A playlist of “what ifs”
Uncertainties pose opportunities for stress, and often our “what if’s” dictate our peace. Right now, here are mine:
1. I start hormone blocker medication for cancer prevention this week.
What if I experience the many negative side effects I’ve heard about? What if it thrusts me back into depression? What if I gain weight? What if it makes me crazy? What if I cannot take it, then what?
2. My license exam retake date is rapidly approaching.
What if I get stuck in traffic and get there late? what If my proof of ID is not enough and I’m not allowed to take it? What if I actually fail this time?… and ready for this …What if negative side effects from my medication prevent me from taking or doing my best?
Do you hear the crescendo of the rabbit hole?!
Mathew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
We spend so much time worrying about what might happen that we often miss out on what is actually happening.
In uncertainty, do you allow the rabbit trail or God to determine your peace? Our minds will go wherever we allow them to. We get to choose. It’s not easy, especially at first, but we must climb ourselves out of these distorted rabbit holes.
1. Recognize the Cognitive Distortion:
My example includes the distortions of Fortune Telling (predicting what is going to happen) with a little Catastrophizing (allowing the fear of a worst-case scenario). When I step outside and look in, I see myself not trusting my God who is good. I am also getting ahead of where he has me which circumvents his lead.
2. Test the distortion and strip it of its power.
Do I know the future? No. But God does, and if inconvenient or even worst-case occurs, he’s already ordained it for His good purpose (Romans 8:28). Also, when I ask "what next" instead of "what if", He will show me my next step (James 1:5). Forgive me Lord for wasting the gift of today with worry for tomorrow when you God have already taken care of it. Help me to apply this to all situations.
Catastrophizing can lose its power when the thought is challenged and proved irrational. Practically speaking, ask yourself “and then what” to really get to the worst-case result. (Ex: If I have bad side effects, then I will try another medication, or If I fail my exam, then I will take it again).
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Something to ponder:
1. Think back to a past what-if experience. How much time was wasted worrying? Did the what-if actually happen? If so, was it as bad as you made it up in your head to be?
2. What "what-ifs" are on your playlist?
3. How might you be falling for the fortune-telling or catastrophizing cognitive distortions?