‘What if’ is a question we’ve all asked. The reality is that this is a question everyone asks themselves more than once throughout their lifetime.
What if I had handled the conversation differently? Or, what if I just walked away, picked up the phone, or went to visit more often? The lists go on and on when it comes to ‘what if’. Nothing changes no matter how much you want it to. The past will remain the past.
The reality is that you will never know if things could have turned out differently. Worrying about it doesn’t change the past, it only makes you anxious now, in the present. We are usually looking to change something that happened to us earlier in our life when we ask the question ‘what if?’.
If you done something to hurt another, there is time to make amends. Say you’re sorry, explain how you were feeling, and patch things up. You don’t want to find yourself going from ‘what if’ to ‘if only’.
‘What if ‘ and ‘if only’ go hand in hand. If only I had … – fill in the blank. Again, you’ll only know if you try it out the next time the opportunity presents itself. Learning from what has occurred and making changes moving forward, is the only thing you can do after the fact.
Do not allow yourself to live life in a constant state of regret. Recognize that the only thing you can do is try and do better next time. Knowing that we have failed or fallen short is self-awareness. The key is to learn from our mistakes, and hopefully, not to make the same ones over and over. This is how we learn in life, how we grow as individuals. It is part of our evolution, and it is how you become wiser as you age.
There are times when you should use the ‘what if’ question. For example, when trying to assess risk, ask this question a lot in order to be prepared to handle problems if and when the situation arises. This is project management 101 and, all around good planning. When you are planning something, no matter how big or small, having a contingency plan will save you heartache should something unexpectedly pop up. The ideal scenario is that it won’t be unexpected at all.
Here is an example. What if I go camping and it rains? Well, the answer is you’ll need something to keep you dry, keep you entertained, etc. What if I try it and it doesn’t work? Again, depending on the what the ‘it’ is, make a plan to address it.
It is those times when you are upset about something that happened, or a relationship that ended, or a loved one who is no longer around where ‘what if’ will not change how you are feeling. No matter how much you want it to change, the outcome is still the same and nothing you do will change it.
Accept that we cannot live within, or change, the past, we can only learn from it. You are not alone. ‘What if is a question we’ve all asked, more than we’d like to admit.
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