It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for good outcomes.
So many things can go wrong.
And yet, so many things can turn out okay.
That part always surprises me. Why? Because I’m really quite adept at catastrophizing.
Catastrophizing – Giving greater weight to the worst possible outcome, however unlikely, or experiencing a situation as unbearable or impossible when it is just uncomfortable. ~Wikipedia
This is one of those irrational or exaggerated thought patterns or traits common to people with depression or anxiety. As you might imagine this sort of habit doesn’t really contribute to clear thinking in a crisis or even in everyday life.
This kind of thinking actually seems really logical to someone who engages in it often. It might not even seem like anything out of the ordinary to a person who thinks this way. To give you some idea of what this thinking entails I’ll paint a little picture.
Child B is fifteen minutes late arriving home from an activity. Mom (me) calls the child. No answer. The child drove, so logically in Mom’s mind, there has clearly been an accident. Mom continues to think along this line of thinking. Any minute now a police officer will show up to tell me my child has been killed in a car accident. When they tell me this I’ll collapse into a puddle. But I can’t collapse, I have to stay strong so I can tell the other children and my husband. And then, we have to plan a funeral, write an obituary. How are we going to pay for that with finances the way they are? What outfit will we dress this child in for burial? I have nothing proper to wear as a grieving mother. My other children will be so distraught one of them will probably also get in a horrific accident next week and we’ll have to go through all of this again. Child B walks through the door after a fun and innocent night out at the movies, thankfully ending this catastrophe.
Sounds silly? It happens in the minds of many people every single day.
Sometimes all it takes is hearing sirens.
Imagine when something really serious actually happens. It becomes a battle between irrational thoughts of the worst possible outcome, and logical, calm thoughts of how things can and most likely will turn out.
How do I know all this? I didn’t study psychology in college. That’s how my brain works. It’s really entertaining to my kids and MSH. I mostly have it under control; although there’s a part of my brain apparently devoted to traveling the road of the ridiculously improbable and exploring the universe of the highly unlikely. I’ve metaphorically built doors, walls, trap-doors, put up barbed wire and set out guard dogs to prevent myself from wandering these mental paths.
Humor seems the most effective deterrent. It’s like a colorful, shiny rattle distracting a toddler from sharp and dangerous things.
If I can find something to laugh about I can steer myself away from the negative thinking of catastrophe and disaster.
Good outcomes abound.
Turns out Mom’s second stroke from ten days ago is actually seizure activity originating in scar tissue from the first stroke she had last year. She’s on anti-seizure medication and improving rapidly.
Every single day so many things turn out okay. The car does start. Dinner doesn’t burn. Checks clear the bank. Kids travel safely to and from work. Medication works its magic. A stove fire gets put out in time. A stranger finds and returns a wallet. People offer help. Healing begins.
How grateful I feel today for the good things, which honestly, outnumber the bad by a huge margin.