Article by Laura Gutierrez, LPC
Moving forward into this new year our most powerful allies are hope and faith. They are key ingredients to resilient living, and both are critical in helping us get through tough times. Hope is the wind beneath our wings that carries us forward through the hard times until we land at our next stop. Faith allows us to feel the “calm after the storm” during the storm. Faith and hope are the antidotes of fear. They allow us to face challenges with more ease and help us feel a sense of peace in the middle of uncertainty.
Fear protects us, but it can also cripple and weaken us. It can steal our peace and our ability to feel joy, robbing us of our present. How can we keep fear in check and make it work for us and not against us? Part of the answer lies in hope and faith. They are your allies so welcome them both aboard and let them be your co-pilots as you navigate this turbulent flight that will take you where you need to be. Hope and faith allow us to focus more on the things in our life that are going right and help us practice gratitude. It is also important to acknowledge negative emotions and let ourselves feel them when they arise, but we must always reunite with our allies hope and faith. They are our friends and keep us afloat.
Catastrophic Thinking, the Enemy of Hope
Catastrophic thinking is a type of cognitive distortion human beings are more likely to engage in during times of stress or crisis. People who struggle with anxiety are more prone to this cognitive distortion and have a harder time shifting out of it. Catastrophic thinking can be defined as ruminating about worst-case outcomes. Initially, thinking about worst case scenarios can help you prepare and be beneficial, but this can quickly become maladaptive and undermine your mental health. Uncertain times is the birthplace of catastrophic thinking.
How to Combat Catastrophic Thinking
- Surround yourself by information that challenges the thoughts that are putting you into a state of fear. This can be as simple as reading an article or book about someone who has overcome a lot of challenges and gotten through hard times, a story that nourishes your spirit and uplifts you. You can also make it a habit to read a different quote daily that inspires you for 3 months and see how that impacts you over time. Last, you can research other points of view that challenge how you think if your thoughts are leading to catastrophic thinking.
- Living your life worrying about something that has not happened yet will make you sick over time. It is natural to worry initially when you hear something concerning, but it is not natural or healthy to turn that into your new way of life. Make a commitment daily to not live in fear and to be in the moment. Catch yourself when you engage in catastrophic thinking and say to yourself, “I release this fear. I choose to nourish the hopeful side of me instead.” Each time you catch yourself in this habit it is an opportunity to practice letting go of your fear and re-centering your mind and body to the present moment. This is also an opportunity to nourish the emotions of hope and faith and to make them stronger. Overtime, this habit will have a positive impact on your well-being and your life.
- Download the Tapping Solutions on your phone. Tapping Solutions is an application that walks you through the Emotional Freedom Technique. This technique will help you shift your mind and body to a more positive place when you feel tense, irritable, sad, worried, and get stuck in these negative emotional states.