Dealing with Catastrophizing

In the past week, I was in conversation with a business owner who is planning to scale the business and needs to bring in investors to help fund the business as it scales.   In these circumstances, the business owner was seeking my help in how to approach an angel investor about investing in the business.

As the conversation continued, the business owner disclosed he had a previous relationship with that angel investor and in his view, that relationship did not end well.  As a result, he was reluctant to approach that angel investor as he feared that the approach would be rejected outright.

I explained he was only assuming how that investor will react to the approach – being faced with an unknown he was expecting the worst possible outcome – rejection!

There is a name for this feeling:  catastrophizing

Catastrophizing is incredibly common as studies have shown up to 70% of human thoughts are negative.  The problem is, therefore, not that we have catastrophic thoughts but that we buy into them.  We believe our own stories, even though no actual threat is present.

Here are the strategies I use when I start catastrophizing:

  1.   I recognize and acknowledge the negative thoughts and the outcome being predicted
  2.   I stop and ask questions to validate whether there are any alternative outcomes to one I am predicting
  3.   I reflect on past hardships I have come through which gives me faith I will  be able to  deal with the current challenges

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