- What if my new business fails?
- What if I never find “true love?”
- What if I turn out to be a bad parent?
- What if I don’t get the promotion I want?
- What if my children fall into the wrong group of friends?
- What if I never find my true purpose?
- What if people don’t like me?
- What if my client is unhappy with my services?
- What if the real estate market tanks and I’m stuck with a huge mortgage?
- What if I don’t have enough money for retirement?
All these “what if” statements bring up thoughts of failure, disaster, and discontent. I think there’s a better way to deal with these negative thoughts that I’d like to share with you today.
I used to think that going through every “what if” scenario in my brain meant I was preparing for every possible outcome—I’d be ready for anything that came my way. Lately, I’ve been running through “what ifs” in my head, and instead of helping me feel prepared, my thoughts are making me feel anxious and worried about my future.
This morning my yoga instructor lead the class with a quote:
Our thoughts create our reality.
I spent the next hour contemplating her words.
My “what if” thoughts were giving me anxiety. As a result, my anxious thoughts were creating stress and fear about my future—a reality that I don’t want. I don’t want to be stressed, worried, and afraid. Sure, I wonder what the future holds, but what good is it doing me today?
So how do we stop allowing thoughts of “what if” to create our realities?
Being aware we’re doing it is the first step. You might be in a cycle of “what ifs” and you don’t even know it. So take a moment to reflect. Do you feel anxious about your future? If we’re constantly thinking about the future we miss out on the present. We miss out on a great conversation with a friend or loved one because our thoughts are elsewhere. We miss out on something funny our child does because we’re thinking about work we have to do tomorrow.
After you’ve reflected on your thoughts, ask yourself, “What small step can I take today to release this anxiety?” For me, that means creating a daily to-do list (which I haven’t been doing lately). Every night, I want to sit down and think about the things I can do tomorrow to bring me closer to my goals. By having a daily list I can focus on one day at a time. If I feel my brain wandering and falling into “what if” scenarios, I can look at my list and remember I’m doing everything I can today to help ensure a more successful tomorrow.
In summary, I challenge you to:
- Be aware of the “what if” statements that you say to yourself.
- Cultivate more presence in the knowledge that you can’t control the future.
- Take small steps today that take you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.
Also, be gentle with yourself. If you’re feeling anxious about the future try not to chastise yourself about it. Sit back, reflect, and talk to someone you trust if you need to.
Remember: “Our thoughts create our reality.” If our thoughts are present, positive, and optimistic, our reality will be the same.
Have a good today—and don’t worry too much about tomorrow!