Those of us who struggle living in a world of “What If’s” know how hard it is to kick the cyclical habit of always worrying about those future hypothetical scenarios that all point in the direction of “I’m doomed”.
I recently discovered an amazing flip to this question we always ask ourselves, which almost always creates the unnecessary anxiety of future negative possibilities.
Anxious worriers are always thinking about future events that may cause them to have a panic attack or anxiety if they came true. “What if it’s crowded and I panic, then we have to leave and everyone will stare at me!” “What if there’s no exit?” “What if in the middle of dinner I start getting anxious and have to leave…what will everyone think?” “What if I feel stuck and have a panic attack?” What if, what if, what if. Worriers always put their ‘what if’s’ as a negative thought. This pattern of behaviour becomes a habit for your neurology. You start to filter events into a series of ‘how can this go wrong’ and you start the pattern of noticing all the ways it won’t work out well for you. Then, without fail, once the event is now present, you bring to life all those thoughts. What you think you become… your thoughts become your actions.
Knowing this, I challenge you to a twist in your pattern. What if, every time you ‘what if’, it’s a positive thought? “What if when we get there I feel calm and relaxed?” “What if I feel totally comfortable in the crowd of people, and I realize how safe and ease I am?” “What if during dinner I am having such a great time, that I just enjoy myself and I stay throughout the entire evening with no issues?” “What If I just feel powerfully perfect?” “What if this business deal ends up going through and I land the job!”
When that event you are future thinking arises, the only thought pattern you recall is one in which you were training yourself to be calm and relaxed about. The of course, when you bring forward those consistent thoughts, your actions become calm and relaxed. If you did not spend ample time foreseeing anything BUT calmness and relaxation, then there is nothing else for your mind and body to resort to. Once this becomes a habit, you will not find the need to future think as much, because there is no need pre plan for something terrible to happen- you know you have been calm and relaxed so many times before, that there is no need to worry. You will also notice that as you repeatedly talk about how great this situation is going to turn out, your whole energy shifts. You start to smile, look forward to the event, you can even feel the change in your body as you start to talk about the positive feeling this event will bring you.
Our fear is that if we do not prepare ourselves in advance for the possibilities that may present themselves if we are faced in a situation that may cause anxiety, then we are not going in protected. We protect ourselves with these ‘plans’ of what we will do if it happens. Our exit strategies. What I have learned is that it is certainly ok to have a plan in place, but once you have that plan- only positive ‘what if’ scenarios from there.
What if you tried this technique and it worked? What if it changed the way you think, and now you go into situations calm and relaxed? What if it helped you create a healthier mind?… Hmmm What If…