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What if “what if?” was no longer our first thought?

In this post, I’ll be focusing on getting rid of our “what if” mentalities so that we can start to really enjoy living life. I’ll explain the reasons why taking calculated risks can help to make your life better and give you practical tips for how you can change your thought process from “what if” to “sod it, let’s see!”.


I must however make it VERY clear that I am not a counsellor, psychologist or a “life coach” (although, “life coaches” are not regulated in the UK so anyone can set themselves up as one!). I’m just a woman who’s overcome adversity herself and has now made it her goal to help other people feel better about themselves, whether that be through exercise or a good old chinwag.


The information and suggestions contained in this blog stem from both research, literature (high brow and mainstream media) and simple opinions and observations – what’s working in my own life and what I’ve been told works well by others. They’ve been designed to be thought-provoking rather than to elicit action. Please always seek advice from a relevant professional before implementing any of the suggestions, especially if you have a history of mental illness, including stress and anxiety.


What if we stopped thinking “what if?”
These days it seems like we spend more time questioning “what if?”, so much so that we end up talking ourselves out of things.  I suppose it’s a lot easier not to take action on something.  It’s a lot easier to do nothing.  The problem with that way of thinking is that as much as it seems like a safe way to live life, it’s actually quite scary. Ultimately you’ve eliminated opportunities and possibilities.  You’ve left your fate to others.


We all set our course with every decision we make, or lack thereof and going by that principle, we must therefore create at least some of our own luck. Are those of us that are “unlucky” simply unlucky because we either don’t see opportunities or we view them as threats in disguise? Are those of us that are unlucky in love, unlucky because we meet a great man or woman but think, “what if they hurt me?”. Are many of us stuck in jobs that we hate because, “what if I took a pay cut and couldn’t afford the mortgage?” or “what if I start the business that I’ve always dreamed of owning and it fails?”.


What if “what if?” wasn’t in our vocabulary? What if we let ourselves truly be happy?


Did you know…?

Some of us may be born into the “what if?” mindset. If you’re a born worrier, your autonomic nervous systems could often be cranked up higher, and your blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate may also be higher. And you may be less sensitive than others to the brain’s natural stress modulators, which are activated by the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid). People who have a good supply of GABA, or brains that are especially responsive to it, may be innately cool and calm. A study in 1996 actually linked a gene(called SLC6A4) to individuals who are highly susceptible to anxiety, pessimism, and negative thinking.


The good news is that although you may be more likely to have a “what if” mentality, brains are adaptable and flexible. You cannot give yourself a new brain but you can be redirected, retrained, reassured, and reset. You can change.


Changing our thought process 
Whenever I get a “what if” enter my mind, I always replace it with a, “what if I don’t?”. Generally, the answer to that question will be, “things stay the same”, and you might be thinking that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. 

However, our “what if” mentalities tend more often than not to indicate that we have a doubt or are not entirely happy about our current situation; they also tend to lead to a negative thought process. We very rarely think, “what if everything is perfect?” because if everything was perfect, then we wouldn’t be questioning other options in the first place!


So we know that when “what if” enters our mind, our current situation isn’t quite right in some way. In that sense, if things stayed the same, then yes, it might not be the worst thing in the world for us, but life might never feel quite right. So now, the answer to “what if I don’t” isn’t making the doing nothing approach looking quite so appealing is it?


Creating an abundance mentality
Eventually, “what if’s” become a self fulfilling prophecy. Either you allow the “what if” to win and don’t take the opportunity or you take the opportunity but worry so much about it going wrong that you’ll have invited that failure because your negativity becomes an obstacle on your path to success.


Whatever you focus on, you’ll see more of. Since you can’t take in everything around you, your reticular activation system – your focus system in the mind – will bring into focus what you focus your thoughts on. You may have heard of the quote, “whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right”. Seems they were onto something there!


For example, if you’re lacking money, rather than focusing on that fact that you don’t have any, try to focus on the abundance of opportunities that are all around you to make money. You’ll soon find that more and more opportunities present themselves to you as you’re in a positive mindset and setting yourself up for success. You’re actively looking for ways to make it work rather than ways for it to go wrong.


Quick tips to help you deal with “what if” moments in your life…