In the midst of the current global pandemic, there are a lot of us falling victim to the “what if’s?” This can sound like “what if I get sick?” “what if my loved one gets sick?” “what if I lose my job?” or even as drastic as “what if quarantine never ends?”
Stop. Take a deep breath.
These kind of “what if’s” are thought traps that can lead you down a rabbit hole of worry, fear, and hopelessness. It is rare that thoughts like these help you to resolve the actual issue, and at times they can cause you to act in ways that make the issue worse, or even create a whole nother problem.
So, now you are aware that “what if’s” are thought traps and not helpful. Our next step is what to do with those thoughts once you recognize them. Thoughts do not just go away once we realize that they are not effective. Thought patterns are habits, and in order to change a habit it is necessary to identify and practice a new, more desirable habit. Here are some things you can try the next time you catch yourself wondering “what if…?”
1. Check the facts. Is what you are thinking even possible? What about probable?
2. Flip the script. Imagine a positive outcome and ask yourself what if that happens instead.
3. Give yourself some credit. Picture yourself handling that scary “what if” in a way that is competent
This is by no means a quick fix. Remember, changing a habit takes time and consistency, so set the intention to practice these skills over the next month of uncertainty and give yourself some grace as you work towards creating healthier thought patterns.