Bad Times: Why Do All Bads Come Together?

We all go through bad times in life. Typically, it’s not because the universe conspires against us, but because we’ve taken steps in that direction, although it’s not always easy to realize this and take responsibility for the chain of unfortunate decisions. In those cases, when one problem after another arises, we can be victims of what is known as the “waterfall effect”.

What is the waterfall effect?

The waterfall effect is a phenomenon that manifests itself in a staggered manner, starting from an initial event up to an apparently inevitable conclusion. In the field of biology, it is conceptualized as “a process which, once started, proceeds step by step to its complete, seemingly inevitable conclusion”.

This term is also used in the medical field to refer to a chain of diagnostic or therapeutic events triggered by patient or physician anxiety. In many cases, these events are triggered by an unexpected result or an unnecessary test that was intended to reassure the doctor or patient.

Once the chain of events has begun, it is difficult to stop and, although the consequences are predictable, they often end up causing physical or psychological harm to the patient. In fact, sometimes these consequences go beyond the patient himself and affect his family, which drags with him.

The cascade effect is relatively common in hypochondriacs , either because the doctor suspects that a disease may exist, because he wants to reassure the patient, or simply to comply with clinical protocols. In those cases, he can initiate a series of diagnostic or even therapeutic interventions that do more harm than good.

But the cascading effect is not limited to the medical field alone, we often experience it in our daily life as well. It happens when we experience a “bad moment” without being clear how we got to that point.

Bad Times: Why Do All Bads Come Together?

A “bad time” is nothing more than a period of time in which more unfavorable events than usual converge. Normally, they begin with a loss or a particularly difficult problem to resolve, but following that event or in parallel, another series of problematic situations arises that make us feel that “everything is going wrong”.

It is common for these moments to be a manifestation of the cascade effect because the problems that started in one area of ​​our lives have spread to others, probably due to the anguish and stress they generate and which prevent us from thinking clearly , triggering maladaptive behaviors which in turn generate new conflicts or problems.

When we go through a “bad moment”, often an unfounded thought, feeling or belief generates discomfort and anguish, triggering a series of negative events. We generally follow, without being fully aware of it, a precise process:

  • We are experiencing an event that worries us and we are trying to do something to remedy it
  • When we try to remedy it, a chain of events occurs which, the further they progress, the more they become unstoppable, as if they have a life of their own
  • The consequences of our so-called “solutions” generate new worries and anxieties which in turn give rise to new chains of events
  • We begin to see the negative effects of these events, consequences that are likely to extend to other people close to us

For example, a jealous person might notice that their partner has drifted apart a bit. Instead of thinking he’s in trouble and asking him what’s wrong, she immediately suspects he might be cheating on her. That prospect alarms and distresses her.

She then begins to “follow leads” of alleged infidelity, develops controlling behaviors, and becomes suspicious. This behavior deprives your partner of psychological oxygen, so that she will become more and more distant. Arguments and recriminations begin. The relationship deteriorates, not because of “infidelity,” but because of the fear generated by suspicion.

In many cases, the cascading effect is due to a low tolerance for uncertainty, as revealed by a study conducted at the University of Washington. When we are unable to deal with the level of uncertainty and anguish generated by certain events, we rush to do something to try to exorcise them and find that the remedy can end up being worse than the disease.

How to stop the waterfall effect?

Rather than thinking in terms of good or bad times, the waterfall effect shows us that there are a variety of causes and consequences in life that are hard to escape once the machinery is in motion. Not all of them are predictable or random, many times they follow a logical sequence, so as to be able to analyze them lucidly by assuming the right psychological distance .

Therefore, when problems seem to pile up, we feel trapped and we see no way out, it is important to ask ourselves if we are not victims of the cascade effect. If so, we need to arrest it, for which we need to identify the original event.

We must bear in mind that in most cases, what generates a “bad moment” is not so much the negative event itself, but rather the anguish, anxiety or fear it generates. Therefore, many times we react to those emotions, more than to the event itself.

In this way, the “solutions” we seek are not so much oriented towards concretely solving the original problem but towards mitigating psychological anguish. This can keep the problem latent as we multiply our efforts to escape its negative consequences, thus entering a vicious circle.

Therefore, it is important to realize that we must stop. If we don’t, the bad time probably won’t end and the problems will continue to multiply in the shadow of the initial event. As writer Molly Ivins said: ” When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

The first step is to become aware of the emotions that arose during the process. Ask yourself: what do I feel? Am I feeling distressed? Anxious? frustrated? I am afraid?

The second step is to understand the thought pattern that accompanies those emotions. What is my mind telling me? Is it fueling the angst? Maybe he’s kidding me? Or maybe he’s blackmailing me?

The third step is to stop the decision making process. Before you do anything, ask yourself if you are being carried away more by what you feel than by reason. Is it the best strategy? Has it helped you in the past? It’s about remembering that just having thoughts or feelings doesn’t force you to act on them.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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