Decatastrophising: what if the worst case scenario occurred?

The experiment involves deliberately exposing yourself to the feared situation and observing what actually happens. You then compare what actually happened to your predicted catastrophic outcome.

What if the worst happened?

You’ve probably thought long and hard about what would happen if your biggest fear came true. You may have imagined the worst possible scenario and you may have convinced yourself that it’s inevitable in certain situations

But what if the worst did happen? What would really happen?

The truth is, the worst is rarely as bad as we imagine it to be. In fact, it is often much less bad. This experiment is all about simulating the worst case and experiencing for yourself what will happen.


  • Choose a social situation that you are afraid of (perhaps from your social anxiety map)
  • Write down the one thing you are most afraid of happening in that situation. Be as specific as possible.
    For example, one situation you might fear is giving a work presentation. Your worst-case scenario might be freezing in the middle of the presentation and fearing that your colleagues will think you are incompetent.
  • Predict how you think people will react and what you think will happen if your worst fear comes true. How will you know how people are reacting? What visible signs will they show? Again, be as as specific as possible. Rate your confidence in each prediction on a scale of 0 to 100.
  • If possible, simulate the situation. For example, if you are afraid of public speaking, pause mid-sentence in your presentation.
  • After simulating the situation, go back to your predictions and revisit your scores. How much do you believe each one now?