is “catastrophizing?” It’s mental health jargon for thinking the worse thing that can happen, will happen. For me, it is a snowball rolling down a hill. One “bad” thing happens and then I think what if this then what if that ’til soon I am homeless and destitute in my mind.

I had a hard conversation with my boyfriend of 5 &1/2 years yesterday and though it didn’t go the way I wanted it to, it didn’t go far from expected. After it was all over, I started to catastrophize. Then I remembered what my amazingly smart and talented therapist told me: STOP.

She told me that when I started thinking or talking about the “what ifs” to imagine a road stop sign and simply stop. Live for today. No one knows what is going to happen in the future and her favorite – one day at a time.

I used that technique yesterday for the first time and I’ll be honest, it was helpful so I thought I’d pass it along to you, dear reader. My therapist said that she has used this technique with another client and that client went out and bought herself a replica stop sign as a reminder. I may just do the same and install it in my woman cave.

Just because something doesn’t go your way doesn’t mean the world will end. I know this. I’ve thought my world would end many times before and here I am still kickin’ and writing this blog post.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

STOP Catastrophizing

Elaina J. Martin

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APA Reference
Martin, E. (2015). STOP Catastrophizing. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Mar 2015
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