How to stop believing the worst
(‘Catastrophising’ Part 2: Finding the right balance)
You can read ‘Part 1’ by clicking here
Back when I made beer for a living and Kylie Minogue was in full song for the first time, I was a fully fledged member of the brewery’s taste panel. As a brewer, which I was (honest), part of my role along with ten or so others was to decide which beers were good to go and which needed some help to make the grade. It was all a matter of finding the right balance and not believing the worst ones couldn’t make the grade.
We’d work our way through whichever brews were at a critical stage, giving some the green light and working out what to do with those that weren’t up to scratch. Mostly, everything was fine. there’d be some brews a little too dark, others too light. Some too hoppy, others not quite hoppy enough. By blending them together in the right way, we’d achieve a high level of consistency.
Every now and then, there’d be something that’d gone properly wrong. A bitter that was, well, stunningly tart. Or perhaps a lager as dark as a mild. Something so out of kilter that normal blending just wouldn’t cut it. Without a solution, the whole brew would have to be ditched. And given that excise duty was already paid, that’s not an option.
We’d search out an equally way-out but opposite brew. The really bitter bitter would get matched with a brew that had no bitterness at all. The dark lager would be matched up with an ale that was too pale. Sometimes, the only solution was to create a one-off brew. To deliberately build a beer that was an exact opposite to the problem. We’d end up with a beer that was bang on. It worked.
Little did I know that my taste panel expertise of yesteryear would lend a hand in therapy. You see, the deliberate balancing of opposites to create a more pleasing outcome is a useful skill to learn.
Let me show you how.
Here’s how to stop believing the worst
Believing the worst is always about a very-unlikely-but-still-possible negative outcome. The belief makes it feel more real and our minds confuse ‘more real’ with ‘more likely’ and we believe even more. We need to find something to counteract the spiral.
The antidote to believing the worst is to deliberately conjure up its exact opposite. To create, if you like, the positively-best-case scenario. Now, whilst we can’t actually blend these imaginings together, they do bring balance. Just follow these 3 steps.
Acknowledge the worst case outcome. It feels like a real possibility, (which it is), even though it’s pretty unlikely.
At the opposite end, there’s a just as unlikely but crazily positive possible outcome.
The real outcome lies somewhere between the worst case & best case scenarios, doesn’t it?
…and you’ve already got your ‘Plan-A’ ready in case you do need it, haven’t you? (N.B. We talked about Plan-A in the last article so if you haven’t read it yet, you can easily catch up here).
So there you go, without knowing it at the time, my mid-eighties alcohol producing self was laying the foundations for my future therapy career. Or perhaps I’m just building analogies with the benefit of hindsight.
As a wise man once said, ‘It doesn’t have to be true, it just has to be plausible’. Which it is.
And in case you hadn’t realised, there’s a bit of a mini-series building up here. But then, if you read my newsletters, you’d already know there’s a Part 3 on the way later in June. See you then, if not before, eh?
If you’d like to have a chat about how cognitive hypnotherapy helps free you from the pains of catastrophising, drop me a line here.
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