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Karla Paniagua

My husband (I’m still not used to thinking so, we just got married recently, but that’s what he is!) went swimming in the sea. I was lying on the cot, reading. He is an excellent swimmer and handles well in the open sea, but my mind already did his thing: in my visions, he drowned, and the currents took away his corpse, which was devoured by marine creatures.

He returned later with a broad smile, “the water is very cold,” he told me, shaking like a grinder, not knowing the mental film that had just happened in my head. I sighed relieved. And so, every so often, I release sighs of relief, because I’m one of those people who always think of possible catastrophes.

Experts point out that those of us who think of catastrophes tend to be survivors of one. And yes, in reviewing my personal history I conclude that it’s true, but most people match into that definition, don’t they? Whether it’s social, physical or spiritual, to some extent all of us have experienced very unfortunate events of great destruction and loss, which have given us the opportunity to become more resilient and wiser.

In summary, in each situation, I think of the worst. If I walk from my house to the movies, I’m looking around, afraid that I’ll run into a thief. If I take a taxi, I wonder what would happen if another car would hit us up front. My life is happening amid a chain of possible catastrophes and I release a sigh from time to time, after verifying that the terrible thing that I imagined didn’t happen.

While you read me, you may be asking yourself “how can you live like this?” Or maybe “how can we live like this?”, Because this way of approaching reality is quite frequent. People who think about catastrophes do so for several reasons. First, because our primary psychic universe learned this mechanism as a form of survival, and it’s difficult to deactivate it, especially in environments that induce alert states.

Second, because thinking about catastrophes has its gratification when the undesirable scenario doesn’t happen (yay!). Third, this system also gratifies mentally when the undesirable scenario is verified, because considering the worst scenario of each situation allows you to prepare for it. In short, thinking about catastrophes hurts, but pays back. That’s why it is so difficult to change the mechanism.

In the book ‘The Enchantment of the World’, the neurologist and psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik explains how alertness is the motor of evolution; that’s how our most remote ancestors managed to develop skills to shelter from inclement weather, hunt, domesticate the fire, cultivate, and so on.

Thinking about the worst is not such a bad idea if it helps you to prevent a catastrophe. Thinking of the worst as a way of life, however, supposes an unhealthy state of anxiety.

What have I done about this complex system, perfected over the years? These visions are very useful to feed my writing, so they’re transformed into creative goods. On the other hand, I lead a postgraduate in prospective where we often analyze dystopian scenarios, context in which my ability is useful as well. Once again, my catastrophic visions pay back.

On the other hand, to realize what are the origins of this system, what was / is its usefulness for my survival and when it is convenient to leave it on pause, it’s a work of every day. I meditate on it while writing these lines.

Whether you’ve taken the opportunity or not, that high-impact event, that painful fact that is part of your story, happened. It happened to you, leaving a war scar with which you’ve learned to live. The good news is that you survived, and you can learn from it. There is no guarantee that terrible events won’t happen again, so it is best to be prepared, hopefully in a healthy way.

Do you think about catastrophes? What personal story originated that way of relating to reality? What benefits do you get from it? How can you transform your catastrophic thinking into a force that works in your favor? Leave us your comments on Facebook. @DaliaEmpowerMX