. . . everyone on earth jumped at the same time?
. . . tomatoes didn’t exist (think pizza)
. . . Rome actually hadn’t fallen?
. . . our religion was each other?
. . . the 2016 election went another way (oops – rhetorical)?
. . . we could be anything or anyone we wanted to be?
What if’s are funny things. They can spark change or regret. They answer curiosity – with more questions. They can also allow us to let our imaginations run wild, which might be my favorite part.
But, aside from worrying about never being an Italian girl never having tried a tomato, ‘what if’ those words could jumpstart a change we hadn’t thought of. Whether we crave a change in thinking, ideas or behavior, asking ‘what if’ opens our mind to whatever it can conceive, and that can be a world of possibility. The answer to ‘what if’ is also a powerful declaration of intention that can empower us and ignite our imagination. The right question is a diving board we jump off into options and opportunity.
“What if I fail? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” Erin Hanson
On the other hand, ‘what if’ can also be a nifty way of keeping us stuck. Negative questions keep us stuck in the past, produce endless why’s and paralyzing regret. ‘What if I hadn’t changed jobs when I did?’ ‘What if I hadn’t gone on that first date?’ For months after my husband died suddenly, I tortured myself with questions like ‘What if I hadn’t left the house for that hour?’ ‘What if they hadn’t done that last procedure?’ ‘What if we made wrong decisions on treatments?’ No matter how I framed them, none of the answers would have changed what was ultimately not in our destiny. When we are pain, we look for anything to make it better but nothing there’s no answer will change the past and even if we could, that is not the best place to hang out.
Nobody’s got time for dat.
John Callahan believed the ” ‘what-if’s and ‘should have’s’ will eat your brain.” Yet they are the phrases we use most — and what keep us deadlocked. The more we let these questions power our lives, the harder it is to let the positive empower us. Using these phrases as mantras that beat us up, instead of build us up also deny the opportunity to plot great, creative possibilities and to re-imagine our future.
“What if nothing exists and we’re all in somebody’s dream.” Woody Allen
On the upside, (tip – that’s where we need to be) without sincere questions nothing changes. Things continue to be same old, same old. But when we risk, when we are brave enough ask ‘what if’ with open minds, we throw open pathways we wouldn’t have thought of. When we open the door to new ideas and ways of being, we have choices – either avoid them like a case of the hives or jump headfirst into the deep end.
If you’re asked what will the weather be tomorrow, you can parrot the educated guesswork of our trusty weatherman. (though, how often are THEY wrong?) If the question is ‘If you could do anything you wanted tomorrow, regardless of weather, what would you do?” a whole boatload of possibilities land in your lap.
“The ‘what if’s’ and ‘should haves’ will eat your brain.” John O’Callaghan
How would the possibilities of ‘what if’ look to you? Do you want to start a second career? Change up your non-existent fitness routine? Take a leap at a new love? Before your self-talk yourself out of confidence, thinking you are ready, that you can’t handle what the ‘what if’ poses, try a different story. Turn the ‘what if’ around and flip it on its head.
There’s no one size fits all answer to any question — and no precedent. Opening our minds gives us the freedom to truly think out of the box. But it was also kinda safe in there, wasn’t it? Asking ‘what if forces us to imagine differently, think creatively. Sounds good. But, it’s often not all that easy. Just ask someone grieving about stepping out of that space that envelopes them. What’s waiting for them on the other side? ‘What if’ they can’t stop thinking about, missing, grieving their missing piece?
“What if we stopped saying ‘what if’ and started saying ‘let’s'”Jeff Goins
Am I guilty of second-guessing, holding back, wanting to stay in the safety of the harbor? Hell, yes. (why do you think I write this stuff? lol) Yet, I know as you do, that there are NO guarantees in life, even in life itself. We can use ‘what if’ to question the past all we like and it still won’t change a thing. On the other hand, ‘what if’ can help us make different choices today. It could change the whole ballgame, at least whatever innings we have left.
So, ‘what if’ today we just flew by the seat of our jeans?