Reduce anxiety and depression by challenging common cognitive distortions.

I can predict the future…and so can you!

Okay, that probably sounds a little hokey, but it’s true. Our ability to predict the future is part of what makes us human.

We need to be able to predict that if we stay up really late, we will be tired in the morning. Or, if we drink that third cup of coffee, we will probably have a hard time sitting still in that meeting later. Being able to reasonably predict a likely outcome to a scenario is a necessary part of navigating the world around us. In this way, we need to be able to predict the future.

Unfortunately, some of us are really good at predicting only the negative outcomes of a situation. It can begin to feel like we have our own little crystal ball that is predicting doom and gloom over our futures. “I know I’ll mess up; I am going to fail this test; I’m not going to get that job”…and on it goes.

This natural skill of ‘predicting the future’ becomes the thinking trap of fortune telling when we begin to assume that the outcome of every prediction will be bad. Our negative thoughts spiral around and around until we fully believe in the negative futures being predicted and we get stuck.

Here are a few simple steps to begin challenging your ‘fortune-telling’ abilities:

  1. Get specific with your prediction. Write out the who, what, where, why and how of it. This can allow you to see all of the things that would have to come together in order for this possible future to occur.
  2. What is the evidence for your prediction? How strong is this evidence? Build a case both for and against your predicted outcome and examine it closely.
  3. After gathering the evidence for and against, write out three positive outcomes that are also possible.
  4. There are of course some situations that have the potential for danger. It can be difficult to assess the difference between the thinking trap of fortune-telling and normal healthy risk.

If you would like some help in sorting out whether you are making unhealthy negative predictions, or providing a healthy risk analysis, we would love to support you. Feel free to reach out and connect with any of our wonderful therapists!

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