When thoughts of the future lead to despair

robin_williamsMy title this week is a little dramatic and yet feels fitting. This week we lost a wonderful man, Robin Williams. He added so much to the world publically and from what I’m reading privately too.

Who really knows what causes someone to take their own life? Anything I write here would be pure speculation however perhaps part of this issue is how that person sees the future.

There are varying degrees of what might be called “catastrophizing”. This is the habit of thinking about the future in terms of what could go wrong or how it might be in a negative way. As with most psychological patterns there may well be a sliding scale with on one end extreme catastrophizing through to extreme “Polly Anna” focus. (More on that later).

I have noticed in myself a habit when not focused on anything in particular for my thoughts to become almost obsessive about, in my case, small things that “could” worry me.

I start making up stories about what might happen. An example being this week when a new neighbour moved in. Their dog kept coming into our garden and despite the fact the dog seemed quite friendly I got worried about what might happen if it “attacked” my dogs.

I have noticed with my own habitual thinking patterns that I am being overly dramatic about really small things. To be clear I am far from depressed and in fact my life works really well and yet I’m still prone to these kind of thoughts.

I am curious as to how much these thoughts impact on my health, in particular my blood pressure. What about my sense of well-being and life satisfaction?

Next week I will tell you what I’ve been doing to change this pattern in my own thinking and how it’s going.

For those of you looking to the future, I will be turning this segment around into how to use future focused thinking positively in a few weeks time.

The Well Place


About Melody @ GWizlearning

Melody spent fourteen years gathering experience of the business world working in banking, telecommunications and the public sector before co-founding The GWiz Learning Partnership in 1993. Melody has a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, a degree in Psychology and a diploma in Psychotherapy. She is an NLP Master Trainer which allows her to run NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Trainer Training courses certified by the Positive School of Intrinsic Neuro-Linguistc Psychology. She is also a qualified Myers Briggs practitioner and EI practitioner and added to all this is five years Transactional Analysis training, meaning she is able to help organisations access the hidden potential in their staff. She is also in demand for her work in transforming average or even troubled teams into high performers. Melody is a visiting lecturer at University of East London, teaching "Wellbeing and Positive Psychology" to undergraduates. Additionally, she is a member of the CIPD and is ILM accredited. Melody's interests are many and varied. She has a keen interest in personal development, canine and wolf psychology, conservation, movies and running. She also enjoys western horse riding, walking the GWiz dogs, nature watching and stage combat (particularly sword fighting).
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3 Responses to When thoughts of the future lead to despair

  1. Felicity says:

    Hi Melody. Really interesting you talk about catastrophising. I’ve been doing it myself this week! I am getting married in October, and that comes with all sorts of small, niggly worries that get me panicking about all the possible things that could do wrong. But this week it was the fact that I can only take 2 days off work in the week beforehand, and already 1.5 of those days are filled with activities like getting nails done (which surely should be something to look forward to?) and shopping for the final bridesmaid outfit as my adult BM lives in Australia. This week it became a real drama that I only have half a day to sort things. But at the moment, I do not know what exactly I will need to do – perhaps nothing! I began to panic, and feel anxious to the point of nausea about all the things that could go wrong. I felt anxious about the potential that I might feel stressed and anxious in those final two days before the big day! And, like you, I know that I am being illogical because currently there is no “problem” yet I am still worried about their being a potential problem that I cannot predict! A lack of control, perhaps?

    Anyway, I found it quite a relief to read that someone else does this too, and that it’s OK to be illogical and irrational sometimes. It’s OK to worry unnecessarily. As long, of course, as it does not become prolonged and have an impact on health or wellbeing. And I am not alone in my worries!

    Thank you, Melody, lovely blog post and dedicating to Robin Williams (what an outpouring of feelings there has been for that wonderful man! And how terrible that he never can know how loved he was by the world.)

  2. I will look forward to that Melody. I too have to stop myself from worrying about what might happen in the future instead of making the most of the present. I am going to re-read Ekhart Tooles book I think.

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