If you’re a worrier, then you’re well aware of “what if” thinking. “What if” thinking is the stress, panic, and worry that your brain creates by constantly asking future oriented, “what if” questions. “What if I fail? What if this doesn’t work? What if I don’t like it? What if they get mad at me? What if I’m wrong?
Does any of that sound familiar? If so, then you know just how debilitating anxiety and what if thinking can be. So today, I’m teaching you how you can deal with all the “what if” thinking your brain creates, plus how you can manage the anxiety that comes up with it. Watch below!
With each what if question, your brain goes down the rabbit hole of scenarios and possibilities. And before you know it, your anxiety has snowballed and completely taken over. “What if” thinking is exhausting. And you know what? It’s also ridiculously unproductive.
I talked a little bit about this in a recent video on chronic worry. We waste an enormous amount of energy thinking about stuff that never happens. We spend hours strategizing and making plans for stuff that never happens. And your anxiety totally tricks you. It convinces you that this “what if” thinking if helpful. That it prepares you. But it doesn’t. It just sucks a bunch of your time and energy, keeping you in a vortex of worry.
So the next time you find yourself going down the rabbit hole of what if thinking, I want you to use this statement. “I’ll deal with that if and when that happens.” You can also use the phrase, “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”
In the video, I want you notice how my voice changes when I say that phrase. I slow down, I soften my voice, and I take a more encouraging tone. Your anxiety and what if thinking do not want to slow down and listen. So you have to be intentional in getting your message through.
“I’ll deal with that if and when that happens. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”
This phrase isn’t about telling yourself “everything will work out.” This isn’t about avoiding or living in la la land. This phrase is about noticing your anxiety and responding thoughtfully. It’s about being strategic with your energy and worry. Because 95 percent of your what ifs never even happen. Think how much energy you waste thinking about stuff that you’ll never even need!
And on the small chance that the what if thing actually happens? You’ll deal with it then. You’ll cross that bridge when you get there. Don’t forget, you have the power to redirect your attention. You have a say in your brain’s inner dialogue.
So when “what if” thinking shows up in full force, respond thoughtfully. “’l’ll deal with that if and when that happens. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”