I first heard the terms awfulizing and catastrophizing from Loretta Laroche, and I instantly “fell in love” with them. What a powerful set of words to distinguish something that we can do oh so automatically: take something that happened, and render it awful and/or a catastrophe. (Or a disaster; disasterphizing as a term works too.) “It rained on our vacation; our vacation was ruined and sucked.” “I stepped in mud; gods these things always happen to me!” ” The boss was terse with me; he’s such an ass, doesn’t like me, and I have to fight him every day.” “The lines were long; it took me ages to get it done and I was bored to death.” ” There was a traffic accident; other people are stupid and living here is frustrating.”
Not everything goes our way, and we won’t like everything that happens in our life.
And sometimes, there is an actual natural disaster.
We always, however, get to choose who we are going to be in the face of our circumstances. We can catastrophize, be a victim, and suffer, or we can admit it didn’t go as we planned/liked/wanted, be sad for a moment, and move on to create what’s next. This doesn’t mean being a Pollyanna – that’s just as inauthentic as awfulizing. It doesn’t mean dismissing our thoughts or feelings and making ourselves bad for having them. It doesn’t mean being completely stoic or dead to the world.
It means being present to what’s so and to our reaction, and authentically choosing the possibility that takes us where we want to go from here.