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Top 7 Methods of Dealing with Negative "What Ifs"
By Bryon Thompson
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We call them “what ifs”. Those nagging little fears that pop into our minds when we’re trying to accomplish something. But where do our “what ifs” come from? Some may have been conjured up by others and some created all by ourselves but any way you slice it – we are the ones who ultimately accepted them as our own. We've regarded them as real threats, fears or concerns whether they be true are or not.
Many people live unconsciously under the impression that “what ifs” are a separate entity, independent from us and that we should take them all seriously. The fact is they are not always valid and true, let alone worthy of any sort of long-term loyalty. What's worse is that most of these “what ifs” are automatically negative, leaving us stuck, immobilized and unable to take action.
What can we do about it? Any number of things...
- Says Who.
When these negative voices, urgings, promptings, feelings, or whatever you want to call them, start to dig their heels in and convincing us to react in a certain way, then it's a great time to ask the simple question: “Says who?” If a good answer (emphasis on good) does not present itself then logically you have no good reason to be loyal to an urge that wants you to be stressed out. Naturally this applies to all habitual thinking that doesn't serve you well, not just the stressful variety. The point is if you demand a reason for the original source for the "what if" and you STILL don't come up with a reason, or at least a good healthy one, then why be so loyal to it?
- Reverse the projected outcome.
Good news. We can put a fun, positive spin on these “what ifs” and sort of play with them a bit. After all, positive expectations are just as valid, if not more so, than negative expectations so why not consider replacing the negative ones with positive. For instance:
“What if I get in an accident?” vs. “What if I NEVER get in an accident?”
“What if they laugh at me?” vs. “What if they DON'T laugh at me?”
“What if they judge me?” vs. “What if they DON'T judge me?”
“What if I face financial ruin?” vs. “What if I NEVER face financial ruin?”
How would you feel if the positive scenario transpired instead of the negative?
- Remember a better scenario.
It doesn't really matter if the ratio of bad past experiences outweighs the good – you can always remember a good one. You can always recall something to be grateful for, and if it happened once it can surely happen again.
- Let go.
Letting go means handing it over to the powers that be. Sure, letting go of a situation is easier said than done – especially if you're a long-time control freak. But stepping back and accepting what IS, not only relieves anxiety about the "what if", it also empowers you to say "so what" and "let it be."
- Be still.
Simply being still and waiting for the "what if" to do it's thing, spout it's concern, and then move on is sometimes all it takes to get on with the situation at hand.
- Talk it down.
Everyone has a slightly different way of handling these problems when they pop up. The most interesting method I've heard of is from a man who, when upon hearing the old inner negative voice say something like “What if you fail? You should feel nervous now and shrink back out of sight.”, simply talks back to the voice and says with authority “Shut up, sit down in the corner, and watch this.” Hey, whatever works.
- Be conscious.
Or rather, be consciously aware of old thought habits. Recognizing negative "what ifs" can mean the difference between acting on them and passing them aside where they belong. Be the observer, not the reactor and remember: Do you have feelings, or do your feelings have you?
Bryon Thompson is an illustrator, a musician and an advocate of self growth. You may contact him as well as download free ebooks at [http://www.infusebooks.com/] and check out his motivational quotation resources at http://www.bthompson.net/quotationlinks/
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Article Submitted On: May 25, 2006