The Positive “What If?”

When you really think about it, everything is neutral.  It is our perspective that literally makes all the difference in the world, since we see the world that we program ourselves to see.

The yogis have said that it is the cautionary mind, the “what if?” mind that gets accessed first in the thinking process. This makes complete sense for survival.

Most people, myself included, know how to use the “what if?” question for cautionary purposes;  “What if I have an accident?  What if they don’t like me?  What if I don’t like them? What if this is not the right person for the job?  For the marriage?”  Asking ourselves what could go wrong has its place.  It is prudent, necessary.

diagram1-copyWhat happens when we tip the scales and create a habit of automatically following the cautionary “what if?” brain?  We create extra stress in the body, stress that was meant to activate the nervous system so we could run away from danger or fight it.  When our nervous systems are taxed over and over again by habitual thoughts of what could go wrong, we become ill, weak, nervous, hyperactive, despondent….the list goes on.

What can be done?  How can we first even the score.  And then, little by little tip the scale on the side of the positive mind, the one that sees opportunity, and dare I say…even sees the opportunity in challenges?

The mind is habitual unless reigned in.  Yet, the good news is that over time it will respond to the creation of new habits.  So it takes an effort at first to create the new habit.  At first, you will have to introduce your habitual mind to your conscious creative mind.  Be friendly, firm, and have patience.  You have to be in it for the long haul.

Start by asking yourself a few key questions, like….

  • Does there have to be a problem here?
  • What could go right?
  • What if it went well?  What would that look like?go right

Flesh it out.  The habitual mind will fight to be heard.  Your conscious, creative mind can acknowledge it.  It wants to keep you safe.  That is its job.

One of my dogs is like this.  She is wired to look for what could go wrong, or what needs fixing, or what she may need to defend.  When I take her to the dog park, her idea of having fun is to supervise the other dogs.  I talk to her much the same way I am suggesting you talk to your mind.  I say, “Thank you for your help.  It is not needed here.  You can relax now, and I’ll let you know when I need your help.”  She gets it, at least for a while.  Patience pays.

Here’s a rampage of positive “What If?” statements.  You are welcome to borrow them, or create your own as life unfolds:

  • What if I can trust this?
  • What if I can find a way to relax now?
  • What if it is okay if the other person feels this way?
  • What if it is okay if I feel this way?
  • What if it is okay that something I thought I wanted didn’t happen?
  • What if there is a bigger gift here?
  • What if it is okay just as it is right now?
  • What if I am okay just as I am right now?possible

Add to this list as your life shows you the opportunity in every single Now moment.

If this work appeals to you, you will love a course I teach called Happily Ever Now.

Play with it, let me know how it goes.

About the Author:

Shakta is an AMS certified Montessori teacher, and the author of five well-known Yoga books, CDs and DVDs. Her latest book, The Yoga Way to Radiance: How to Follow Your Inner Guidance and Nurture Children to do the Same, is scheduled for release in summer of 2016, (Llewellyn Worldwide)   Visit Shakta's Writing and Poetry Site


  1. Theresa Tovey January 22, 2014 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Hi Shakta, Was this post ever timely. I spent most of last night awake running through “what ifs”. After almost four months of Physical Therapy and Acupuncture (and lots of healing meditation), I received MRI / X-Ray results yesterday which indicated two significant bulging neck discs and a bone spur on a nerve which has been causing me much physical pain. Trying a new treatment option for 6 weeks to try to prevent surgery but the “what ifs” keep coming. Funny, most of my “what ifs” revolve around yoga i.e. What if I can’t finish my 200 Hr teacher training I just started and what if I can’t take your Happily Ever Now workshop this summer. I will be printing out this blog to read often and keep listening to Yogi Bhajan’s voice on one of your CD’s tell me that “the One who created me will take care of me”.
    Thank You Shakta,
    Love and Light,

  2. radiantchildyoga January 22, 2014 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Theresa, We are on the same wavelength, and I am glad this came at a timely moment for you. Rest assured, I can speak to the Happily Ever Now course next summer–you will be welcome and comfortable whether or not you can do much of the yoga sections. We will make sure of it.
    Blessings, and thanks for remembering the Patience Pays track on Deeply Relax CD—I also heard Yogi Bhajan’s voice when I said “Patience Pays” in the blog. On the same wavelength…..!

  3. Sat Nam Kaur January 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Turn the negative mind on itself. Play it’s own game. Come out the positive side.
    Lift it all up to Neutrality and thrive in the heart
    Jump Laugh and be Happy.
    Love It!!

Leave A Comment