Are You an Awfulizer?

Posted by on Nov 18, 2015 in Time Management | 2 comments

Are You an Awfulizer?

Is your habit of “awfulizing” keeping you from moving forward in your life? Psychologist Albert Ellis coined the term awfulizing. It describes overly negative thinking that sees a small problem as a complete catastrophe. When you awfulize, you always expect that the outcome of anything you try will be terrible. You imagine that with every action you take, the result will be the very worst thing that can happen.

A simple example of awfulizing: you are standing at the bottom of a mountain and the goal you want to achieve is at the top. You stand there afraid to take the first step toward your goal because you just know you will be killed by a rock slide on your way up the mountain. The fact that rock slides are very rare on this mountain doesn’t change your mind. You end up stuck at the bottom of the mountain, never taking that first step toward what you want because you are absolutely sure, regardless of the real probability, that you that you will be killed in a rock slide.

Awfulizing can be paralyzing. You can’t change your situation or your life because there can never be a positive outcome to anything you try. Awfulizing leads to immense amounts of clutter. You are afraid to let go of anything because you might need it someday and horrible things will happen if you don’t have it. You will never be able to recover from these terrible things you have imagined will happen. I have had clients with 50 years of old checks because they are terrified they will get audited and thrown in jail if they can’t produce evidence they gave $10 to a charity 49 years ago.

When you find yourself awfulizing, stop and ask yourself “what is the probability this terrible thing will really happen?” Then ask how bad it would it really be if that happened. Think of ways to handle the bad thing if it does happen, and what you could do to get through it. Just knowing you have a plan can help you take the first step.


Copyright© 2015 Elizabeth Tawney Gross, Organizing For Everyday, LLC

2 Responses to “Are You an Awfulizer?”

  1. We were just talking about this! But…seeing it in print is another thing. Weird looking word, awfulizing! And thank goodness the awful things we imagine so rarely happen! Good tips, Elizabeth!

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