Day 112: Fortune telling, catastrophizing, and relief

Two days ago, I speculated here, with some anxiety, about how work was going to be for me today.  I assumed that I would see lots of  unfamiliar people — from the press and from law enforcement —  at the hospital where I work.

I assumed that this experience would be disruptive and difficult.

I was wrong.  My workplace looked and seemed very much as usual.

So,  dear readers, guess what?  Your faithful blogger  has now been caught in a very common cognitive distortion — the distortion of fortune telling. To wit:

Fortune telling.

We believe we know what the future holds, as if we have psychic powers. We make negative predictions, feeling convinced these are unavoidable facts.  Examples of fortune telling: “I am going to fail,” “This situation will never change.”

When I predicted that returning to work might feel like “Trauma Central” in Saturday’s post, I was engaging in another common cognitive distortion — catastrophizing:


This is a particularly extreme and painful form of fortune telling, where we project a situation into a disaster or the worst-case scenario. You might think catastrophizing helps you prepare and protect yourself, but it usually causes needless anxiety and worry.

I’m so glad I was wrong.

Will I learn from this?  Will I stop  fortune telling? Will I stop imagining the worst case scenario?

Yes and no.

I will learn from this, for sure.  However, based on my past experience, I assume that I will attempt to predict the future again, as a way to prepare myself.

Although, who knows?

I will keep you posted.

Thanks for reading, as always.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Day 112: Fortune telling, catastrophizing, and relief

  1. Leslie

    Hi Ann,

    I’ve loved reading your blogs since last week’s horrific events. I forgot you live in one of the locked down areas. How terrifying! I hope your trip to the Watertown Diner (also a favorite of mine) was not only delicious but also healing (yes, food can be very healing– diner food, especially).

    You really helped me feel better with your comment that we each get to calibrate what’s safe (and how to trust again after a trauma like this), without subscribing to any absolute standards set by others.

    Wishing you the best as you head back to work this week. Hope the presence of police, etc., doesn’t make your work that much more difficult.

    Oh, and I loved also the part about the mutual benefit of healing to both parties (or whatever you said). We’re all connected.

    Amen, sister.



  2. Thank you for this comment, Leslie — as beautiful as you are.

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