August 7, 2020
We have all asked ourselves the question of “what if?” at least a million times. And while this phrase may seem like a seemingly innocent way of rationally working through a life-decision, it is subconsciously ruining our lives.
This single question is more dangerous than the harshest of headwinds or the nastiest of naysayers because it goes undetected by the mind as an obstacle to progress. This question masquerades through the mind under the guise of being helpful. We tell ourselves that we are simply thinking through all of the possible outcomes in order to make an intelligent and well-informed decision. But that’s a complete and total lie.
Every time we ask ourselves “what if?”, the mind is usually hypothesizing a negative scenario that could potentially happen.
“What if I quit my job and can’t find a new one?”
“What if I try to follow my dreams and I fail miserably?”
“What if (insert fear and/or deep insecurity)?”
And not only are the questions primarily negative, we seem to completely ignore the branch of mathematics known as probability. Just because we can brainstorm hundreds of terrifying scenarios, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to happen. Each outcome should be assessed based on how likely the event is to occur. And yet we often rank the scenario in which our world catches fire and we lose everything, as equally likely as the scenario where we simply stub our toe. If just .0000001% of the bad outcomes the human brain is capable of thinking about came true, we would all be dead by now. Very dead.
Since the mind is a master at running complex scenario analysis, imagine what would be possible if we starting using its creative power to our advantage. Instead of contemplating all the negative scenarios that are possible, what if we intentionally only asked our mind to think in terms of positive “what if” questions?
“What if I quit my job and I find a new one that is infinitely better?”
“What if I try to follow my dreams and my life turns out better than I ever imagined?”
“What if (insert best case scenario happening)?”
These thoughts are constantly running in the background of our subconscious mind whether we realize it or not. Our thoughts control our emotions, and our emotions determine how we feel throughout each day. How we feel directly influences our actions because we are more likely to accomplish our goals if we feel happy, driven, and full of energy. Since outcomes are the direct result of actions, you can see that our thoughts ultimately control the outcomes of our lives.
The questions we ask ourselves and the thoughts we continuously think, determine who we become and what we accomplish. Negative “what if” questions inhibit us from ever trying anything new, and are detrimental to personal growth. Thinking positive thoughts and asking optimistically-skewed questions can transform our entire life and produce phenomenal outcomes. Since thoughts are one of the few aspects of the mind that we have control over, it’s time to start monitoring these thoughts to make sure that they are serving us instead of hurting us.