Fallacy Of Catastrophic Expectations – 8 Insights And Tips For More Balance (2022)

7 min read

Of all the emotional fallacies that can paralyze us in life, the fallacy of catastrophic expectations is one that can be particularly debilitating to our happiness and progress.

This guide shares some valuable tips to help you become more aware of this harmful thought pattern and restore a healthier emotional balance.

In my role as a life coach, I am often helping clients to gain mastery over their negative thought patterns and emotional expression. This can make all the difference to their behavior, allowing them to thrive and enjoy more effective functioning in their day-to-day lives. 

That’s why I’m excited to share this guide with you. 

So, let’s dive in.

Fallacy Of Catastrophic Expectations
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1. What Is The Fallacy Of Catastrophic Expectations?

This is the belief that if something bad can possibly happen, it will. Essentially, it’s “thinking the worst”. Catastrophic thinking often ruminates in one’s head, meaning their negative self-talk repeats over and over, even if one’s immediate environment doesn’t call for this.

2. What Is The Link Between This Fallacy And Anxiety?

The fallacy is often a symptom of anxiety. Indeed, anxiety is defined by uncontrollable negative thought patterns looping over and over. There’s often a limited amount of evidence that these thoughts will become reality. What’s more, these negative emotions aren’t triggered by anything in the sufferer’s immediate environment.

Both create an emotional contagion, which is overwhelming and difficult to escape from. 

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3. This Fallacy Creates Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

The most harmful aspect of catastrophic expectations is that they do tend to lead to worse circumstances. Negative thoughts create negative behavior. It’s called a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, let’s say a man is planning to ask his crush on a date, but he fears being mocked or ridiculed. That guy is going to approach the woman with defensive and unassertive body language. He might find himself shaking with fear and unable to speak up. He’s certainly not going to be his most expressive and charismatic self. As such, his fear of rejection ups the chances of him being rejected.

Similarly, if one expects a romantic relationship to fail, they are going to act in suspicious and paranoid ways that’ll inevitably lead to a break-up. 

Whatever task you’re trying to perform, it’s no secret that you’re better off going in without fear holding you back. 

4. This Fallacy Drains Your Energy

It can be emotionally exhausting to constantly fret about the negative things that can potentially happen to you. If you’re spending hours ruminating on potentially negative circumstances, it’s going to drain you. That’s why they’re called debilitative feelings. 

These thought patterns will cause physiological changes, activate all your stressors and  release an ungodly amount of cortisol into your system. In the short-term, you can expect to deal with sore muscles, headaches and poor sleep among other symptoms. Over a longer period of time, you’ll be at a greater risk of suffering from serious health issues such as heart attack or stroke. 

5. This Fallacy Is Often Created To Mask Deeper Problems

A peculiar facet of human psychology is that we tend to subconsciously consume ourselves with trivial worries, rather than address the serious dilemmas in our lives. The fallacy acts as a smokescreen.

For example, we might obsess over the consequences of getting to work late as a way of avoiding exploring how our parents affected our self-esteem. We might always be thinking about not getting sick, rather than take a look at why we feel so lost in our career.

Our mind takes us to other places, so it doesn’t have to address what’s really hurting us. It’s a clever way of avoiding the worst and most painful feelings.  

Of course, it’s better to find the strength to address these root causes. By doing so, you might find the inner peace that stops your mind being plagued by other irrational thoughts.

The first step is to recognize if your mind is playing this trick on you. Do this by asking yourself: “What else would I have to think about, if I wasn’t so consumed by this problem?”

6. Presence And Taking Action Can Be A Great Tools To Help You

There’s a great quote by Lao Tzu, which says: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

By ruminating about what might happen in the future, you are stuck in a moment that doesn’t exist and may never exist. 

The key to moving past these thoughts is to focus on the present moment. The only moment to actually exist in reality. 

Mindfulness exercises are designed to shift your focus onto the present moment, rather than being stuck in your thoughts. Meditation is perhaps the most popular of these, and has an array of physical and health benefits. 

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However, in many cases, one of the best things you can do to shift your mind is to take action. 

Instead of worrying about what might happen, get started and calibrate to what actually does happen. Trust in your ability to deal with whatever the world throws at you. 

For more tips on shifting your focus into the present moment, see this list of 11 proven ways to empty your mind.     

7. What Are The 7 Emotional Fallacies?

The fallacy explored in this guide is commonly listed among six other emotional fallacies by psychological experts.

Here is the summary of the other emotional fallacies.

The Fallacy Of Approval

Those who suffer from this fallacy tend to believe that it’s vital to obtain everyone’s approval. These individuals will often sacrifice their own principles in an effort to make people like them. This type of person bases their whole personality to act a certain way that other people will like. They’re often labelled ‘people pleasers’.

This fallacy will make people anxious whenever they make the assumption that someone doesn’t approve of them. This will inevitably happen because it’s not in their control and it’s near-on impossible to be liked by everyone.

The Fallacy Of Should

Sufferers of this fallacy struggle to distinguish between how things are and how they should be. They tend to have less satisfaction with their lot in life. They tend to have a lot of anger towards the state of the world. They’re also less likely to make changes to get what they want.

The Fallacy Of Overgeneralization

This is when people focus on a single flaw as if it represents everything. You might catch these people making an assumption like: “I can’t do this homework, I’m so stupid”.

Generalisations about other groups of people can be just as harmful. For example, maybe after some conflict in his relationship, your friend concluded: “Women can’t be trusted.”

This fallacy leads people to become miserable and bitter at the world. That’s despite the fact that their assumptions are based on a limited amount of evidence.

The Fallacy Of Causation

This is based on the belief that one can control other people’s emotions. This is not based in truth either. While we can choose how we act, other people’s reactions are down to them.

This fallacy can cause us to limit our emotional expression, because we fear how others will respond.

The Fallacy Of Helplessness

This fallacy is based on a belief that one isn’t in control of their own destiny. Sufferers might believe they’re cursed with an inability to push themselves closer to the life they want.

When you speak to someone suffering from the fallacy of helplessness, they might lead to illogical conclusions such as: “I wish I wasn’t so shy, but I was born this way.”

You might hear the same excuse from the lips of a person who suffers from anger problems or some other personality disorder.

If they’re struggling with their driving lessons, they might tell you: “I can’t drive. There’s nothing I can do to learn this”.

This is their way of dodging personal responsibility. Often a person will voice their fallacy of helplessness when they’re looking for someone to complete a difficult task on their behalf.

The Fallacy Of Perfection

This fallacy of perfection is based on the idea that it’s possible to be perfect. Sufferers will do all they can to behave – or at least appear to behave – perfectly. These people tend to be very hard on themselves when they make mistakes.

It’s hard work trying to keep up this facade in front of everyone. As such, fallacy of perfection sufferers tend to be emotionally exhausted a lot. This can lead them to be feeling physically tired a lot of the time. It’s also likely to lead to a lot of negative self-talk, low self-esteem and generally feeling miserable. 

8. Sharing Your Irrational Thoughts And Fears Can Help To Debunk Them

Sharing Your Irrational Thoughts
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We all tend to suffer from irrational and unhelpful thoughts from time to time. If you can share these difficult emotions with someone you trust, that tends to be a great way to get over these and put yourself on the right emotional track.

It often feels better to share your undesirable feelings with just one person who isn’t emotionally attached to the situation. Hopefully, after your brave self-disclosure, this person can offer a logical perspective to help you recognize their fallacies.

The thing is: not everyone has a friend they feel comfortable sharing their deepest darkest emotions with. Even if they do, there’s no guarantee that this friend has the ability to communicate in a certain way that’ll prove helpful to you. 

If emotional fallacies are regularly causing debilitative feelings within you, you might prefer to work with a life coach or therapist instead. 

These professionals specialize in effective communication. They’re trained to be able to help you become more aware of your thought patterns. They’ll also be able to transform the way you see specific situations to get you feeling better about them.

If you work with a qualified life coach, you can have complete confidence in their ability to speak with you in a professional and confidential manner. 

One video call a week could make all the difference to your mental health and overall satisfaction with life. 

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Any More Questions?  

Thanks for reading my guide on emotional fallacies.

While it can be difficult to overcome this form of irrational thinking, it is certainly possible.  

If you have any further questions on this topic, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. 

It would be great to hear from you.

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