On Words: Catastrophizing


to view or talk about (an event or situation) as worse than it actually is, or as if it were a catastrophe 


The new Trump Administration is to take the reigns of governance on Friday. Many are happy. Trump supporters are besides themselves will glee. They think that somehow everything will now be different. I suspect they may be right. But the question is different to what benefit? Or different at what cost?

On the other hand, many citizens are beyond upset. They see within Trump the antiChrist. Someone who is so crazy that it will lead to WW3, to genocide (as if the Syrian War and resulting genocide didn’t happen over the course of the Obama administration), reactionary policies, and a general return to a time when more than half of the country’s population were not full-fledged members of society.

These prophets of doom see within the borders of the USA the breakdown of humanity, of civilization, of our entire way of life. They lament the end of freedom, of democracy, and the Constitution. They see the total destruction of law and order. It’s the barbarians at the gates of Rome all over again

Catastrophizing to say the least.

In today’s climate we have a tendency to see things in absolutes. We see our side of the aisle as the righteous and the way forward. We have “otherized” those with whom we disagree to the point that compromise is unthinkable. Responding appropriately is seen as normalizing the abnormal. Nastiness, and derision, is how we deal with objectionable material.

Now granted there are things in life on which we do not, and should not, compromise. We can start with the ten commandments as emblematic of the right way to begin to behave, and go from there. We can point to civil rights laws, and human rights declarations, as the appropriate and actual way, for how a society needs to function.

But when events or ideas do not go our way, or materialize into fruition, it does not mean that all hope is lost, and that Armageddon is right around the corner. Seriously, society needs to get a grip on reality.

The interesting sociological perspective about catastrophizing isn’t that it is new. It wasn’t just invented because of the Trump win. When Obama was elected, and reelected,  out of the wood work you heard the loud thunder of the threat of the  hellspawn being brought to bear on the United States. Life was supposed to go down the rabbit hole, and all was lost as we moved our nation onto a decidedly unAmerican path.

Our nation was supposed to be changed and changed forever.

We were told that you wouldn’t even notice it. It would be so subtle, that the wool would be brought over your eyes. That you would be glad, and thankful, for the changes. You would relish your freedoms were being curtailed (suddenly the Patriot Act was an Obama invention not a republican one). That what our founding fathers designed for this country was being rewritten as a socialist, nay communist, take over of the fruits of our labor.

Psychologists say that catastrophizing is a mental disorder that plays upon our anxiety. It is made worse, by the constant 24 hour news cycle, that has nothing else to do but create problems, nonsense, and issues so that you click onto their channel to pay attention to their meandering minds. Upping their advertising revenues along the way. This anxiety feeds unto itself, creating a depression, a sense of hopelessness, and outright despair.

Sadly, both sides catastrophize when we don’t get our way instead of looking to work toward a common goal and outcome. It’s as if our entire nation is made up of spoiled toddlers, who tantrum because they don’t get what they want, when they want it. Seems Trump is more characteristic of who we are at times, than we would like to admit.

Tell me, what is the alternative to having to deal with the reality of what is going to be?

Are you going to remove yourself from the political machinations?

Are you going to hide your head and refuse to pay attention to the world?

Are you going to let others decide your future, your children’s future, and what is to become of our country?


Then deal with the reality.

Stop catastrophizing.

Understand how your bubble effects your world view, and how it effected the outcome of this election.

In a way, it is important to acknowledge your own perspectives, especially as a writer. Your job requires you to think beyond yourself, and see issues from many sides, angled and developments. Your job is to be able to argue what may be indefensible in your own life, but which may be important to a character in your story.

So think of life as a story.

A real story, but a story nonetheless.

How do you want your story written?

What do you want them to say about you?

Do you want to be seen as strong?

Or should you be seen as someone who catastrophized world events, and that you did not stand up for the truth, and for what is right?

Step back…..

Take a real look…..

Then go forward and be proud of your story…..

About Elise "Ronan"

#JewishandProud ...
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