Have you ever tumbled uncontrollably down the “WHAT IF" abyss?
What if I never find the ideal romantic partner?
What if my clients aren't phoning because they are displeased?
What if my kids’ grades aren’t good enough for their choice college?
WHAT IF? WHAT IF? WHAT IF?
How productive is that? Not!
During spring break, my schedule took an unexpected turn from relatively full to nearly empty. Clients decided to take advantage of the school vacation and/or glorious weather’s creating vacuums in my planner. I'm typically a high energy person who likes to stay busy. By the second day of unplanned scarcity, my brain became addled with “What if" ruminations. What if they don't reschedule after break? What if these unfilled slots become the norm? What if, what if?
Now the rational part of my brain did its best to reassure me that I was in fact not being exactly rational. However hormones and allergies might have played a role in the disservice to my self-esteem. As I found myself at the mercy of the aforementioned abyss, 2 things occurred nearly simultaneously. 1. I took a walk on that blossomed-filled morning to flip the channel in my brain. As I listened to one of my favorite podcast hosts, his guest examined reframing “what if” negative statements into “what if” positives. Previously I hadn’t given much thought to a what if reconstruct.
Feeling somewhat regenerated after the walk, I turned on AM Northwest as I made my breakfast. The guest proffered the same paradigm. Ok, someone was definitely trying to embed a fresh outlook into my cerebral cortex. Immediately as I began to incorporate this thought backflip, I felt lighter, more energized, and ready to tackle my day just not in the manner originally intended.
With free time, this was my opportunity to dive into my much needed spring kitchen cleaning. Vacuuming drawers, wiping down cabinet faces, soaking artificial plants to remove the layers of dust, climbing upon counters to conquer dust bunnies living contently above my cabinetry. By the day's end, my kitchen smelled of fresh lemon juice and lavender essential oil. My stainless appliances gleamed with renewed metallic shimmer. Dirty fingerprints no longer gave evidence of which cabinets were most frequently opened. And the critter buffet behind the fridge was systematically eradicated. Gross!
My “what ifs” spewed forth with a new pleasant vigor. What if I used my time that week to get long awaited projects tackled? What if I was meant to have some downtime too to recharge my batteries to be more fully resourced and available to my clients and family? What if I took some time to reconnect with friends over coffee or lunch? What if a slow week was actually a blessing in disguise? I not only cleaned my kitchen and my vile keyboard that week (as evidenced by my recent keyboard cleaning Practical Tip), I cleared out the debris that was clouding my thinking and perspective. The following day I lounged at a coffee shop for hours catching up with a dear friend. I could not have asked for a more delightful way to spend my morning.
What if the next time you find yourself tumbling down that dreaded rabbit hole, you throw yourself a “what if” lifeline by rephrasing it to your advantage. Try it and see how it makes you feel. Good luck, and I hope it works just as well for you as it did for me.