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How To Win The War Against ‘what If’

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By Author: Srishti
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Many a time, when we finally feel that a certain thing would do us good, but in regressive moments we don’t settle for the peace of mind and rather trouble and terrify ourselves with just two words, ‘What If’.

Deirdre Maloney, president of Momentum LLC, speaker, author of Tough Truths, rightly labours the point of terror of these two powerful words in her article “The Two Words That Suck Our Power Away”. These two words suck out the positivity, energy and determination from us to triumph over a predicament. The tough time could be related to finances, job, family, or could be anything.

For Maloney such time is the year end, when she closes the current year and has to plan for the one coming. She thinks through what wonderful works she did the past year and what she will be undertaking in the coming one. However, what perturbs her is whether she will get any. “And then every year, without exception, my heartbeat quickens as I consider this next terrifying thought: What if none come?” she writes. Well, this is something we can all relate to. As they say, in this life nothing is certain, but death and ...
... taxes. So, who knows, if we are fortunate today and misery conquers the future.

Such mystification of life leaves us anxious as to ‘what if’ something wrong happens. For an instance, if the dilemma is related to our career and we are stuck up in the mire of thought that “what if I don’t get a job or what if I get fired” (or could be anything of this sort), an entire series following the impasse rushes through our mind like a storm. Maloney ponders over what if no project comes her way, and then a string of thought goes through her mind:

o What if I can’t afford my favorite Whole Foods salad every week?
o What if I can’t pay the rent?
o What if I go broke?!
Often times, we also trouble ourselves with ‘what if’ questions, which are completely hypothetical and we may never go through such situations. But, we don’t really get this in our mind when those two words are ruling our thought process. As Maloney puts it, “We play the ‘what if’ game…

o When we think about what could happen to our kids at school.
o When we think about coming down with a terrible illness.
o When we think about losing our keys, missing our flight, splitting with our partners.
During this time, we believe that even the most bizarre thing could happen to us, a tornado could come and ruin the peace of life. And, then comes ‘panic’, which worsens the situation further and we let it exhaust our mind and emotions. It is always sane not to live in a la-la land and we should identify the possibilities and probabilities that could take place, make ourselves prepared for any shortcomings. But, instead of smoothening the way, we stack up our thoughts with ‘what if’. What are we actually doing by letting our mind becoming a slave of such anxiety and panic? According to Maloney. We are playing a different role. A role of ‘victim’, and draining our power and serenity away. “These questions aren’t simply asking whether or not these things will happen. They are asking whether or not these things will happen to us — as though we don’t have a say in the matter. As though we will need to just accept whatever fate deals us,” writes Maloney.

Now, all of us should commit ourselves to push these two irksome words away and resolve to not be a victim. In fact, we should be determined to get our ceased power back. These questions are indeed pointless that are hindering our motivation of walking ahead towards the ultimate goal of life. But, How?

As Maloney puts it, she came up with two ideas and asks the readers to join in and explore more ways to steer clear of such vexing questions.
Step #1: Change the question

Maloney discovers that the problem with those ‘what if’ questions is not what strange thing might happen to us. But, the questions are a trouble themselves. So, instead of storming our mind with ‘what if’ questions, we should rather change it to ‘how can I’. If something unfortunate is destined to happen our way, no one can change and manipulate it. But, what we can change is how we deal with the problems. It not only calms us down, but also gives our power back. For an instance, instead of asking ourselves;

What if I go bankrupt?
What if I never get my dream job?
We should ask;
How can I work my way ahead that I never face problems in tougher times?
How can I polish myself to reach the destination in life, which I always dreamt of?

Such questions, motivate us and instead of making us walk the way, they metaphorically put roller skates on our feet, and let us run towards it. It stops us from becoming a victim of situations and “the pressure of making things happen” lessens itself.

Step #2: Change the Answer
Just changing the questions doesn’t put us back to power. It also depends on the manner we take those ‘changed questions’ further and deal with them. We cannot really run and escape from them. “We are resilient, smart, strong people. When things happen, we take action. We respond and we find support and we figure things out. We never hide in the corner and stay there for the rest of our lives. That’s not how we operate.”
In fact, at times we are up the creek without paddle to keep away from those scary questions consisting of those two even scarier words. In such cases, we have no other option but to deal with them. And, the answer that will come at our beck and call is ‘I’ll deal with it”. “We might not know how. We might not have it all figured out. But that’s okay. We’ll deal with it. Really, there’s no other choice. And chances are, we’ll come out even stronger on the other side. We’ll emerge victorious. We’ll gain more than we lose.

That’s what I’m counting on as I give up those “what if” questions. It won’t be easy. I won’t be perfect. But, in the end, it’ll be a whole lot better than the tornado of anxiety that comes every year at about this time
After all, who needs that??” notes Maloney in her article.
Let us all walk the path of optimism and determination. Even if hardships hinder our way, let us not ask ourselves ‘what if’, but ‘how can I’. No matter what come may, let us all ‘deal with it if it happens’ with our head held high, because no other thing can let us down other than ourselves. We are not a victim, we know how to roll with the punches.
Source - janpratinidhi

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