Beliefnet
Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Have you ever been ready to do something, take a risk, or try something new, then put on the brakes by thinking “What if this or that happens?” Most of us have done that. Certain activities seem be scary or intimidating, triggering those “What if?” thoughts. Those are assumptions based on nothing but projecting a bad outcome that’s unlikely to happen.

“What ifs?” are self-imposed roadblocks to moving forward and making progress in areas that matter to you. Having those kinds of thoughts can get irrational if you let your imagination take you down that road and let your mind conjure up the worst-case scenarios. If you focus on What Is instead of “What if?” you’ll get a lot more in life. For example:

•    “What if I ask for a raise and my boss gets mad?” That keeps your confidence low about asking. And it will keep your income lower than necessary if you let the “what if?” stop you from asking. What is: You do a good job and deserve a raise. Probably the worst that could happen is your boss says no.

•    “What if I bring up marriage and he breaks up with me?” That keeps you quiet and can create anger if he doesn’t read your mind and bring it up himself. Worrying about what ifs keeps you stuck and won’t get you to the alter. What is: If you want marriage and he breaks up with you for that, it’s better to know now and move on. Chances are you may open the door to a productive discussion about your future.

•    “What if my flight leaves late and I miss my connecting flight?” Why ruin your trip with unnecessary what ifs about your connection, since it doesn’t get you anything but anxious? What is: You won’t know if you’ll make the connection until you arrive and you have a good chance to make the flight. There’s no need to stress the whole first flight for nothing. If you miss it, you’ll deal with it then, when it’s real–when it is.

•    “What if I start my own business and lose everything?” This keeps so many people from following their dreams. What ifs are excuses to put your dreams on hold, until you’re too old and look back with regret that you didn’t try. What is: If you prepare and make the effort, you have a reasonable chance of succeeding. Make sure you have something saved just in case. Yes, you might fail, but you’re a bigger failure if you don’t try and live in regret.

•    “What if I start to say ‘no’ to people and end up with no friends?” Letting those what ifs stop you keeps you a people pleaser, and assures you won’t have the time for you to be happy. What is: Real friends will accept your decisions as long as you’re not nasty about it. You have a right to say “no” and people will accept it once you try. Do you really want only friends you buy with favors?

When what ifs are stopping you, write down what really scares you and what you can do if it does happen. What ifs are usually much, much worse and scarier than the probable reality. Love yourself enough to replace the what ifs with what is right now. And right now you’re safe. Use affirmations to clear them from your head like “Everything will work out fine.” When your faith is strong, everything is fine! Then the only thing that matters is what is .

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