“My obsession with consulting fortune tellers began innocently enough. At 18, I discovered Chinese and Western astrology and would check my readings regularly in the magazines I came across.
“Most of my friends did the same and it was a way to pass the time. While none of us took the readings too seriously, it was fun to see what the ‘stars’ had in store for us that week or month, and wait for certain predictions to come true.”
A GROWING OBSESSION
“In my early 20s, I studied in Australia, where I discovered festivals and fairs that celebrated the occult. There were always astrologers, palm readers and clairvoyants at these events, and I would seek them out for personal readings.
“I didn’t care if I had to wait in line for two hours to speak to a well-known reader. I always showed up with a long list of questions I needed answers to, like ‘Will I ever get married?’, ‘Do you see me living to an old age?’ and ‘Will I have the career of my dreams?’.
“I went from asking such broad questions to more specific ones. For instance, if I happened to be dating someone at the time, I would ask the reader if the guy was good for me or if he was The One. If the reading took place during the examination period, I’d ask how well I would do on a particular paper. I never ran out of questions to ask.
“The readings were not cheap. A 30-minute session cost anywhere between $40 and $80, depending on the reputation of the reader. If I wanted the session to run for another 30 minutes, the cost was double.
“These New Age fairs and festivals only took place a few times a year. In-between, I would contact local clairvoyants who advertised in magazines and online. In my first couple of years in Australia, I was spending an average of $300 a month on readings and had to take on a part-time job just so I could afford to keep going.
“In my final year at university, I started getting readings from famous American and British astrologers and psychics. Sometimes, they’d conduct the session over the phone, or I would send them questions and they’d e-mail me back their answers.
“Once in a while I would also request for a yearly forecast based on my star sign. These readings were more expensive – it was not unusual for me to spend $500 on a 60-minute session with a famous clairvoyant, or $300 for a detailed astrology forecast.
“When I returned to Singapore after my studies and began working full-time, I continued with the readings from these overseas psychics. This went on for close to a decade, until I was in my early 30s and realised how the readings were ruining me emotionally.”
SPIRALLING INTO DEPRESSION
“Up until my late-20s, I never really took these psychic readings seriously. I was interested to see what the different readers had to say and was always open-minded about their predictions.
“Sometimes, they would tell me something outrageous and I’d think, ‘Nah, that will never happen!’ and other times they would tell me something that made sense and I’d think, ‘Okay, let’s see if that comes to pass’.
“It was just a lot of fun to hear their take on whatever was going on in my life and I never based my decisions on what they said.
“Between the ages of 29 and 31, however, I experienced a number of problems that left me seeking the advice of fortune tellers more and more: I found out I had cysts in my ovaries, which bothered me tremendously because I feared they would affect my fertility; I was engaged to a man who was cheating on me; my mother developed some serious health problems; and I lost my job, which translated into financial difficulties.
“I needed to know if my life would ever be the same again.
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“During those two years, I was such an emotional wreck that I believed just about everything the psychics told me to do.
“One unscrupulous psychic told me to have faith that my cysts would disappear without medical intervention, so I didn’t see my doctor about them as soon as I should have.
“Another told me that I’d receive a job offer from someone I would meet in a cafe – I waited almost a year for this person to show up but she never did, and during this time I even held off applying for a new job.
“A third psychic advised me to stay with my cheating fiance because he’d turn over a new leaf – he didn’t and in the end, left me for the other woman.
“I didn’t know what to believe anymore. My life felt completely beyond my control and I sought counselling for depression.”
REALISING THAT LIFE IS WHAT I MAKE OF IT
“Getting counselling put everything into perspective for me. Talking to my therapist, I could see how reliant I’d become on fortune tellers. What started out as innocent and fun had taken on a life of its own and dominated everything I did.
“I also realised that, towards the end, I had been blindly following the advice all the psychics were giving me. I didn’t stop to question if their readings made sense or were in my best interests, or even if they were scammers. So long as they were reassuring and told me what I wanted to hear, I was sold.
“Through therapy, I felt empowered to decide what I wanted out of life and to make decisions, big and small, on my own, without the help of astrology forecasts or advice from mystics.
“It was a liberating process, and finally, I felt in control of my life again. I stopped seeing psychics while in therapy, although it took a couple of months to completely break my dependence on them.
“I also learnt that having problems in life doesn’t mean that one has been cursed with bad luck or that fate is punishing that person. Even more eye-opening for me was the realisation that life is what you make of it, and not what so-called fortune tellers predict it to be.
“No one can tell you what’s going to happen in your future. I believe that we each have some level of intuition, so if you should be trusting your decisions to anybody’s sixth sense, it should be your own.”
The Dangers of Entrusting Your Life to Fortune Tellers
While reading your monthly horoscope or doing the occasional tarot card reading is harmless fun, overdoing it can hold you back in many ways. Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, explains how.
FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY
“People see fortune tellers because they want reassurance about the decisions they’ve made. It’s all about feeling safe and secure. When you feel like you don’t have control over your decisions, you end up feeling hopeless and helpless, further feeding your need to get a psychic’s advice.”
“Over-reliance on fortune tellers may result in a closed mindset, where you ignore or dismiss certain opportunities because they were not in your reading. You may resign everything in your life to fate and not dare to act to change the course you’re on. You may also end up playing a waiting game to see if something that’s been predicted will happen, and fail to notice solutions that cross your path.”
“You may feel more fearful, anxious, guilty or stressed if they say that there are no realistic solutions to your problem or if you feel that you cannot implement the advice they’ve given. You may feel like you have no ownership of your life, and may not feel confident enough to make decisions on your own.”
This story was originally published in the May 2016 issue of Simply Her.