Stop Awfulizing

Maybe things have not turned out as planned in a situation. It might follow that you feel dissappopinted that things went exactly how you did not intend them to go. Following this, it may be completely normal to feel sad, angry etc. It’s easy to say to yourself “I feel so sad and it is awful”. Suffering can seem intolerable and we can say to ourselves, I can’t take it, this feeling shouldn’t be happening. This way of labeling a situation or your feelings as intolerably awful has been termed “awfulizing” in Cognitive Therapy. To awfulize is to focus so much on how terrible and intolerable something is that we lose wind of the reality. This is very similar to the more common term “catastrophizing”. Start by trying to accept your darker feelings as par for the course, tolerable, OK. Instead of “I feel so sad and it is awful”, try just “I feel sad” or just feel without adding all the additional internal commentary in your thoughts. A feeling can be just that: a feeling, nothing more.  

Do not engage in beating yourself up when you’re not chipper and cheerful. You don’t have to be. You can feel down sometimes. You can feel anxious at times. It is not awful, it is acceptable, it is “just life”. The mood will pass.</p>

Live with Hope!

Marc Alter, LCSW, Licensed Psychotherapist
19 West 34th Street, Penthouse Suite

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