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"What If" is not Right Now

Many of us try really hard to plan ahead. We use all of our imaginative capabilities to foresee any possible eventuality, so that we can be prepared for anything that happens.

Planning is awesome. It helps us move forward efficiently and effectively, and enables us to approach our goals systematically and with confidence.

But less awesome is when we fixate on a tiny hint of doom and gloom on the horizon, and get stuck incapacitated at the thought of all the horrible things that “might” happen.

This seems to be particularly a problem for freelancers and entrepreneurs, those of us who operate without the safety net of a steady paycheck. One project falls through or one client drops off, and suddenly visions of destitution and homelessness cloud our minds, because that one will lead to others and we’ll never work again. (Or is that just me?)

Once those visions start creeping in, they can be really difficult to shake. Add symptoms of anxiety and/or depression that are so often triggered by that headspace, and soon it becomes virtually impossible to get anything done. You just have to scrap the day in favor of self care.

One way I recommend to get back on track quickly (before losing the day to chocolate and Netflix) is to bring focus back to the present. Take a long, slow, deep breath. Feel the air coming into your nose and mouth. Slide your hands over your arms and legs, and focus on how that physical experience. If you’re sitting down, feel the chair underneath you, supporting you. Or the ground beneath your feet, always there, always providing support.

Then remind yourself of the truth of this moment. For me, I have a checklist. Do I have a roof over my head? Food that’s available to me? Someone I love that I can reach out to for support and encouragement? If the answer is yes to all three, my basic needs are met. In this moment, that is literally all that matters. Everything is OK. Your checklist may or may not differ from mine, but what’s important is being able to feel the truth that right now, you have what you need. You are safe.

Psychologists also suggest meditation to resolve feelings of anxiety and doubt. Mindfulness is an invaluable tool for a successful journey, as we often talk about in the Butterfly Soup process.

When you’re refocused on the reality of this moment, then getting back to work is a breeze–and often you’ll find you now know exactly how to plan for that “what if”.


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