Tuesday, May 16, 2017

                  WHAT IF?

     You know that voice in your head that whispers, “What if. . . ?” I hate that voice. That voice has no face because if it did, it knows I’d smack it to shut it up. That “What if. . . ?” haunts, incites fear, creates worry and stress and basically just pisses me off. So what to do about it? How do we get rid of it? I suppose it’s a child’s voice. If so, maybe it’s one that doesn’t have the ability to sort through issues logically and with experience. Maybe it’s the innocence and ignorance of one who hasn’t endured enough good and bad to realize that there will always be good and bad, and we will celebrate the former and survive the latter.

     I know one thing. The middle-of-the-night “What ifs?” are the worst. For me, if they wake me up, I get up. No lying in bed tossing and turning for me. It is best for me to haul my butt out of the nest, pour myself a cup-a-Joe and get down to some serious analysis and list-making. Yup. That’s what I do at 3:12 a.m. or 4:09 a.m or, heaven forbid, 1:38 a.m. 

     How many of the “What ifs” in our lives never happen. We waste all that time, energy and lack of sleep worrying about stuff that never occurs. I sometimes wonder if somewhere in my pathetic psyche, there’s a voice that says, “If you worry enough about this, it won’t happen.” Then when it doesn’t happen, it’s a reenforcement of this feckless thinking. 

     There are serious “What if?s” and frivolous ones. The former somehow seem more justifiable. We know the silly ones like “What if the bill doesn’t get there in time?” or “What if her plane got delayed?” are the most pointless. Like we think we can control the postal service or the airlines. Sure we can.

      So what can we do to avoid falling into this self-defeating thought pattern? If I knew this, I wouldn’t be sitting here at 4:39 having my breakfast wondering “if” I can wait 9 hours until lunch time. If not, what will that do to my diet? omg. And who’s the fool who told you to simply “Stop worrying?” 

     Here is my very short list of what I do when the worry takes over:

  1. Distract the mind
  2. Work out
  3. Eat
  4. Listen to music
  5. Write a letter to myself asking myself why I’m so stupid

     Now none of these will stop the “What Ifs;” they will just help you ignore them so you can function. I’ve been up for almost two hours, and I can honestly tell you not one of these is working for me. The good news, however, is that I’ve enjoyed some nice music, gotten my mind off my worries by writing this blog, and had a yummy breakfast. I can’t bring myself to write the letter, as I’m afraid I’ll get so depressed, I’ll start worrying. 

     What if you read this, and you start wondering about my mental health? Not to worry. Just go get yourself a cup-a-Joe, and remind yourself how lucky you are that you got to sleep longer than me. Have a great day.

P.S. I was searching for famous quotes about “what ifs,” and I made an important discovery. Every writer has some version of a “What if” in her head before putting pen to her plot. Every inventor asks this question before he creates something new. Every director, every photographer, every artist, every composer begins with a “What if.” So maybe if we reframe the “what if” to be a “and then, just think. . . ,” we will not stress out but look at the “what if” as an opportunity to create, solve a problem, or give the world something beautiful to ponder. Hmm.