It's called the what-if disease.
You've probably been afflicted with it at some point - you may still have it. In particular it attacks that part of your life where you try new things. It can stop you from stepping out of your comfort zone, taking a risk, going on an adventure, experimenting, stretching your boundaries, sailing confidently into the unknown...
Symptoms of this disease are:-
before making a decision you -
make a pros and cons list
begin a calculated analysis of everything that could go wrong
create a risk evaluation table that incorporates the probability of said risk occurring
begin every sentence with “what if”
when all else fails you lay face down on the floor and make noises that sound like a dying whale
A list of what-ifs you may or may not have asked -
What if I'm not good enough?
What if I don't get the job?
What if I do get the job but my boss is a big meany?
What if I don't get accepted into that degree?
What if there aren't any Krispy Kremes left at the 7/11? (speaking from experience)
What if I fail?
What if he/she doesn't like me back?
What if I get hurt?
What if I never meet my bae?
What if the plane crashes?
What if I have to choose between Dominos or Nandos? (the struggle is real)
What if I suck at (insert sport of choice here)?
What if I don't get the part?
What if? What if? What if?
You get stuck in your head. You’re stressing about things that haven’t even happened yet, and may never happen! It’s easy to go there, but no solutions come from what-ifs. It’s not a healthy way to think, and can become a bad-habit (aka a disease!).
But don't panic, it's curable! There are antidotes!
In life when we come to something we aren't so sure about, when we are so deep in a sea of what-ifs that we can't even remember what we're what-iffing about anymore, when we can't tell which way to go, to yay or nay, to stop or go, to left or right, sometimes what we really need to do is call on someone who knows a bit more about our problem.
This might be an older friend, a mentor, parent, or teacher. Maybe you know someone who has gone through something similar, in which case you can ask them for some advice.
For example, my car recently had some weird smell coming from the engine. I called my dad and he asked me what it smelt like, to which I replied that it smelt like fairy floss/toasted marshmallows (it really did!) ... Turns out, a plastic bag just decided to give my exhaust pipe a bear hug and was melting away!
Anyway the point of this is that 1. cars and the smells they should/shouldn't be making is not my forte, and 2. when I wasn't so sure about something, I called someone who would know a bit more about my problem. (I called Ghostbusters first but there was a one hour expected waiting time!)
Quite often all we need is someone to give us a bit of encouragement, to believe in us when we find it hard to believe in ourselves. So take your what ifs, worries, pros and cons, your IDEKs and even your fluent whale talk to people in your life who will look out for you and keep your feet on the ground.
Another way to process through the what-if storm is journalling. I find it helpful to get the thoughts out of my mind and on paper, instead of letting them bounce around and fuel anxiety, doubt and fear. I can see things more clearly when they’re written down and I can better identify which of my thoughts are healthy or destructive.
It is possible to swap your pessimistic “What if I fail?!” thoughts with more balanced ones like “It’s OK if I fail, because at least I gave it a go. It’s OK to make mistakes, I will learn from them. Some things are beyond my control but that’s OK, and I am doing my best.”
You are not the mistakes you make and they do not have to hold you back from an incredible future.
So what if we stopped asking what if? What if we took our calculated evaluations and list of possibilities, and instead invested time and effort into productive conversations with people who have the experience and qualifications necessary to give us great advice and encouragement?
Then, bella sisters, we will have shaken off disease and will be healthy, bold and confident to bounce into the future!
If you love Sarah's sassy style as much as we do, you can read more of her writing here.
Have you ever been crippled by the what-if disease? How did you pull yourself out, or stop yourself sliding down the slippery slope to what-if town?