Answer the What-Ifs

By February 11, 2009 7 Comments

One of the favorite questions of your subconscious mind is “what if…?”  This question can be a powerful force for positive or negative results in your life.  When your mind asks this question about something you fear like, “what if I lose my job?”, or “what if I run out of money?”, or “what if my loved one dies?”, there is a predictable response.  The subconscious cannot tolerate a non-answer, so it makes one up – usually “well I couldn’t handle that!”  This triggers your fight-or-flight response, and you will experience fear, anxiety, and avoidance.  To move beyond this paralysis, you have to intentionally and consciously answer the “what if” questions.  OK then, what WOULD you do if you lost your job, or ran out of money, or lost a loved one?  You will feel yourself avoiding this line of thinking, but push through and answer the “what if?”.  You will find that you COULD actually handle it – not that you want to, but you could handle it.  This frees up  your mind for more productive thinking and helps you to move past the barriers.  Answer the “what if?”!


Do the thing you fear,

And the death of fear is certain.

       Ralph Waldo Emerson

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Angella Joy says:

    I have never been a person who has alot of fear. I watched so much of it around me when I was young that I decided to be a proactive thinker and see if I could make a game of finding solutions. I don’t like over emotionalizing things or feeling helpless so I tried to change my atmosphere. I have read alot of amazing books over the years that deal with the power of the mind and I felt God would rather have me think in those terms. At the age of 15 these thoughts changed my life.

    I was raised in poverty with 8 siblings and came out of it a scrappy (I can make anything happen) kind of person. When divorce shook my world this attitude was my survival tool. Then i experienced fear for the first time since I was a child. There was a constant threat of loosing my children and having opposing forces try to manipulate them daily. Getting legal help made things even harder for them and so I was no longer able to change my circumstances with the proactive approach.

    God has been testing me with pure endurance and i have had to sacrifice what seems like a logical proactive answer to the problem, for my children’s needs. It has required every positive scrappy piece of energy I own. Somethings just don’t get justice or get healed completely until we meet the True Judge. Other people won’t understand! I have had to give up “What if’s” completely ( If I don’t get the correct child support, or if I can’t get another car, or if I don’t get that job)…. then I must prayerfully look for other opening doors. There is a reason for everything. sometimes the answer is sitting in your basement. I strongly refer to JOB as my favorite character reference.

    There is a cartoon version of Joseph in Egypt showing Joseph in his undeserving prison situation. Despite his good deeds he was stuck there for 2 years. The animation shows that only a weed growing in the dungeon floor gave him hope. He made it his daily focus to make that weed grow. it became a beautiful tree. And then he was released and blessed. Maybe our “What if’s” are suppose help us make the most of our current situation with hope and love…. then comes the blessing.


  • Dr. Paul says:

    Great comments folks! There is a careful balance between dwelling on or “attracting” negative outcomes, and answering the What-Ifs. I think Melanie is on to the key with the type of emotional attachment we place on any particular outcome. The language of the subconscious is emotion. Diffuse the fear through the answer, and work on attaching some positive emotion to the desired outcomes. What a fun game life is!

  • What great insight…diffuse the power of the fear!
    I love it!

  • David Locke says:

    There is WhatIF and AsIF thinking. WhatIF is the projection from the current situation. WhatIF follows from where you are today. AsIF leaps over where you can project to and asks you how you can get there from where you are today. The AsIF starts in the future and works back. The WhatIF starts today and works forward. The AsIF is the vision; WhatIF is the strategy. Excel is a WhatIF tools.

  • This works in reverse, too!!! When I was in outside sales, I would use mental tricks to get myself “selling” (I didn’t care for interruption selling). I would ask myself: “What if they say yes?” “What would happen if I closed the sale?”, etc. This “positive worry” allowed my mind to have the “worry” it was looking for (I ensured I felt emotion with the question). It would also put me in a better mood, be more excited about the situation (since nervousness & excited anticipation feel the same), and it got me thru things I didn’t really like doing.


    PS> I’m doing work I actually LOVE doing, tho I can still use a reminder to use this “positive worry” to get me in a better way. Thanks for the post.

    PPS> Examples of “Positive Worry”:

    “What if losing this job led me to greater opportunity than ever before (uh… just as similar things have happened before).”

    “What if my “loss” actually enabled me to assist others, or overcome challenges in other areas, etc. What if my loss actually became an asset?”

    “What if running out of money helped me gain great understanding of life, what money actually is and how it works? What if running out of money became an asset with greater value than money?”

    PPPS> I’ve found that all of our “worries” come down to our concern over being “uncomfortable.” Once I realized that all fear was fear of being uncomfortable, unless it was a momentary life-threatening situation it seemed quite silly (to me) to fear discomfort. This perspective has helped me move forward, negotiate with others, and even love my family more effectively than ever. Recognizing the fear for what it IS (fear of being uncomfortable) does not remove the fear, but it does, with practice, render it powerless.

  • Melanie says:

    Two years ago, my mother died quite suddenly. I thought I still had a good 20 years before having to think about dealing with her death, so I was unprepared. It was hard, but on this side, I’ve learned that I can deal with grief in a productive way. I wallowed a little, then picked myself up and started accomplishing things, since I knew that’s what she would want for me. I’ve learned that one setback doesn’t determine my entire life. The “what if” question is a good one to ask and I truly have realized what’s important to me.

    Jamee, I’m not sure what Dr. Paul would say, but one thing I’ve learned is the power of our emotions. Try to think through the exercise with your rational mind–don’t put yourself in that situation with the feelings attached to it. I did a similar exercise like this before and we had to end it with the positive–that we would still be happy, together as a family, show our children failure isn’t fatal, etc. I hope this helps a little!

  • Jamee says:

    I see the value in addressing fears directly- but from an attraction standpoint, how do you face fears without attracting them to you? I tend to avoid thinking too much about my fears- even in answering the “What if”, because I don’t want to focus unduly on things I want to avoid. What do you recommend?