Two small words that open an enormous world of doubt and self-sabotage. They start by latching on to an overall feeling that something might be wrong.
Soon they lurk in and creep about to form a troublesome image that is coupled with thought and words like, “I left the oven on”. Then you come back and all is well, the house isn’t burning. This is an example of recent memories.
However, there are the “What ifs” that our anxieties feed on which are the long-time memories that we keep furthering our guilts and embarrassments.
How many times have we found ourselves ruminating over a particular memory, and then we add “What if”?
Same thing for the near future. “What if I stutter in a presentation or fail to end a thought process? What if I start to sweat on the first date with a new person? “
What happens after that is a two-fold situation. As the minutes go on we are away from the present trying to hypothesize whatever we think we did wrong. Also, we don’t move on.
We don’t allow ourselves to let go over something that has happened a long time ago therefore we imprison our minds. As we try to create an alternative ending to our past negative stories we tend to forget that they are gone.
It is only with that idea that we can let go. They are gone and we aren’t there anymore. We are in the now. We are now.
Some “What ifs” are so powerful that they create the illusion of certainty of an outcome that won’t be put to the test. They fill us with such an energy that we rather stay safe than risk going against it. It becomes a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
The trick, I believe, is to see it for what it is, a familiar trap that serves no good purpose, basically a mp3 on repeat.
I believe that these “What ifs” shenanigans offer a unique opportunity into understanding ourselves. We are creative beings. We create and co-create our realities every day and assimilate our beliefs into the components of our lives.
If we fear something is going to happen and believe so much then it is obvious that we will run from it, not realizing that said fear isn’t outside us. It is the same for its opposite. If we believe we are going to do good at anything we will overcome obstacles to get to where we want.
I often observe my own “predictions” and projections about what is to come and the lengths my anxiety goes to warn me about dangers and alarms. They mostly start with, “What if?”
I find it to be a lot harder to invert this pattern and create a thought process of a positive “What if?.”
After some time of pros and cons and reflections on how anxiety and the need to control go hand-in-hand, I usually whisper to myself and say “you don’t control anything anyway so why stay where you are?”
And, I make the call, I start the presentation, I go for what bothers me and I take a chance. I don’t succeed all the time, but I move because I am not a tree.
I am not here to tell anyone what to do or how to engage with their mental health.
I am offering a first-hand testimony on someone who has had a very long relationship with anxiety and has realized the power that I have and the one I give away every time I believe in the many “What ifs” that have crossed my mind.
What if I can actually help someone with it?