Do you find yourself constantly thinking “What if…,” or even worse, not recognizing you’re thinking it?
“What if” is the bait that lures you into worry. Chronic worry begins with the “what if” clause and is followed by the catastrophe clause. All “what if” means is let's pretend something terrible is going to happen. The problem pretending, is that overtime you get used to these thoughts and forget they are pretend scenarios. You stop responding to your thoughts as just a thought and instead skip right past the “what if” part, focus on the catastrophe clause, and absorb it’s message as if it were true.
If you are a chronic worrier, you probably don’t even notice that you’re thinking “what if.” You're more likely to notice and react to the catastrophe phrase that comes after. This catastrophe phrase is where all your upset and chronic worry comes from. What goes in the catastrophe clause? Whatever you happen to be worrying about.
If you want to change your relationship with worry, you must first become aware of it. Becoming aware of the “what if” words will help you train yourself to respond differently to the worry and to develop a new way of relating to it. I will be sharing a post later that will teach you a technique on how to be more aware of your what if statements.
P.s.- if you’re thinking “what if” statements, you’re most likely not in danger. The ability to ponder catastrophe means your cerebral cortex is up to bat, and your amygdala (responsible for fight or flight) is on deck. When your amygdala steps up to bat. you most definitely aren’t pondering your “what if” statements. Instead, you are responding to actual danger.