What if? What if? What if? Time for the What if Positives!
Sometimes it feels like our brains are wired for worst case scenarios. Especially as our stress levels go up. One thing piles on top of another and it’s all we can do to manage each of the thoughts that come up in our brains. And unfortunately, so many of us go straight to what I call the What If Negatives. Our brains are actually wired this way, originally as a form of protection. Most people also have times of struggle with fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt. This only reinforces the what ifs in our minds that we may ruminate on and end up expending quite a bit wasted energy throughout the entire day.
Our minds take in what we give them. We pile in the negative, worst case scenarios usually (and unfortunately) with ease. This sends messages to our brains and whole bodies that there is a lot to fear and worry about out there. We focus on all of the things that might happen and end up scaring ourselves into thinking it will happen. In Habib Sadeghi’s book The Clarity Cleanse, he talks about patients he works with that scare themselves with their worst case scenario thoughts. His response…”Our lives are filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which never happen.” True, and yet we spend so much time obsessing on the What If Negatives.
Nurturing our brains with positivity is really important. I talk with my clients who tend towards worry to begin to build up the positives in their brain. This exercise is what I am referring to as the What If Positives. Our minds and bodies follow our lead. It is extremely important for our health to at the very least, tie up the score of What If Negatives with What If Positives.
There is wonderful research out there on positive thinking and the impact it has on our lives. Positive thinking not only decreases stress and depression, but it also can have an impact on our physical health. Evidence supports that positive thinking provides resistance to the common cold, increase in lifespan, and help with general physical and psychological well being. This is an incredible medicine.
So here’s how to start. It will involve forming a new habit and rewiring a fresh way of thinking. The wonderful thing is that we can do this. WE control our thoughts and the input into our minds. Our minds and bodies are ready and able to make shifts. Start here…every time a What If Negative comes to mind, add a What If Positive. For ease, you can let it be the exact opposite. An example…when the thought comes into mind, “what if I don’t get this job”, add a “what if I get this job” right in there with it. Or, “what if I get the exact best job for me”. “What if I do terribly on my presentation and everyone thinks I’m awful” shifts to “What if I rock this thing and my boss tells me I did a great job.”
Next, start building the What If Positives into your thoughts even when there isn’t a negative. This will come more naturally once you get the first part down of adding a positive thought to a negative thought. Throughout the day we have a million thoughts so simply start making some of these positive scenarios. Positive outcomes for each and every little thing. What if the line at Starbucks is super short and I’m not late to work. What if I love my new haircut. What if I learn 3 new things from this all day workshop. What if she says I love you back! SO many What If Positives!
The whole point of this exercise is that we need to help shift our brains from habitual negative thoughts to include habitual positive thoughts. Our brains need it. Honestly, there are so many negative, scary messages sent every day just by watching the news, or checking in on our social media of choice. It’s out there, so we’ve got to take an active approach to balancing it out, and hopefully make the positive thoughts the majority ones we have. Our minds and bodies will feel the difference.
A final thought…what ifs can be present due to intense situations. In life we are at times faced with truly scary, terrible what ifs. What if my daughter gets the diagnosis? What if the surgery doesn’t work? What if my husband leaves me? There are times when we do end up in life’s unfortunate, terribly challenging situations. And there isn’t an exact opposite counter, and it may be challenging to pull up the positives. But maybe you can fill your mind with some positivity in a different way. What if we figure out a way to make it through? What if we have the very best doctors? What if the surgery goes perfectly? What if we have a very long and good marriage together? In these times, it may be helpful to also seek professional support. Life’s most challenging experiences can be difficult to navigate and having someone supporting you outside of family/friends can be exactly what you need.
If you are struggling with anxiety or dealing with challenging experiences and would like additional support, please contact me here. I offer free 15 minute consultations where I’ll try to get an idea of what you are dealing with and how I can help. We will get a good sense of each other and can decide if I’m the best fit for you. Together we will make a plan for the next steps.