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The Curse of Endless “What If” and How to overcome it (Part 1 of 2)

Ever wonder why when you are watching some news, then out of the blue a question pops up in your mind “What if that terrible accident happens to me?”

The questions could be something small or trivial to something grande or even absurd.

“What if the neighbor downstairs complains when I exercise in my apartment?”

“What if my car breaks down? I don’t have enough money to fix it this month”

“What if there is a war? What would I do to survive?”

First of all, those What-Ifs are normal. Our brain is wired to always protect ourselves. It always tries to anticipate any possible threat.

From something simple such as bringing an umbrella when you look at the cloudy sky before going for your afternoon walk. To something more complex such as planning for a family picnic. You would raise some What-Ifs.

However, this completely natural behavior could become an issue when it takes over your mind, consume your energy, causing unnecessary worry or even anxiety. For example, when going to a picnic, you are always looking at the sky, worrying that it may rain soon. You are worrying so much that you don’t enjoy the picnic itself.

Another example is when you see a colleague in another department get laid off. You heard and know that the company is facing difficulties amid an economic downturn. “What if our department is next?” This is actually still a normal reaction. However, it becomes an issue if it affects you too much. You begin thinking of everything that may get you laid off. “I should have replied to my boss’s email in the morning, but I missed it because an urgent issue came up”. “What if he is upset with me for not replying right away?”

Continue to part 2 here.

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