Earlier this summer, I woke up to a phone call from my father. I took a deep breath, assuming the absolute worst, my stomach in a knot, my mind racing.
It turned out he was simply trying to coordinate something regarding a piece of furniture he had offered me for our home.
I was out of sorts afterward, and it took me awhile to regain my composure. Even though the call was completely benign (and not out of the ordinary, either, as my father has always been an early riser), I had to gather myself.
I recently learned that this is called “catastrophic thinking,” and that all of us “catastrophize” from time to time. But I was reflecting after the incident that I do not “assume the worst” in most areas of my life — I am more often cautiously optimistic — but when it comes to the wellbeing of loved ones, I magnify even the mildest of situations.
Mr. Magpie recently recommended a practice he’d read about: the next time I find myself catastrophizing, I should imagine multiple possible outcomes alongside “the worst one.” That is, instead of “Oh my gosh, Mr. Magpie is late and not answering his phone, he must have gotten into a car accident” (this does flash through my mind when he goes incommunicado for longer than anticipated), I should add: “Or maybe he’s getting gas,” “Or maybe he stopped to talk to the parents at the drop off line,” “Or maybe he popped into Whole Foods for the half and half we need,” “Or maybe he got a flat tire,” or, or, or.
What I love about this approach is that it is generative rather than disciplinary. It is not saying: “You are ridiculous, stop worrying so much,” but rather: “OK, that concern is valid, but what other non-malignant possibilities are there on the table?” And then, by virtue of having different possibilities in front of me, I can’t help but think, “OK, so just playing straight odds in this random assortment of possible explanations, there’s a 1 in 10 chance something bad happened, so let’s keep a sense of perspective.”
Do any of you struggle with this kind of thinking? What helps you?
+A year in, still on a high from my new suburban lifestyle.
+What do you do when you’re feeling “run aground“?
+On empowering my children.
Magpie will be undergoing a major glow up in the next week or two, and the site may be temporarily unavailable at some point during this time. We will be back up and running with a new look (but the same far-flung mix of posts, toggling between the freighted and the frivolous) in short order! I have wanted to shorten the name from TheFashionMagpie to Magpie for years now and cannot wait to introduce you to the new nest. In the meantime, should you encounter it, please pardon the dust.
+MAJOR Cara Cara vibes for under $200. Perfect Thanksgiving dress!
+This is my favorite texturizing spray when I’m going for beachy / loose waves. All of Oribe’s products are simply second to none.
+I have wanted one of these ACNE Studios beanies for like two years now. I don’t know why I’ve never pulled the trigger? I am regretting missing out on the hot pink one they had last year (would be perfectttt this season) but this pastel pink is calling my name…
+This popular cocktail party dress is 50% off!
+Going to do a big post on fall fashion for little girls because I spent more or less all weekend figuring out my daughter’s wardrobe for the upcoming season, but had to share that this CPC kids dress is 40% off — love this look/style for everyday wear.
+I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’m already planning to throw “A Very Kacey Christmas” Christmas party this holiday season and how perfect would this be?
+A little pick-me-up for your Harry Potter loving friend/sibling/child/etc.