Playing the “What If” Game
Surely I’m not the only one who occasionally awakes at night to play a round of the What If Game. This infuriating game is infinitely versatile and can fit any middle of the night musings (or obsessions). Take your pick:
- What if she never outgrows this problem and is still acting this way when she’s 15, or 20, or 30, or…
- What if his learning disabilities keep him from passing the end of grade test?
- What if this new behavior is a sign of attachment issues?
- What if I’m ruining my family by adding just one more child?
- What if an expectant woman never picks us for adoption?
- What if our money runs out before infertility treatment is successful?
After playing a particularly strenuous round of the What If Game recently, I am here to tell you that the What Ifs are not our friend. You simply can’t win. You go round and round and end up no where. I know this. I know this during the day. I know this when I grab the What If ring in the middle of night and start the game. But even though I know the futility, I still periodically can’t seem to help but play the game.
One technique that is sometimes effective for me is to get out of bed and write about whatever I’m obsessing about. In the past when I tried to keep a journal, I would pour out my angst there. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at keeping a journal and it was used only for these middle of the night worry sessions. I worried that if anyone ever read the journal they would think me an obsessive worry wart—or neurotic. I suspect the purpose of keeping a journal is to reflect the whole of your life, not just the obsessive moments of your life. I hope no one ever reads my journals, but just in case, I’m vain enough to want a more even representation. Now I write out my worries on paper and throw them away when I’m finished. There is something cathartic about tearing my worries into many little pieces and throwing them away.
I always end my writings with a prayer for peace and clarity. I also repeat a wise Russian saying: The morning is always wiser. And it always is.
Image credit: LadyBlackwood