I still remember her big red circular glasses and hands full of chalk from the writing on the chalk board all day. Mrs. Christie was my grade 2 teacher at Chelsea Elementary, and despite her name I don't recall her ever making us cookies. I do remember, however, one lesson she taught us and I think of her often because of it. Mrs. Christie taught the class to never say "what if". Don't ask why I decided to remember this but it's so crystal clear in my memory and I am very happy that it is.
Seriously, such a simple lesson, but a necessary one. Think about it, where does "what if" get you? Let's say you are about to go on a trip, you think to yourself; what if it rains the whole time? What if I don't catch my plane?.... Or let's say you are thinking about signing up for a sporting event, you think to yourself; What if I finish last? What if I injure myself? Or you are thinking about a new job; what if I don't make enough money? What if I really don't like the people? What if I made the wrong decision? Or you are thinking about going to the gym for the first time; what if it looks like I have no clue what I am doing? What if people laugh at me?
I think "What if" is one of the most limiting and useless combination of words you can ask yourself. Sure they can be used in a positive way, for example; what if I win the lottery? What if I come first place in the race? But let's get real, I think more often than not, "what if" is used in a limiting way without us really realizing it. (I think this goes back to the idea that I wrote about in a previous blog... the brain computes with a negative, protective bias. I won't get into this now but wanted to link the two together.)
There are limitless outcomes to the question "what if" and you can spend a lifetime asking this question, and also waste a lifetime asking this question. The reality is, the world is not going to end tomorrow. There are no wrong decisions. Outcomes are flexible, so I would encourage you to DO MORE, and CONTEMPLATE LESS. You can figure it out as you go.
If you catch yourself saying out loud or the voice inside your head saying these 2 words together, simply pause, and exchange with "If _____, I will _____". Or better yet, try to get in tune with what your gut is saying or how you feel about the situation, and you may not even have to ask anything at all.