If there is one word that connects all of us together is “Worry”. We all worry, some a lot, some not so much, but during Worry-What-if-cartoonmy life span so far I have met few people who clearly top the list. They would always visualize the worst case scenario and even have a strong belief that it could happen. A hurricane of “what-ifs” would spin in their heads as they plan their routine. What if I can’t pay the loan in 1 year? What if I become critically ill? What if my daughter does not get married? What if I become broke?

The stream of these questions is non-stop. If you think about it, all these what-ifs revolve around negativity. Our fears and worries keep us thinking about the time if any of those become a reality. Is it because we suffer from lack of self-confidence and we do not trust our skills and abilities?

Why Not Make Space for Positive What-Ifs?

Let’s try an experiment and brush aside the negative what-ifs to make way for some positive ones. What if I win a lottery worth million dollars? What if I become a successful surgeon? What if I get promoted as a manager? What if my kids grow independent and rich? What if I find true happiness? What if I eat healthy and stay healthy?

How do we feel now? Better, happy and positive? I often try this and smile at myself imagining all those good things. It all seems too good, we know it’s the right thing to do and yet we still keep thinking about those negative “what-ifs”.

Why Is It So Hard To Leave Negativity Behind?

It’s not a surprise that almost 9 out of 10 people suffer from what-if syndrome. First of all those who have this syndrome tend to be a control freak too. They want to know what’s going on, what will happen in future. They will always keep going to all those astrologers who claim to be able to predict future. The truth is none of us can. No matter how much you worry, future will be based on your actions and hard work alone. This uncertainty about future is something which makes most of us worry and have those negative what-ifs clobbering our minds non-stop.

One more trait of such people is lack in self confidence in themselves and trust on others. Do I have the skills to be successful? Am I the right one for him? Will I be able to make this report? Do I have the capabilities to payback my loan? This is all crap, we are all lot more capable of doing things that we think. We just lack behind in self-confidence.

There is one more important factor forcing us to think negative and that is fear of change. When you have lived in the same place, same way, same routine with same people for a very long time, you tend to develop a fear of change. You grow so comfortable with the way things are that a slightest change makes you worry. In order to make sure things stay the same, we even go to great lengths. If we find something that can threaten our routine, we go into protective mode and feel stressed. The stress wears us out and makes us worry a lot with negative “what-ifs” about the consequences of the change. It’s nice to be comfortable, isn’t it? But that’s not what life is all about, life is about changes and new things.

Any Remedies?

No, I don’t have any. Even I struggle with these negative questions everyday. I can be superfluous and say, “Don’t be scared, develop more confidence and step out of your comfort zone”. But it’s not easy and I know that. But maybe once a while when these what-ifs bother you, try to convert the negatives ones into positive ones. Instead of asking yourself “What if I become a broke?”, ask “What if I become rich?”. “What if I don’t get a visa?” becomes “What if I get a visa?” “What if I don’t finish the project on time? turns into “What if the project is completed on time?”

Just few words here and there and you can change the meaning of your life and bring some positivity into things you do.


2 thoughts on “Are You Living in the “What-If” Syndrome?

  1. I suffer (some people might not call it suffering, but for others this can make their life almost twice as difficult) from this too, a lot worse than most people. Whenever something is not occupying me my mind seems to wander to these thoughts. I try to keep my mind busy to avoid this but you can’t be busy all the time. I would constantly have thoughts about what the worse case scenario is and what could have happened in the future that would change things for the worse. But just today I told someone about it, and that person did something that I had not done previously; he thought of a good what if. So I took it upon myself to write down all my bad what ifs, then force my self to write some good ones. It came to a point that no matter what I could think of, I already had it written down. Although my count came to 110 bad and 12 good, it was still progress. I plan on adding to the last over time, until the count of the good what ifs rises above the bad what ifs. It’s a good thing too, since I’m only 14 and I can start to try to decrease these thoughts over time.

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