Horrible-izing the Normal


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

URGENT button

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,  we point a client to a list of common cognitive errors. The list includes things like 100% thinking, absolute thinking where there is no chance of any other outcome but the one we fear; it includes mind-reading and thinking with our emotions, among several other thinking errors.

One of those errors is to make a small thing a huge, gigantic thing. I call it “horrible-izing,” because  horrible is a word I hear often in my work. There are other words:  Awful, terrible, horrendous,  worst.

And urgent, urgency. A hangnail is urgent.  It must be dealt with right NOW, or horrible things will happen.

A little kid spikes a fever of 101° and we put in an URGENTcall to the pediatrician, telling the nurse or receptionist that the child has a horrible fever, and he MUST be seen NOW.

We would do better to put in an urgent call to Grandma, who has been through all the childhood fevers and bumps and cuts and scrapes. She will tell you to give the child a baby aspirin, give him a lukewarm bath, and put him to bed. Simple, no emergency, just common sense.

If we use up all our superlatives on small things, then we’re left with nothing to describe  a true emergency.  If we rush our child to the Emergency Room because he’s sniffling and has a sore throat, we’re taking up the time of the doctors and nurses who are trying to deal with the big stuff, like severe injuries from a house fire or car accident.

We really need to get some common sense.

Susie has the chicken pox, and she can’t come out to play for a few days until she’s not contagious.  Johnny has a little fever and a runny nose, so he needs to stay inside for a day or two just in case it gets worse.  Wouldn’t want  him giving his bug to the whole neighborhood.

There’s no fuss and feathers about it.  Simple, ordinary, a part of daily life.

Not urgent.



3 thoughts on “Horrible-izing the Normal

    1. Every now and then I get a new client whose child has some truly awful disease, and I just have to shake my head at the Nervous Nellies who get all upset over every little bruise.There’s one mom in particular who, I’m positive, worries when she has nothing to worry about 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I believe our society has developed an insatiable desire for drama. If we don’t have BIG drama going on, we magnify the TINY drama. As you say, small ills become urgent and snippy little remarks best forgotten become a MAJOR personality clash.

    Also, as one counselor explained, we have this expectation of perfection. She said, “If we’re expecting everything to go perfectly, then a run in our pantyhose can achieve the dimensions of a tragedy.”

    Liked by 1 person

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