Friday, July 20, 2012

But, What If Everything Goes Right?

Perhaps the evil twin of Shoulding, the ever-popular What-Iffing frequently plagues many creative-minded people. A side effect of the wonderful imaginations we possess includes the ability to conjure up horrible catastrophes in mere seconds, often leading to a lack of motivation and confidence.

Sal and I had a thought this week. Since we're already What-iffing, already imagining an infinite number of worrisome and tragic scenarios for whatever it is we're avoiding, why not take the time to imagine a few awesome, or at least mildly pleasant scenarios instead? It's just as, if not more, likely to occur and can potentially change your mood.

The problem is that positive what-ifs sound ridiculous. For example, say you're worried about an upcoming presentation for which you've prepared and your silly brain starts up with a few wacky what-ifs such as, "What if I forget my notes?" or "What if I sweat and get giant pit stains in front of everyone?" or "What if my colleagues laugh me out of the room and I get fired for my inane attempt at seeming knowledgable?" Instead try, "What if the presentation goes well?" or "What if my someone compliments me on my poised public speaking skills?" or "What if my coworkers applaud my inspirational presentation and my bosses immediately give me a promotion and a raise?"

What if I read all of these books instead of imagining
them crushing me in an earthquake?
Is it just me, or do the positive "worries" sound completely absurd while the worrying worries seem plausible? Yet, in reality, the positive ponderings are actually more likely to occur. Because how many times does a presentation totally flop and result in public shame and job loss? Compare that to how many times a past professional presentation goes off without a hitch and I'm sure the latter will be in the lead.

Perhaps, if you are a worrier like me, the horrible things hold more emotional power over us, leading to more worrisome episodes. I told Sal it's like that scene from Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts responds to Richard Gere's compliments with, "the bad stuff is easier to believe." Maybe that's just because that's all we ever choose to focus our energies on. And maybe the way to tuning out those worries is simply turning them into reassurances or, by golly, even hopes-for-the-best?

In an effort to work toward rewiring my worry-center, here are my what-ifs for this weekend:

What if I make a new friend on Saturday?
What if I write a new poem?
What if I finish writing that book review?
What if I don't feel bad if I don't write a poem or that book review?
What if Sal and I go out to dinner and then go see the new Pixar movie?

Sounds like a good weekend. I hope yours is potentially as good as mine.
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