Do You Catastrophize Away Success?

When things are working well for us in our lives–at home or at work–sometimes we just can’t believe it, and start to cast doubt it will last. We may think “Wow, things are going really good right now!” followed shortly by “this can’t last, something’s going to go wrong.” The next thing we know, we are obsessed with stopping that bad thing from happening and our fixation on the negative kills the happiness we were feeling. Pretty much ensuring something IS going to happen.

If we have success and immediately feel the dread of what’s going to happen next, we just might replace the elation of success with a feeling of impending doom. We don’t want to repeat that feeling and so we dampen or discount the success and discourage ourselves from having more of that. This is sometimes called catastrophizing- seeing only the doom and gloom in anticipation of the (not necessarily gonna happen ) failure. Negativity takes over and kills all the joy we could have.

We can change that. We can see negativity for what it is. When we have a success, we can allow ourselves to celebrate it, and when we catch ourselves catastrophizing once again we can name it. Oh, I’m making this a catastrophe instead of appreciating my good fortune.  Oh, there’s negativity again, that’s not celebrating!

Then we can quietly, kindly, and calmly bring our mind back to the thing we are celebrating and allow ourselves to fully feel it. We can nourish ourselves with the feeling of success and prepare our minds to be ready for more success. New opportunities appear as if by magic because we are taking care to nourish ourselves.

This is about mindset. Not that kind of mindset where we ignore reality and pretend everything is going to be OK. This is the kind of mindset where we recognize what happens in our lives and consciously choose to celebrate the opportunities and successes that lead us in the direction we want to go.

What about the negative? We recognize that too and then ask the question “What does this have to teach me?” without dwelling on the negative feeling or emotions.  

The saying “Neurons that wire together fire together” is hugely important here. When we consistently see the connection between positive experiences and ourselves, we gain a new lease on our own happiness.

Celebrating our success is a way to ensure we have more success. If it feels good, we will naturally want more of it.

So when success happens, give yourself a few moments, or even just a single breath, to let it soak in. To appreciate how it feels and connect success with the pleasure you feel in that moment.

When there’s a failure, or a negative experience simply acknowledge it. Ask yourself, what is the lesson here? Now give yourself a moment to evaluate the lesson and what you can learn from it? How can you take that lesson and use it to move toward a new success? How will it feel when you learn and turn your knowledge into another success? Give a moment for that feeling of learning the lesson to sink in. Now you’re able to keep moving forward to the next challenge.

How do you celebrate your successes?

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