by Cornelius D. Jones
The world is full of doubters, and there are plenty of people willing to doubt what you are capable of. There is no need of you joining the secret doubter's society just to doubt yourself. Doubt which is the “What Ifs” in our lives does nothing to improve our self-esteem or minimize our risk of negative self-talk. It is of great importance in life to believe in yourself. Learn to let go of the "what ifs" and exchange them for "even if." The what ifs are designed to stop you; however, the even ifs will allow you to continue to move forward without questioning your own ability. What if is worry, uncertainty, and fear, while even if is comfort in knowing that things will still be alright if they don’t go exactly as planned. The two of these are tied directly to our self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem can be defined as someone who has a decent opinion of self without grandiosity. Just because we have healthy self-esteem, that does not mean that self-doubt will never creep in. However, the even if gives us a boost of self-confidence.
The what if push-pull dynamic underlying such ambivalence invariably leads to hesitation and procrastination. It causes you to apply the brakes with one foot even as the other is pressing on the accelerator. Meanwhile nothing positive happens because you remain in the same place. The result is stagnation involving a tremendous amount of tension and distress. What if keeps you at war with yourself, clearly your own worst enemy. Your anxiety shut down your creativity, disenabling you from giving your all to anything you might wish to achieve.
Unquestionably, when old, worrisome thoughts about your capabilities remain tightly lodged in your brain, your fondest hopes, dreams, desires, and aspirations will be compromised at times, fatally undermined. It’s extremely difficult to maintain enough motivation to apply yourself to goals, when you are rooted in the non-fertilizable soil of what if.
Consider that continuing, despite various obstacles, to persist at something requires personal will and determination. Even if allows you to face obstacles by being optimistic. This invaluable asset can be mobilized only when you believe that putting in enough effort may not guarantee a positive outcome, but you give it an earnest attempt. Absent this conviction that simply committing to, and persevering with, an undertaking will likely lead to success.
3 Ways to Overcome the What Ifs
1. Learn Self-Compassion
When we use even if, it us demonstrating compassion for ourselves in advance. Instead of beating ourselves down with the brutal what if whip. Show yourself the grace that you will show others. While it's easy to extend compassion to others, very few people can temper their self-criticism with self-compassion. Self-compassion is simply being kind to oneself.
It is true that self-compassion develops emotional resilience. There are a few things that you can do to help in this area of your life. Be aware of your own suffering, especially when it's caused by your self-judgment or self-criticism; don't be cruel toward yourself and remember that imperfection is a part of our shared human experience. None of us signed contracts when we were born that said that we would be perfect. With that, remember that the word perfection is the most imaginary word in our vocabulary because it doesn’t exist.
2. Stop Asking for Validation
Trust yourself enough to know that the positive decisions you make, are the right decision. If you are in the habit of continuously asking others what they think before making decisions on important matters, you might be weakening your even if faith in yourself. The input from others often reaffirms the what if that you are already struggling with. The truth is, you might end up losing your voice and the vison that you had because it becomes diluted with the more what ifs that are raised. There is nothing wrong with taking some advice, but at some point, decide on what feels right to you. The same people that can make you feel validated, can also make you feel invalidated.
3. Stop Sharing Your Plans
There are studies in psychology that have proven that when we tell someone our goal, and they acknowledge it, we are less likely to do the work that is necessary to accomplish the goal. This is because our brain mistakes the talking for the doing. The world is now filled with people that are doing everything but hasn’t done anything. The gratification that we receive from the social acknowledgment tricks our brain into feeling that the goal has already been accomplished. The satisfaction we experience in the telling removes the motivation to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
Remove the what if thinking and thinkers from your life and develop an even if attitude. Even if everything you attempt doesn't work, at least you had the confidence to go for it!
"Even if gives us power, while what if takes it from us." - CorneliusDJones