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  • Susan J. Leviton

What If...?

Updated: Jul 3, 2021

Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

“What if…” is a great phrase if you’re a scientist or designer, but if you suffer from anxiety, it’s debilitating. It can stop you from trying new things, keep you in a dead-end job, make you lose out on a potential relationship. “What if I can’t do it?” “What if they laugh at me?” “What if I fail?” And so on. In reality, the majority of things we fear never come to pass.

Next time the "what ifs" attack you, try asking yourself what the worst-case scenario is. If the worst thing that could happen involves endangering yourself or losing your job, maybe your fear is protecting you. (There are exceptions--sometimes losing a job means finding a better one.) But if the worst thing is that you might get rejected or laughed at, well, that happens to everyone. You will survive. But--maybe the best thing will happen. Maybe you will get something you want or do something you end up enjoying!

If "what ifs" are preventing you from living a full life, talking to a therapist may help.

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