Worrying is never a solution. It only perpetuates anxiety and breeds negativity within us. The “what if” thoughts can surely help us prepare for the worst-case scenarios, but we must make sure that we don’t go overboard and not think about them continually for a significant portion of our days.
Negative “what if” thoughts such as “What if this crisis lasts for the next 12 months?” or “What if I lose my job?” or “What if run out of canned food and toilet paper?” or whatever you dread can cause you unnecessary fear, anxiety and stress taking you down the negative spiral. When we cultivate catastrophic thinking for hours at end, we start thinking our fears are inevitable and will sooner or later get realized and because of this, we start reacting emotionally to everything.
It’s akin to putting a rain jacket in the late spring/summer months. Just imagine that it’s 97 degrees outside and you see someone with a sturdy rain jacket and an umbrella. You might think what’s going with that person, right? And what if upon asking they told that they were preparing for the Fall season, which would arrive in four to five months? You would be scratching your head because not a word they said made any sense, wouldn’t you?
Sweating and itching for a good number of months until it’s cold and rainy enough to wear that jacket is an absurd and futile idea. It doesn’t prepare you, but only causes you incredible amounts of discomfort and embarrassment. Yet, this is exactly what we do when we go through NWIS — Negative “What If” Syndrome.
Do you remember what FEAR truly is? False Evidence Appearing Real. When we throw logic and rational thinking out of the window, we start reacting emotionally assuming that the thing that we dread is already happening, even if it isn’t.
Yes, we must consider the fearful scenarios and prepare for them by taking steps to either prevent them or design strategies and establish potent systems to implement in case they take place. This is analogous to having that rain jacket and umbrella in our closet. However, reacting illogically purely based on negative emotions as if our fears have truly manifested is like wearing the rain jacket and stepping out thinking that it’s raining even when it’s burning hot.
We have to be in touch with the present reality and act accordingly. Not doing so and reacting emotionally will only cause us discomfort and harm.