I first read this term last week and it has stuck with me. I am guilty of awfulizing at the best of times. I am an expert at taking a simple set of circumstances and extrapolating to an unrealistic and unsettling outcome. As I scrolled through the news updates, listened to podcasts, and otherwise consumed up-to-the-minute updates on COVID-19 over the last two weeks I found myself in the downward spiral of awfulizing. The more I thought about how bad things are now and are expected to become the worse the inner turmoil became.
This is a challenging time for everyone I know. We are united by concerns over health, the state of the economy, children’s education, and whether or not there will be enough supplies at the grocery store. Typically, when disaster strikes, communities gather together to support each other. This is how we work through difficult circumstances and also celebrate overcoming obstacles. We are now challenged by facing this uncertainty and dread in isolation.
I am now challenging myself to readjust my mindset. I am a fan of Brene Brown’s work, especially what she refers to as the “rumble”. I constantly remind myself to call on the language I learned from her work, to dig deeper into the story I tell myself about a situation. While her work is intended to assist with having difficult conversations, I find it beneficial to work through it on my own when I catch myself awfulizing. This process helps because I can acknowledge the worst-case-scenario thoughts, then either set them aside as unproductive or create a plan to tackle and overcome them.
Day to day, even minute to minute, I remind myself to focus on the things I can control. I am most successful when I can channel my energy into practicing gratitude, compassion, and connecting with my community in new ways. It’s the best way I’ve found to resist the impulse to awfulize. As a result, I feel better and I have a more productive mindset overall.
Next time you find yourself caught up in the chaos of the moment perhaps this approach will help you, too. Three actions I take to interrupt the awfulizing are:
- Try to articulate “The story I’m telling myself right now is…”. Name it.
- Focus on the things I can control and identify how I can change/improve those things
- Write down three things I am grateful for
Do you have other tips and tricks on how to manage your mindset and connect with your community? Please share your strategies so we can confront this new challenge together. New is hard and uncomfortable but our advantage is being in this together.