Does your mind get caught up in the what ifs? What if I don’t finish my work in time? What if Kim Jon-un bombs the U.S.? What if I have to hit the brakes suddenly and the car following behind me hits me? What if I never go to sleep? What if this headache is caused by a brain tumor?
Most of us ponder over the what ifs. When I find myself engaged in this sort of future-tripping, I apply various tools to talk myself down. Here are examples:
- What if I don’t finish my work in time? Lucinda, you are making up a story. You have never suffered a major consequence as a result of unfinished work. The world isn’t going to end.
- What if Kim Jon-un bombs the U.S.? That will be really bad, but there isn’t anything you can do about this. Be sure you tell people how much you care about them, since other people may also be feeling scared. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about getting your work done.
- What if I have to hit the brakes suddenly and the car following behind me hits me? Lucinda, you have never been rear-ended. Give yourself plenty of room to stop, and when it is safe, let the person pass you. Do not give them the finger. They may be worried about Kim Jon-un too.
- What if I never go to sleep? You’ve always gone to sleep eventually. Try meditating, since you seem to sleep just fine when you do that.
- What if this headache is caused by a brain tumor? It is probably just one of those 24-hour tumors that goes away by itself. If you still have it tomorrow, you can consult with someone who actually has a license to practice medicine.
Using the What Ifs as a Tool for Change
A friend told me that she has transformed the what ifs into a positive tool rather than one used to create anxiety. What if despite the rain, I have a great day? What if I practice being kind? What if I am grateful? What if I try something I’ve never liked before or thought I couldn’t do? What if this situation isn’t as it seems?
I tried using what ifs during my workout. What if working out is fun? What if I can do more than I did during my last workout? What if I smile during my workout?
The results were phenomenal. I had the most fun I’ve ever had at the gym, and it didn’t feel as hard. The thought that I looked ridiculous with a smile on my face made me grin even more. It was such a success, I’ve been applying the what ifs ever since.