“I can’t cope”…”I’ll never get through this” ….”I can’t bear the pain”…”I can’t live without him/her!” We hear these words every day, endlessly gushing from the mouths of our favourite characters as we sit glued to the latest TV soap. In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT for short, this way of thinking is what we call “catastrophising” and it’s not just limited to Kat from Eastenders or Kevin from ‘Corrie’, to some greater or lesser extent we all do it.
But research has shown we actually underestimate ourselves. “Things are never as bad as they seem” may seem like something you may see on a tacky card in your local gift shop or something a good friend may say to us as we are sobbing into our fourth cup of tea….but it is a fact based on fundamental human biology.
Thousands of years of evolution and a huge amount of really tough challenges like: volacanoes, famine and war, to name but a few, have made us humans incredibly good at adapting to even the most difficult circumstances. Because of millions of years of overcoming adversity we have developed a incredibly strong and robust psychological immune system. This is very good news as what this means to you and me is that our problems never hits us quite as hard or for as long as we originally think. Phew what a relief!
In fact research has shown that after a relationship break up or being told we’re being made redundant, we humans actually over-estimate how unhappy it will make us feel and for how long we’re going to feel that way. In short we fall victim to what’s known as “IMMUNE NEGLECT” meaning we constantly forget how good our very own psychological immune system is at helping us to get over adversity.
So the next time we think ‘ I’ll never get through this’ , let’s leave the endless suffering to those addictive characters we love watching so avidly and instead let’s all say to ourselves “You know…perhaps I shouldn’t underestimate myself so much”