James opened the letter excitedly. Yes!
He punched the air triumphantly. He’d done it. He’d got an interview for a job he really wanted. Now for the preparation. He’d already done quite a bit at the application stage. He’d researched the organisation and the vacancy. He’d worked out exactly how his skills matched those they needed. He’d worked out the questions they were likely to ask, based on the Person Specification. And he’d decided how he would answer them.
On the day of the interview, he looked great. Best suit and tie, new haircut, shiny shoes. He sat on the train reading through his notes again, feeling as confident as he could be.
Then the train ground to a halt.
James wasn’t worried, he’d got about half an hour leeway. Nonetheless, he found himself looking at his watch every minute or two. It was fully ten minutes later before an announcement came over the loudspeakers:
We apologise for the delay, ladies and gentlemen. This is due to an engine failure. Another train is on its way. It should be here in about forty minutes. We apologise for any inconvenience.
Groans were heard from every part of the carriage, James noticed. He also noticed that everyone then got on with what they were doing, reading; chatting; sleeping.
But not him.
His mind went into panic mode. I’ll be late! They’ll think I’m hopeless! If I don’t get this job, I’ll be out of work for years! It’s taken me forty three applications to get this one interview. I’ll never get another! At my age, no-one will want to employ me.
He started to sweat, his breaths became shallower and faster, his heart raced and he felt faint. He couldn’t think straight.
James had been struck by faulty thinking – he was catastrophising.
Because of his negative assumptions that everything would be catastrophic, his thinking went haywire and he assumed the worst. Catastrophic thinking will do that to you.
Eventually, James remembered that he read somewhere that taking a few deep breaths while relaxing his shoulders was a good way to get in control of his feelings. He tried it. To his surprise, it worked. He could think again.
He got out his mobile phone, called the company he was going to see and explained the situation. They were fine with him, and agreed to add him to the end of their list of candidates for the day.
*** Try this! ***
If you find yourself catastrophising, catch that thought. It stops you acting logically and assertively. Like James, take some deep breaths while you relax your body. Say to yourself Calm, calm. You’ll soon get back in control. Then you can work out what you can do about the situation.
Ask yourself questions like:
What’s the worst that can happen?
How likely is it that the worst will happen?
What is more likely to happen?
How can I help myself now to deal with this situation?
Using these simple techniques can make your life a lot calmer. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?
Have you tried these techniques? How did you get on?