Thursday, September 7, 2017

Overreaction: Putting Things in Perspective with Gratitude

Most people have heard of catastrophizing but sometimes the prevalence of catastrophizing can be overlooked. For anyone who doesn’t know what it means to catastrophize, here is one simple definition:
Catastrophize – verb: To view or talk about an event or situation as worse than it actually is, or as if it was a catastrophe

Just about everyone catastrophizes at one time or another. Catastrophic thinking (thinking that something is worse than it really is) often results in an emotional or behavioral overreaction. A simple example that many people have witnessed is to view the common reaction someone may display when they drop their food.

Depending upon how hungry you may feel, dropping the food you that you think you may be about to enjoy can bring about a catastrophic overreaction.

Fortunately many of us have strengths when it comes to preventing overreaction as there are likely some things that we can handle calmly without losing control of words or emotions. Still it is important to be self-aware of life areas which may provoke an overreaction that we may later regret. When we increase our self-awareness of these sensitive triggers for catastrophizing, this can help us to know ahead of time to take a step back and cool down before going overboard with our reaction.

Question for Discussion – What was one time when you may have catastrophized a situation in your own mind (blew it out of proportion) that resulted in an overreaction that you later regretted?:
“I was sitting in my car in traffic at a red light not paying attention and then someone behind me beeped their horn to tell me the light turned green because I wasn’t moving but instead of just going forward I immediately started screaming and cursing out the window and then I realized it was my kid’s school teacher in the car behind me”

We all have sensitive areas where we may be prone to overreacting. 
Discuss the following:
Being forced to waitSome people are naturally patient and can calmly wait, but others may freak out when lines or wait times are much longer than expected – How about you?

Listening to others opinions: Can you calmly handle listening to someone outwardly profess views that you strongly disagree with or do you find yourself losing your cool and wanting to argue or fight?

Criticism – Can you accept being told that you did something wrong, without getting overly upset, sad, defensive or angry?

RejectionHow are you at handling disappointing situations like breakups, not getting a highly desired job after an interview, failing a test, etc.? Does it ever feel like it’s the end of the world in those instances?

Other: Honestly using your own perceptive powers of insight and self-awareness, identify any other situations or life areas which you may overreact and share them with the group

“It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it” 
(Hans Selye, Endocrinologist)

What is the solution for dealing with catastrophizing? There are several ways to keep oneself from catastrophizing. Some of these include: Getting the right amount of sleep, rest and exercise, practicing acceptance and optimism (looking at the bright side especially in a seemingly negative situation.)

Another excellent way to deal with catastrophizing is “Putting things in perspective” which is the follow up group exercise for this topic:

Click this link to get a printable format of this article plus much more for group therapy discussion and activities on this topic of:

Overreaction: Putting Things in Perspective with Gratitude - Downloadable PDF format for group therapy with bonus group materials