The “What If” Game: To worry or not to worry?

Worries. We all have them. Some of us worry a lot whereas others worry a little. Some worries are about important and big issues and some may be about small details. Worries can be about realistic and probable events or about unlikely occurrences. Regardless of the type of worries, they can be on our minds at all hours of the day and night affecting our daily functioning and our ability to sleep.


When we are worried, the mind seems to take on a life of its own and we can get wound up with seemingly incessant and bothersome thoughts and questions (such as…What if this happens? What if that happens? What if I can’t do it? What if I fail? What if I had done this instead of that? What if I said this? etc). The worrying questions can not only be about ourselves but also about our loved ones, including our children (e.g., what if my child gets hurt? What if my child fails his test? What if my child is being teased at school?). The questions may seem to repeat and to go on forever…and ever. Ugh!!!!

I call it the dreaded “what if” game!

So WHAT CAN WE DO about it? One strategy is to take a step back and to label or name what is going on in your mind for what it is – a type of game. For example, we can say to ourselves, “There goes my mind again. It’s playing the ‘what if’ game.” What that does is allow us to step out of the game for a minute and get a bit of distance from the constant nagging and questions in our head. It is like pressing the ‘pause’ button on the DVD player or PVR of our minds. This is important in order to gain perspective and to perhaps even inject a little humour (Isn’t it amazing what our minds can do?).

The next time your mind starts to play the “what if” game, why not try this strategy and see how it works for you. With practice, you may start to feel like you are the one taking control of the dice. Consider this approach as a beginning with more to come on this topic….

Of course, we also know that just like their parents, kids have worries too. I will be writing about kid’s anxiety and ways to cope in future posts.

Please feel free to write your comments or questions below.

Best wishes,
Dr. Stephanie

P.S. Below are some books on the topic.

2 thoughts on “The “What If” Game: To worry or not to worry?”

  1. What an amazing concept, especially for those over-worriers like me! I wish you the best of luck with this website, with the new additions for this year and future projects. I really enjoyed reading this!


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