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“What if…”

what if

This week I’m getting on my soap box for a second because the past month has been rough for lots of us. Maybe it’s the mercury retrograde we’re in (doubtful) or maybe it’s because it’s the tail of the Horse year (less doubtful, but only because I like Chinese Astrology :). In my world, relationships have been going through some serious upheaval. After years of partnership, partners are making the brave move to be authentic and honest with themselves and consequently their partner. This effects change and can incite panic and despair.

But panic and despair only because of the stories we’re telling. 

Regardless if it’s due to a relationship or not, any negative emotion we’ve got going on is because of the picture we’re painting in our heads.

what if

We’re storytellers. We recount our past, we describe our present, and we envision a future we think is going to happen. We’re doing this constantly. In fact, it’s all we do.

We’ve been told that the good life requires we map out our lives, stick to a plan, and adjust for the future we’re living into. This requires visioning and action.

But here’s the rub – we’re freaked out by what could happen and so what do we do?

We tell the most horrible versions of “what if” and freak ourselves out.

And you know what sucks? We think this “what if” business is foresight. It’s not. It’s a story and it’s responsible for your distress.

Check it out.

What’s real is NOW. That’s it. The past is gone. No, it doesn’t have any part to play in your present unless you throw it in. So drop it.

Your future hasn’t happened yet. It’s not real. It’s an idea. ANYTHING can happen in your future. You have no clue what’s going to be true 20 minutes from now. You have an idea and chances are it will unfold pretty close to what you’re expecting. But it’s not certain. We think we’re certain because we’ve experienced enough consistency with predictable manifestation that we believe our visions of what’s to come are hard facts. A bird could come crashing through your window 5 minutes from now. You weren’t expecting that, now were you?

Right now is all there is.

Right. This. Very. Second.

And things are pretty good, right? There is nothing worth freaking out about in this very moment. (Unless a tiger is chasing you while you read this.)

So all that negative stuff you feel has nothing to do with right now, it has everything to do with the “what if” stories you’re telling yourself.

Seriously, this is so powerful, I feel compelled to say it again. Any stress you feel is from a crappy “what if…” you’re thinking.

So what to do??

Just stop doing it. Nothing good comes from painting a future that feels awful. You may think that brainstorming all the worst case scenarios may help prevent them but in fact, it just fills your system with unnecessary anxiety. This, in turn, keeps you from thinking intelligently and creatively. It just perpetuates nonconstructive fear-based thinking which sets you up for a future you don’t want.

This isn’t new-agey mumbo jumbo but honestly, when it comes to your future, just think good thoughts. Be diligent with your focus on what you WANT to see, not what you’d hate to have happen. Fill your mind with what you appreciate about NOW and what you’re eager for becoming. There is absolutely no need to tell unwanted “what ifs.” Doing so is simply a waste of time and a beautiful mind.

Reminisce about your past only when it makes you feel good. Talk about your present with gratitude. And think ONLY about what you WANT to see in your future. Try this out for a few weeks and notice how the quality of your life shifts dramatically. Finish the “what if…” stories only if they put a smile on your face and excitement in your heart.

Amy Eliza Wong is a life coach, writer, and speaker in the Sacramento, CA area committed to helping people figure out what makes them tick so they can finally live with joy and real purpose. Learn more about working with her.