Here are a few pretty reliable clues: 1) The first words are “What if?” 2)They’re about something threatening and in the future. Remember, fear is a signal in the presence of danger in the environment, the rattlesnake in the trail. Worry or anxiety is based on memory or imagination, usually in the future and in the absence of danger. If so, you’ve met the "WHATIFMONSTER". It’s like the old joke “How can you tell if a politician’s lying? Answer: His lips are moving.” Same idea.
Ok. So before we can do that we first have to be aware we’re having the thought. Sounds pretty obvious but sometimes the thoughts become so natural we’re not even aware we’re having them. I call them automatic thoughts, like a CD we put in and hit the play button. They start out small and insignificant, magnify and take on a life of their own and the next thing you know the world is coming to an end.
The boss sends an email saying he wants to meet later today—the “WIM” loves these opportunities to spread anxiety and terror,feeding us “What ifs” until we’re a shaking nervous wreck--and then we finally sit down with the boss only to hear him praise a project we just completed.
Or a boyfriend doesn’t immediately return a text only to find out later he’d dropped his cell phone into his grande caramel macchiato.
So now that we know we’re under attack, how do we fight back?
*Note: This post was first published April 30, 2014
Next time: COUNTERATTACK!