“What if?”

I have a request for you dear reader, one that will help you in your fight with anxiety. It’s as simple as removing one phrase from your vocabulary and as complicated as changing your entire outlook. It’s not something you’ll do overnight, it might take you a week, a month, even longer, but it will be worth doing.

Stop. Saying. “What if?”

That’s it, remove that phrase from your vocabulary. It may sound like one of those dumb, entirely unhelpful, and cliché things people say but I promise you it’s not. I used to be a chronic worrier, every moment of every day I was worried about one thing or another. On the bus to work, “what if I miss my stop?” As I walk in and start my workday, “what if I mess up today and get fired?” Going to meet a friend that night, “what if I have the wrong night?” I think you get the idea. It’s an exhausting way to live, but I was able to train myself to stop asking these questions.

Do I still worry a lot? Yes. I’d be lying if I told you that this will cure you of all anxiety and worry because it won’t. But it is a major step towards changing your frame of mind and working on positive self-talk (something I plan on writing more about in the future). If you’re like me then you’ll worry without even asking yourself “what if”, but by allowing yourself to ask you’re adding fuel to a fire that’s already raging.

Next time you’re worrying, instead of saying “what if” try having an argument with yourself instead. That sounds a little crazy, but hear me out. When you think of a “what if” statement, find an argument to counter it. To use my earlier examples I could say “I won’t miss my stop, I know when to get off I’ve done it 100 times”, then “I’m a hard worker, and everybody makes mistakes sometimes they won’t fire me because of that”, and finally “I have in my calendar we’re meeting tonight, but I can text them to confirm”.

So give it a shot! Find a place you can be relaxed and comfortable, then think of a common “what if” scenario that you worry about. What arguments can you come up with that make that scenario unlikely? Write them down if you have to, but the important thing is that you practice. When you’re out and about and you find yourself worrying try arguing against the “what ifs”. If you can’t do it that’s ok, just keep practicing in your comfort zone and keep trying when you’re not. I believe in you!

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