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Relationship Catastrophizing: Emotional Distortions and Communication

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A person sits in a cloud of dust, symbolizing negative thoughts

In the journey of any relationship, ups and downs are an inherent part of the experience. We all face challenges and difficulties, and sometimes, our minds have a tendency to amplify negative experiences. Which can lead us down a rabbit hole of catastrophic thoughts. This phenomenon, known as catastrophizing, can wreak havoc on our relationships. It can impact our emotional well-being and connection with our partners and friends.

The Struggle is Real: Normalizing challenges in relationships

We all experience times in our lives that when we struggle in relationships. During these times of struggle, our brains are hardwired to make sense of the struggle we are experiencing. Our minds search for meaning or create a story to make sense of the pain we are enduring. This cognitive distortion can lead to heightened anxiety, insecurity, and emotional distress. This story can be accurate, however, oftentimes the story that we tell ourselves assumes a lot of things. These emotional distortions can lead us create stories of what happened that aren’t always accurate. Allowing our emotions to distort our thinking can be harmful to us. Distorted emotions can lead us to create distance between us and another person. They can lead to the end of a relationship. They can lead us to treat people differently.

Missed connections

If you text a friend saying, “Hey! How are you?” and they do not respond, our minds will often ruminate negative thoughts. Like: “I knew that person didn’t like me,” or “They don’t want to be my friend anymore.” There are many other reasons that a person may not respond to a text message. Perhaps they are busy at work, school, or with friends. Maybe they read the message and forgot to respond or they have a new phone number. The possibilities can go on and on. However, our brains take this information and create a story that can be detrimental. 

Catastrophic thinking in relationships: fact or fiction

We are less likely to reach out to someone who we think no longer likes us. We may continue that narrative in our minds which can create a distance between us and this other person. This distance can continue growing if we stick to that story in our head. As time goes on we realize that we aren’t as close to that person as we once were. 

Alternatively, this thought can lead us to treating this person differently. We might start avoiding this person and stop reaching out to them. This can ultimately lead to distancing yourself from that person, or the possible end of the relationship. 

Mindfulness can improve communication and relationships

Ultimately, the story that we tell ourselves can be harmful because it can lead us to create distance in our relationships, or treat others differently. In order to be able to view other reasons why a person may have not texted you back, it can be helpful to pay attention to when you start to notice a reaction or feeling. This reaction and feeling is the starting point of the story, because once we experience it, our minds proceed to try to make sense of why we may feel anxious, fearful, disappointed, or angry. After you notice what feelings you experience, then you can start to examine why you had that reaction and what story you began to create in your mind to make sense of the reaction. 

Health and Healing Therapy can help.

At Health and Healing Therapy, our team of skilled and compassionate therapists is here to support you on your path to emotional well-being and improved relationships. Whether you’re dealing with relationship issues, anxiety, or any other mental health concerns, our therapists are equipped to provide the guidance and tools you need to thrive.

Contact us to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call today to see if therapy is right for you.

Nina Iraheta wears a light blue sweater and has long dark hair streaked with blonde. She has a bright, kind smile.

About Nina Iraheta

In my free time I like to read, hang out with my cat, and attend live shows. I love a good suspense/thriller book, however I also love to spend the night singing along to my favorite artists at live shows! I also love to enjoy nature, go hiking, and it is a hope of mine to visit all of the national parks in the United States!

View my therapist profile.