In the last few months I've had several conversations with people on the topic of "what ifs." In fact, these conversations have become so regular I figured I'd write about it.
The conversation/email/text usually starts with the question, "How do you deal with all the what ifs?" You know the endless questions with no answers:
- What if I never get better?
- What if I can never do the things I once did?
- What if my spouse isn't in it for the long haul?
- What if I lose my job? my friends? my future?
- What if....?
The list goes on and on.
First of all, let me say that I think it's perfectly normal for these questions to cross your mind. After all, when facing any sort of life challenge you can't help but wonder what you're up against. In fact, sometimes these "what ifs" can prompt us to move and act and plan accordingly. But here is what I have learned: More often than not, these kinds of what ifs can be paralyzing. They zap you of your energy, strip you of hope and make your mind run in maddening circles.
So what do we do? How do we avoid sitting under that looming gray cloud? Maybe the answer is found when we change the conversation, adjust the tune and shift our thinking.
Instead of "What if I never get better?" ask, "What if health is just a few steps away?"
Instead of "What if I can never do the things I once did?" ask, "What if I learn incredible new things, things I never imagined doing?"
Instead of thinking that life as you knew it is over, think "What if something great is right on the horizon?"
This line of thinking makes me want to move forward, look for answers, fight for hope, believe. And this is so important because actions follow thinking. While I do consider myself an optimistic person, I am no Miss Sally Sunshine seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. I'm a realist, but a realist who believes in the power of hope.
If I focused my thoughts on what I was told - there is no cure, you will have to live with this disease for the rest of your life - I would have done nothing. Why bother? Instead, I asked, What if I could be the small percentage of those who go into remission? What if I let this pain teach me something? What if this makes me a better mom, wife, woman? What if God's best is right around the corner? What if...? And then came the actions. The looking for answers, trying alternatives, the changes - inside and out. I put my energy into not just feeling better, but being better, living better. All of a sudden I didn't have time to wonder if I'd ever be "cured" - I was too busy living my life and living it well.
If you've been paralyzed by "what ifs" I would encourage you to change the conversation. After all, what if a simple shift in your thoughts could set you on a new and amazing course? It's at least worth a try.