What are “what ifs”?
They are hypothetical scenarios or alternative “realities” that are played out in the mind.
How can “what ifs” be used?
What ifs can be negative or positive.
The key is being able to discern the difference.
Most of the time it seems that what ifs are used in a negative fashion.
Maybe it is a defense mechanism or a conditioned thought process that makes this so. The defense mechanism can be fear, unacceptance or avoidance based. The conditioned thought process is one that has been learned. Overcoming either of these can be challenging but achievable. You can unlearn what has been learned. It just takes a conscious recognition and effort to do so.
When events happen in life they happen for a reason even though you may not know or understand the reason. When a negative event occurs, the what ifs can start flooding the mind and being played out one at a time.
These what ifs I call the past what ifs and they are negative having no benefit.
Past what ifs include the “I should haves” and “I could haves”. They can “suspend you in that time”. By this I mean being consumed, spending time and energy, dwelling on what might have been by reliving the event over and over using what ifs in an attempt to change the result or outcome.
This can cause issues such as depression, anxiety, guilt or withdrawal (just to name a few) and hold you back from moving forward in your life.
The truth is that once something occurs or is said you can’t go back and change it. It is done… it is the past… the result or immediate outcome will always be the same so all of the time and energy used on these what ifs is wasted.
When making a decision, positive and negative what ifs can be helpful to make the best possible choice. This type of brainstorming is also a way of weighing the possible options and possible results when seeking a solution to a situation or problem. These are what I call the future what ifs.
Negative ones, those that focus on what could go wrong, hold you back from trying or taking chances to create the life you want. Dwelling on them gives them control and the life you want not created.
Sometimes a what if that may seem negative because it technically “holds you back” is actually a positive because it is a reminder or warning that the action is a mistake. This can be construed as your conscience talking to prevent an action you know to be wrong that violates spiritual, ethical, civil and/or criminal law.
Positive ones, those that focus on what could go right, motivate and inspire, promote hope and desire, create ambition and confidence that lead to taking positive actions to create the life you want.
Future what ifs can be beneficial depending on your perception and outlook.
An example of this is the song “What Ifs” by Kane Brown with Lauren Alaina (2016):
You say what if I hurt you, what if I leave you
What if I find somebody else and I don’t need you
What if this goes south, what if I mess you up
You say what if I break your heart in two then what
Well I hear you girl, I feel you girl but not so fast
Before you make your mind up I gotta ask
What if I was made for you and you were made for me
What if this is it, what if it’s meant to be
What if I ain’t one of them fools just playin’ some game
What if I just pulled you close, what if I leaned in
And the stars line up and it’s our last first kiss
What if one of these days baby I’d go and change your name
(this is not the entire song)
The following is a quote from a post that caught my eye on Facebook yesterday:
“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right.”