Detailing a ‘what if’ scenario is a good way to kill anxiety and expunge worry.
Someone I met recently wrote to me about how her husband was unable to cope with unemployment. He is over 50 and lost his job in a lay-off two years ago. His efforts to get a job are not bearing fruit and he’s feeling depressed. The lady said he had shown suicidal tendencies and was undergoing counseling. She requested us to meet the gentleman.
So we met him for coffee last week. He said he was anxious about the fate of his savings, which were slowly getting depleted and he wondered how he would put his only child, who is in high school now, through college. “I am desperate for a job. My income cannot be nil like this. I am at the end of the road. It is scary,” lamented the man.
It is often the fear of, or not knowing, what will happen that drives people to desperation. We are all gripped by this fear at some point or the other. None can escape it. The most effective way to deal with such a fear, with anxiety and insecurity, is to face it.
So, we advised the man that instead of only asking ‘what if’, he must go ahead and answer that question. “For instance,” we told him, “If you are facing uncertainty – meaning, if you fear all your savings going up in smoke – don’t just allow that ‘what will happen to me’ feeling to keep building up within you. Complete the scenario to the last detail – “I will sell my apartment or move to another less-expensive city or whatever…I will survive a few months and then when I am totally broke, I will go live with my parents or brother or sister…and if they won’t have me, I will take up a small-time job and live within my means until I get the break that I will need to rebuild my Life and career.” – And don’t worry about your daughter. Life will take care of her!””
The man seemed unconvinced initially. But he has read my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal. When I drew parallels to our own story and shared how Vaani and I have been coping with uncertainty, and how our children Aashirwad and Aanchal got through college through ‘acts of the Universe’ and the compassion of fellow voyagers, he felt a lot reassured.
Actually, it is not at all difficult to face worst-case scenarios. When the fear of the unknown, yet-to-be-born future arises in us, we play out each detail granularly. Each time it has helped us anchor in equanimity and face the situation stoically. You too can do this. You will be amazed how much you will benefit from such an exercise. For one, you will discover that whatever is the worst case that you imagine, and fear, is not so bad after all. Your detailing that ‘what if’ script will reassure you that you can cope with any impending crisis. You will, over time, also realize that the worst almost always never happens!
Life always, unfailingly, provides you what you need – perhaps not in the form in which you envisioned it, but in the way Life has planned it for you. No need of yours has ever been unmet. And no need of yours will remain unmet either. When you start seeing this magic and beauty in your Life, you will understand that all your anxiety and insecurity is such a waste of your time and energy! To be sure, everything is happening to a plan, Life’s plan – just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean, there isn’t one!
Imagining the worst that can happen is not being defeatist. It is the only way to kill feelings – like fear and anxiety – that may otherwise consume you. Your fears often blind you to your own resilience. Resultantly, you stop believing in your ability to face Life’s innumerable challenges. Looking your fears in the eye may not take any problem situation away. But it will most definitely help prepare you to meet that situation confidently when it arrives. So, perhaps, you do realize now that facing Life is not so ‘mushkil’, difficult, after all!
PS: If you liked this blogpost, please share it to help spread the learning it carries!