Note: The what if game I discuss in this post involves playing with pieces of the past. The what if involving curiosity and future planning is fair game.
Do you spend the majority of your day dreaming of what could have been? Do you question the decisions you made, wishing you had taken the alternative path? Does the question of what if consume your thoughts stalling you from enjoying the now? You’re not alone.
The what if game causes millions of individuals to be unhappy on a routine basis, preventing those who take part from being content. The illusion of being able to change the past is one we too often fall for. While playing the what if game may seem like a good idea it causes far to much pain to be worth the price.
In my last post, I shared some of what I’ve done in the past year to show how powerful a year can be. But the truth is, I’ve also stumbled immensely.
For the past year I’ve been a huge player of the what if game, and at times have struggled to find my flow. Instead of accepting what is, I’ve allowed myself to become stuck in the past. I’ve spent countless hours questioning where I would be had I conducted my life in a different manner.
What if I hadn’t said some of the things I said? What if I had worked a bit harder on various areas of my life? What if I had never began writing for this blog? What if I took a year off college instead of following the traditional path? What if I continued bolstering some of my relationships instead of letting distance get in the way?
While reflecting on your actions is required for growth, going overboard can do a great deal of harm. I may have a passion for self improvement, but I’m surely not infallible.
The Present Thief
Every moment you play the what if game, you’re turning your back on what lies before you. The what ifs soon consume your present and bankrupt you from taking any action all. I know I’m not the first person to suggest this but: The present is all you have.
By turning your back on the present moment, you’re turning your back on life itself. We are all guilty of this from time to time, but it’s important we become aware of our habits and be fully present as much as we can.
It’s so easy to question our decisions. It’s simple to say our lives would have been better had we taken path B. What’s hard is accepting what is.
Who is to say your life would have been better? Each piece of the past made you who you are today.
Certainty is an illusion. All the what ifs in the world can never accurately predict what may have been. So stop wasting your time. Instead of wondering what if, focus on what you can do now to make your desires a reality. So what if you messed up on your last date? Is there anything you can do about it now? Stop beating yourself up over the blown interview. There’s always a chance next time.
Obviously, it’s important to learn from your mistakes, and there is no better teacher than the past. But don’t let the lurker in your mind rob you of your now.
Quitting The What If Game
How do you quit the what if game? Practice. The what if game can be addicting. Despite making you miserable, clinging to the past gives you comfort. Your mind will want you to ask what if because it gives you a false sense of control.
If you’re tired of you living in the past make the decision to quit the game. Realize that what has happened is done, there’s no going back. If you make a mistake, accept that you made a mistake. Spend time working on how to improve rather than the alternatives that you had before hand. Each action you take is a potential lesson to learn from. Sometimes your choices will lead you down a path of bliss, and other times it will steer you astray.
For every what if, you have the option of today. Today gives you the option of mending the bridges you may have burned. Today you have the option of chasing the dreams you slowly let float away. Today you have the option of making the most of what you have. The past doesn’t give you any of that.
With each path you choose there will always be an alternative path. Will you stay stranded playing the what if game? Or will you begin playing with the cards you’ve been dealt?
The move is yours.
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