Are You Self-Sabotaging By Asking “What If”?
Overthinking can paralyze us. Before we’ve even set out to do something, we’re already imagining countless different scenarios in our head.
This usually plays out with a series of internal “what if” questions…
“What if I fail? What if I look stupid? What if people judge me?”
We envision the worst outcomes possible. We terrify ourselves from taking action.
When you believe an experience is going to be negative, you’re likely to avoid that experience.
You’re setting yourself up to fail. And it’s because you’re asking the wrong questions. How we talk to ourselves has a powerful impact on reality.
Think about this…
Do these “What if” questions make you more anxious or less anxious?
Are you really more prepared by stressing over them in your head?
Have they gotten you the success you wanted?
Instead, what usually happens is…
Ask negative “what if” questions -> Imagine negative outcome -> Inspire inaction -> Don’t gain experience or improve -> Reinforce negative beliefs and insecurities about yourself -> Inspire inaction in the future
We need to break this self-destructive cycle.
But, I understand it’s not easy to just “stop overthinking”. That advice never works. You have to replace a bad habit with a good one.
Reframe your questions from fear-inducing and demotivating to exciting and encouraging. If you believe in the negative possibilities, then you must also believe in the positives possibilities – right?
As Don Draper said, “if you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”
Ask yourself, what if…
- “She rejects me?” vs “She loves my approach and we hit it off right away?”
- “I never find someone else and I’m all alone?” vs “I found someone else who treated me how I deserve?”
- “People judge me for talking to her?” vs “People see me as a confident man for talking to a beautiful girl?”
- “I bomb the interview and they don’t want me?” vs “They love me and I end up with my dream job?”
- “I ask for her number and she doesn’t give it to me?” vs “She’s so excited she starts pulling out her phone before I can?”
- “She pushes me away when I go to kiss her?” vs “She passionately kisses me back?”
- “I ask her out over text and she says no?” vs “I ask her out and she says she would love to?”
- “I create physical contact and she freaks out?” vs “She starts touching me back in a flirtatious way?”
- “I ask her to come back to my place and she refuses?” vs “She says yes without hesitation?”
The only way this can work is if you truly visualize the whole thing playing out.
What if everything goes perfectly? What if it goes the best way possible? How much happier would you be? How much more fulfilled would it make you?
My hope is that this motivates you to start this constructive cycle…
Ask positive “what if” questions -> Imagine positive outcome -> Inspire action -> Gain experience and improve -> Reinforce real, lasting confidence -> Inspire action in the future
What you’ll realize is that the outcomes to your “what if” questions are often wildly different (and much more positive) than you expected.
The truth is you can’t predict everything and you can’t always control the outcome. While envisioning happiness and success definitely improves your chances, it’s still not a 100% guarantee.
So what actually matters are the actions you take and the vital experiences you get from that. Yes, even the experiences that don’t end how you hoped provide valuable insight, skills, and emotional growth for future endeavors. They’re all good for you.
Because as long as you’re creating opportunities for yourself and building the right foundation, great success is inevitable. But it all starts by asking the right questions.