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  • Writer's pictureStand Sure In Life

Asking What If

Asking “what if” is a double-edged sword. In some ways it can be very positive and help you move forward. In other ways it can be detrimental.

Negative Implications

When a friendship or relationship ends it’s very easy to fall into the “What if” trap. You start second guessing and analysing everything that happened.

For example, all my exes cheated on me and once I found out I ended the relationships. I felt that it was absolutely the right thing to do. I then started obsessing about “what if I had never found out”. “What if I never ended the relationships…” Would I have settled down now? Would I be happy now?

It’s very easy to start thinking about things that could have been but at the end of the day you have to trust yourself that you’ve done the right thing. The truth is that I’m not sure things would have been any different had they been honest about their dishonesty. I would certainly have been able to respect them for admitting their mistake and I would perhaps have worked to try and mend the relationship. However, once you break my trust you will never get it back.

I then started to analyse my character and personality. Was I a difficult person to get on with? Probably - my mental health issues didn’t help. I was also lodging with someone who wanted to be involved in every aspect of my life which exacerbated the issues and also got in the way of the relationships and friendships…to a point. I started asking myself - what if I had moved out sooner would the relationships have lasted?

It’s very easy to pass the “blame” onto a third party but the thing is that if a relationship is going to work it has to be a two-way street, not a crossroads where others get involved. If a person has a concern about something they should be able to talk about it rationally without putting blame on others. This actually only ever happened once…the other two would use different excuses as to why the relationship wasn’t working - and then just end it.

I came to the conclusion that their behaviour was more a reflection on them than it was on me. I’m not perfect - far from it. But if I get told I’ve done something wrong or upset someone I’ll do everything I can to do something about it.

I eventually stopped asking “what if” about my relationships and friendships and by doing so it helped alleviate my anxiety. I’m still single and do still obsess about some things (for example the time I listened to my “friends” who said it was weird that I hadn’t met someone yet and was just talking which pushed me to be pushy and ultimately pushed the person away. “What if I hadn’t listened to them?”…I’ll never know so I must try and let it go.

Positive Implications

Thankfully there are many positive implications of the phrase “what if”.

It can spark creativity and innovation. It can encourage you to answer hypothetical and unconventional ideas which could lead to new solutions, approaches, and maybe even products. Using “what if” is also a powerful problem solving tool. It allows you to think about as many aspects of a problem as possible. Be careful though because this could lead to procrastination if you don’t knuckle down and come up with an answer.

Using “what if” can also help you come up with contingency plans…however, sometimes just going for it can actually be the best way forward. If you overthink a situation or problem rather than just going for it you may never get started. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes because that’s how you learn.

Using “what if” can push you out of your comfort zone which is a positive thing. Being able to learn from diverse perspectives and adapting to new ideas and information is a wonderful attribute to have.

If you ever find yourself thinking - “what if” - be sure to make it a positive thought.

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