*Originally published 3/23/2015
I believe the root of all fear is uncertainty. What’s funny is that we tend to think that if we don’t know what’s going to happen or how things will turn out, then it must be bad. We start running a long loop of “what ifs”. “What if something terrible happens? What if I get hurt? What if I am humiliated? What if everything goes horribly wrong?”
We rarely ask ourselves, “what if something wonderful happens? What if everything was completely ok? What if I was totally at ease with myself and my life? What if I was truly happy? What if I was capable of handling anything that came my way?”
What I’ve found is that asking the positive “what ifs” opens us to possibility. I’ve tried positive affirmations- like telling myself “everything is going to be ok. You got this!” But what ends up happening is that I can’t know for sure that everything will be ok, so I start to doubt it and I question it and those nasty “what ifs” start harassing me.
There’s no way to have any sense of certainty for what tomorrow may bring. The only thing that is certain is uncertainty. But the possibility of something wonderful happening, and my life turning out better than I ever dreamed, is as likely as everything turning to total shit. And since life doesn’t happen to us, but is the creative process in which we are all engaged in, then we all have the power to make it beautiful.
Ultimately, the real solace comes from focusing on what is, instead of what if (for better or for worse). The present moment is all there is. And it just IS.
But if we do focus on “what if”, I find it much more constructive to shift the focus from dread to optimism.
So when I override the terrible doomsday “what ifs” with the encouraging “what ifs”, I start to feel totally open to the possibility that everything can and will be ok. That life may turn out better than I ever expected. That I can be totally at ease with myself and my life. That I can handle whatever life brings my way.
And then, miraculously, my heart-space opens up, the wrenching anxiety subsides, and I do, in fact, feel at ease with myself and my life.