Learning to Be Less Anxious About Cancelled Work Tonight


I work part time as a therapist doing a group at a hospital. This has been an idea position for me thus far. One thing that happens is that census gets low and sometimes there are no group members to attend. On these days, I don’t work. Getting seats filled in the group is the purview of a director or marketing department – I don’t have the authority to do any marketing or take other actions on behalf of the hospital. My coaching question is about the “automatic thoughts” I tend to have whenever this occurs. 😉 Yes, I know that my thoughts are optional and I do catch them more and more – I would appreciate any feedback you might have here.

C: On 10/19/21 I checked in with my department and there are 0 scheduled patients attending my evening group program. I do not work tonight.
T: This is terrible.
F: Fear/anxiety (lizard brain style)
A: Ruminate and worry whether this will always be the case, catastrophize that maybe there will never be any more group attendees, think about how I am stuck or a victim because I don’t have the authority to help with marketing for group – wonder, “are they even doing any marketing for my program?” Drink wine, Netflix, spend time online and social media, lay in bed or on couch, don’t get dressed and ready to take on the day because it doesn’t matter, entertain thoughts that I am a bad therapist, bad person, worthless, not good enough, it is my fault that census is low and then 0. Tell myself my whole life is out of control. Worry about whether I should look for another position.
R: Because I entertain and believe my thought that this one single day’s situation is “terrible,” I react in a way that devolves towards hopeless and helpless behavior, I don’t use my new found time in a productive or meaningful way, I make it mean that I am powerless or bad, I make it mean that because today there are no patients, this group and my sweet job will dry up and be over. I don’t “seize the day,” but instead create a “terrible” day for myself when really I don’t have to at all.

Intentional thoughts:
T: This is just one day, I am doing everything right, sometimes this happens.
T: I have the whole day free! I can do so many things to move forward. This is fortuitous.
T: I am safe. 0 patients is just a circumstance – I GET TO decide how I will think about it.
T: It’s okay that my first reaction is a fearful thought – that’s just my brain doing what it does. I can comfort it and remember that I don’t have to keep focusing on fear, instead, I GET TO focus on any thought(s) I want to, for the rest of the day.
T: I’m not alone, I can reach out to ATC. There are many brains out there who can help me.
These thoughts all feel so much better…thanks in advance for any observations or assistance you might be able to provide!