I found myself caught up in the “what if?” game today. What if I had kept up my writing during that decade of pregnancy, birthing, diapers, and nursing babies? Where would I be now?
That kind of thinking is a sneak attack by the spirit of fear. “What if?” wants you to look back with regret, or forward with dismay.
Regret is born from an inner fear that we’ve made a terrible mistake, missed a turn, or skipped a step. And that whatever our future could have been is lost to us forever. It can creep in when we run into an ex, when we have a fight with a spouse, or when we talk to a friend who just celebrated a big success.
And then there are the “what if” questions that stir up a murky view of the future. What if something bad happens to my family? What if this weird physical symptom is the first sign of some horrible disease? What if there’s an accident? What if I lose my job? What if aliens invade our planet and turn us into batteries to power their video games?
What if… what if… what if…
When we play the “what if?” game, we fall prey to the paralysis of fear. Fearing future possibilities is the equivalent of the girl who gets on the roller coaster and when it starts to move screams, “NO! I WANT OUT!” Looking at the past with regret for choices already made is like the child who is too afraid to ride the ferris wheel, and then mashes his sticky little face up against the window of the car as the family van pulls out of the parking lot, squealing, “But I wanted to ride the ferris wheel!” Neither option results in a good quality of life.
I’d never connected fear to the “what if” game until today. But from this point forward, when those sneaky little “what ifs” pounce on me, I’m going to push the REJECT button!