Do you “What if..” a lot?
I had a really funny conversation with a client a while back and it was one of those where we completely forgot about grammar rules and ‘making sense’; We were talking about ‘what iff-ing’ (Yep, I am breaking all the grammar rules here –forgive me!). Anyone around us must have thought “What are these two on about?!!”
Said client was describing a situation in the future and it went like this ‘What if this happens and it all goes wrong? What if I can’t do it? What if I fail? What if no one comes to my event? What if I can’t pay my bills? What if I can’t pay for Christmas presents? She was what iff-ing quite epically and stressing herself out!
Below you’ll find more about this type of self-talk and how you can transform it to use it to your advantage.
What does what iff-ing lead to?
It can be a wonderful language tool, because it helps to expand the mind or it can be limiting and disabling.
It can lead to:
- Anxiety or uplifting yourself
- Stress or feeling free and comfortable.
- Building up fear-Fear is not real. It is imagined and stops you living in the real world.
- Not seeing a situation as it is, blowing it up out of proportion and imagining something un-real.
- Freedom to be optimistic and positive
- The Truth-when we allow our imagination to wonder, we can start to convince ourselves of lies. When you ‘What if’, ask yourself: Is this really true?
- Self-trust. The more you what-if+POSITIVE statements, then notice what does actually happen in real life, the more you build up self-trust.
- Going round in circles, and creating a spiral of negative thoughts.
- Physical stress: Headaches, stress, weight loss, comfort eating, feeling of anxiety in the body.
How NOT to ‘What if?
- Catch your self-talk: Does it not feel good?
- Check in with your breathing: does it feel effortless or short and shallow?
- Don’t blow up the image in your mind; Decrease the intensity by making it the size of a dot, taking away any colour or imagine a white blank screen instead.
- If you have what iff-ed, and you still have to go through the experience (a job interview, a date, a networking event, a party, a conversation, etc) , afterwards ask yourself, did your” What ifs..” come true?
- Check in with yourself: Are you creating fears for no reason or are you keeping yourself safe from a real and genuine threat? Fear is not real. Instinct is. you’ll always know when to really run for safety.
- ‘What if’ about the past. It’s done, its over and finished. Not one single thought, or no matter how long you spending thinking ‘What if I had not said that, done that, acted like that“ will ever change the situation. It’s best to ask “What can I do differently next time?”
What’s the best way to ‘What if’?
- Allocate time to think about and consider a situation from different angles.
- Follow this equation as far as you can: What if+POSITIVE comment
- Change your body language: Move your body-distract yourself so you don’t get caught up in a negativity loop.
- Be persistent about changing any negativity self talk loops.
- Don’t ask friends what they would do because essentially you’re asking them to share “What they would do, if…(they were you)”. Trust yourself.
- Try not to ask the question “What’s the worst that could happen?” Only ask it to get a more rounded idea of what a possible situation could be like. Remember, it’s not a reality until it’s happened, and even then you can still choose to see the scenario in an empowering way.
- Ask yourself, when do you “What if” the most? After an argument, after a discussion, when you’re on your own in the evening, after you’ve watched the news?
- It’s the perfect tool for to become a creative thinker by expanding their mind, or it can quickly become a disabling and limiting self-talk tool. Check in with yourself and change the pattern.
Remember, we create our reality by the stories we tell ourselves in our minds. You can train yourself to tell a better story. Your new stories give you the freedom to take risks in a way that feels good for you.
Happy what iff-ing!! And, remember always use this equation: What-if+ positive and nothing is real until it’s happened!
I’d love to read your comments below! Share your thoughts, is this a pattern you have? how does what-iffing feel to you?