I am a pretty good player of the “What If” game.  I have a feeling you may know the game as well.  The idea of the game is that we think of trying something new or different and we ask ourselves, “what if”?

The game goes something like this:

  • Scenario – Considering taking a new job.  What If Scenario Options:
  1. I hate it it and I am miserable
  2. I am not good at it and I fail
  3. I end up getting fired and become homeless
  4. All of the above

The “what if” question tends to throw out scenarios that include disaster and mayhem. When I fear risk or loss it is easy for my mind to start to play the what if game.  I can kid myself and say that I am being thoughtful, prudent and not jumping before I think.  When I’m honest with myself, I know this is not the case.  I know first hand that even though the game is simple the stakes are not.

When I remarried it is fair to say that I was playing the what if game all the time.  Here’s the crazy thing, I was loving my new life and relationship.  I was happy, yet the damn what if game was sneaking up on me daily.  Fortunately, I realized that I was making myself miserable and that I could use a little help to figure it out.  Within the first few months of being married I started marriage counseling alone!  What ever was going on was my deal so I knew I had to figure it out by myself and for myself.  It was in one of my sessions that I was gifted with some of the best advice of my life.  My counselor said to me, “I am all for playing the what if game, but you have to play it on both sides.”  She then had me walk through my what if list of what could go wrong with our relationship. She then asked me if all that went wrong what would I do?  I told her I would pick up the pieces and go on.  She then told me to play the other side of the what if game – what if it was the best relationship I could imagine- what would my my life look like?  I said I would be pretty damn happy.

Her point to me was that I could choose to bet on the upside because I already knew I can survive any potential downside.  That’s what we do – we figure out the hard stuff all the time.  But what a waste of energy to figure it out before it has even happened!  Especially when that puts us at risk for missing the upside.  I will pass on the same offer to you…go ahead and play the what if game, but you have to play it on both sides.