A Little Trick for ‘What-if’ Thinking

Worrying about something can often monopolize our thoughts, wreak havoc on our emotions, and rob us of our energy. ‘Worst-case-scenario’ worrying will quickly bring us from a place where logic might have had a say to the “worst outcome possible, which will be devastating.” 

Sound familiar? I think that everyone can say that worriers or not, we have all landed there a few times. I was recently with a client who talked about the things in her past that she was proud of having accomplished; one of them was taming down her worst-case-scenario worrying. She stated that what really helped her was a simple trick with language – “Every time I go to automatically think ‘What if….” I change it to ‘What is.'”

Which, when we think about it, totally makes sense. “What if” brings us to a place where our worry gets tied into our imagination and we lean into the infinite possibilities. That gets combined with negative bias (the natural tendency to think the worst – based on our survival brain), and we have the worst outcome possible. But if we change that to “What is” we are now leaning into our rational brain; we shift from our imagination to the facts, or what we know right now. When we utilize our logic, we also open up the space to move away from negative bias, creating a more realistic, objective analysis of the situation.

“What is” instead of “What if” – I like it! 🙂

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@themikeburke


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