by Nicole Silverberg
Many of us are plagued by the “what if” question. This is an inner dialogue that we have with ourselves on a daily basis. It can be helpful in protecting us from the inevitable fear of failure, but it can also hinder us from reaping the benefits of taking a risk and it working out as a success.
Some scenarios that college students talk about in regards to the “what if” question pertain to areas in relationships, choosing a major, and advocating for themselves.
- Assuming that asserting what you want or need in a relationship will end the relationship: what if he ends the relationship because he thinks I am needy or being over-dramatic?
- Fearing making the wrong choice: what if I choose the wrong major and then I am stuck on the wrong path?
- Thinking your feelings do not matter: what if there are other people who need more help than I do?
These are just a few situations in which we let fear get the best of us and it causes inner turmoil. We are automatically counting ourselves out by letting fear take over and not pursuing the opportunities in front of us. Many times, we learn the most from situations that did not go as planned or as we had hoped that they would.
How to move past the “what ifs” and reap the benefits:
- Identify the thought pattern as a “what if”
- Challenge the “what if” by playing it out and asking yourself what the worst thing that can happen is?
- Consider what the worst thing that can happen is and ask yourself how it will impact you.
- Ask yourself what the best thing that can happen is?
- Explore other options and possibilities besides the initial two
- Prepare yourself for both possibilities and decide for yourself if you are willing to take the risk
- Reframe your perspective in that it is a success either way because you put yourself out there and have now learned from the experience
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Confucius
It is always difficult to let ourselves be vulnerable and take a risk. On the other hand, it is also difficult to be left with the “what if” question and wondering what would have happened if we did take the risk. Some of the greatest gifts in life have been created through some of our greatest mistakes. Each experience is one to learn from. Moving past the fear of failure and following what you want to do creates confidence in yourself.
You have the courage to stop “what iffing” and take a risk and the power to create your own success.