Day 2078: Preparing for the worst-case scenario

Yesterday, as I was preparing for several worst-case scenarios, I noticed this headline in a local newspaper:


I captured that image, preparing for the worst-case scenario of people getting confused, angry, or annoyed that I was inexplicably snapping a photo of a folded newspaper in a busy restaurant, perhaps momentarily inconveniencing people going about their business.

I wanted to photograph that “Preparing for the Worst-Case Scenario” headline — despite the worst-case scenario of bothering other people — because  I believe that I am not alone in preparing for the worst-case scenario, consciously and unconsciously, every day.

Preparing for the worst-case scenario that the previous paragraph was either confusing or otherwise inadequate, I will now redirect you to many blog posts about the cognitive distortion of catastrophizing (here, herehere, here, here, here, here,  here, and here).

Preparing for the worst-case scenario that nobody will look at those previous posts I’ve written, I shall now prepare a list of my current thoughts and feelings about preparing for the worst-case scenario, as follows:

  • People who want to sell you something often do so by seemingly preparing you for the worst-case scenario.
  • Action movies, like the latest Mission Impossible film (which I saw yesterday), are built on worst-case scenarios (e.g., the destruction of the world)  being thwarted, at the last possible second,  by super human actions performed by people who are much stronger and smarter than anybody I know.  My mind then goes to this worst-case scenario: what chance do actual human beings have in averting disaster in real time and real life?
  • Some reader might chastise me with this: why can’t you just enjoy a great action movie without all this thinking about worst-case scenarios?
  • It’s difficult to prepare for the worst-case scenario when so many seem possible in the moment. How do we even  choose what the worst-case scenario is, from moment to moment and day to day?  And then, how do we prepare for it amid all these shifting sands and different opinions out there?
  • Whenever I listen to or watch the news, I notice people preparing for worst-case scenarios that are often diametrically opposed from each other.
  • A nation (and world!)  so polarized and conflicted is — according to Abraham Lincoln —  a worst-case scenario: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
  • I’m preparing for the worst-case scenario that my readers might think I haven’t done my homework in preparing this post by pointing out that “A house divided against itself cannot stand” originally appeared in the New Testament.
  • Preparing for worst-case scenarios in our daily lives (e.g., my health is declining,  my money is running out, I won’t be able to survive this latest loss, I may fail miserably in this venture, people will judge and/or abandon me) may seem to prepare and arm us for difficulties, but it also depletes and sometimes defeats us, even before we’ve tried.

Should I be preparing you for any worst-case scenarios in my other photos from yesterday?
















Last night, as I watched the fabulous fireworks celebrating the opening of the new Hancock Adams Park in historic Quincy, Massachusetts, USA, I was preparing myself for the worst-case scenario that I wouldn’t capture any of the wonderful smiley-face fireworks that were a part of the display. Despite preparing for that worst-case scenario, I loved every moment of those fireworks.

So I guess that’s the best I can do, these days: realize that my mind is going to naturally be preparing for the worst-case scenario but also getting as much as I can from every moment I’m still alive.

I’m now preparing for the worst-case scenario that people will notice all the flaws I see in this performance of my second original song “Catatrophizing” from two months ago …

… and this more recent performance, listed under the title “How not to be a busker, by Ann Koplow” on YouTube (and starting at 4:04):

How are you preparing for the worst-case scenario, these days?

As always, I’m preparing for the worst-case scenario by focusing on gratitude for what I do have. Thanks to all who helped me prepare this worst-case scenario post and — of course! — YOU, from the bottom of my catastrophizing heart.


Categories: cognitive behavioral therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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27 thoughts on “Day 2078: Preparing for the worst-case scenario

  1. You have so much, Ann. So very, very much.

  2. An absolute delightful blog!

  3. Mentally preparing for worst case scenarios is my favourite thing to do–I find that it reduces my stress level!

  4. Ann, worst case scenario is me not being able to come visit you! Has anyone ever told you, you are kind of nutty. Did you get any money for singing on the street?

  5. My worst-case scenario is that I won’t be able to think of a smart and witty comment, which just shows that my priorities are both skewed and highly variable from one moment to another, but then I believe and hope that with the big potential world-ending crises it won’t be just a small group of super-human people but all of us working together. I know we’ll make mistakes but I also believe and hope that things will work out.

  6. I could not busk! OMG, I could not busk. I COULD, however, watch fireworks on the beach!!! Great pic’s.

  7. Your blog makes me want to travel.

    And as a naturally anxious person I can say the benefit of prepping for the worst usually leaves me pleasantly surprised.

  8. I don’t think about the worse case scenario, I live in the here and now and don’t worry about the what if’s in life

  9. I am an optimist – even if that means I can be shocked and disappointed, I’d rather be that way

  10. You definitely seem able to prepare for the worst by lifting your spirits, singing! I love your songs. 🙂 I am a rather pragmatic person, so I think although I’m aware of running ahead and mentally preparing for “the worst,” and these days, those thoughts come at me more routinely, I seem to quickly reframe the setting to make the best of whatever that looks like. I think I’m still very optimistic. I think I’m currently balancing fear and hope fairly well! I love the fireworks! 🙂

  11. I hope that people in the path of the hurricane prepare for the worst and are rewarded by returning to undamaged homes.

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