Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Fortune Telling And The Status Quo
Elected leaders intent on maintaining the status quo purposefully employ a faulty thinking pattern that we see clients in the therapeutic situation accidentally fall victim to all the time. This faulty thinking pattern is fortune telling, which is where the uncertain future is predicted with absolute certainty. Fortune telling tends to cause a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy since it allows people to give themselves permission to continue on with the same entrenched patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have caused less than ideal life results in their pasts and presents. If the future is set in stone there’s no point in experimenting with different solutions to change the outcome, no such thing as personal efficacy or responsibility really. They might not like how things have been, how things are, and where things are going, but with fortune telling in place they can at least resign themselves to their fates, which serves the dual purpose of reducing painful anxiety and letting them off the hook for the hard work of change.
Many leaders spew the same old garbage lines about how there’s no point in experimenting with different solutions to a problem because the result will be the same anyway and it’s important to be aware of this purposeful use of the cognitive distortion called fortune telling, a cognitive distortion that basically guarantees their prediction will come true in that it’s the current set of conditions causing the unwanted outcome and as long as that same set of conditions remains in place the unwanted outcome will probably continue to occur in the future. Fortune telling is an abdication of responsibility, not worthy of a true leader but indicative of someone who wants undesirable conditions to continue for reasons of self-interest.
Of course when it comes to the phenomenon of fortune telling we can never be sure that changing conditions will lead to a different, more desirable result but unless we try and then analyze the concrete evidence we’ll never know. When we think in these terms fortune telling as a way to maintain the status quo becomes pathetically transparent.