The "What If" Complex
Have you ever set out to make a change in your life and at some point gotten caught in a cycle of “what ifs?” “What if I never get better? What if I struggle with Eating Disorder thoughts for the rest of my life? What if I never have a healthy relationship with food?” Asking these types of “what if” questions are based in fear and are where fear thrives. We ask ourselves endless “what ifs,” then we experience anxiety, then the anxiety builds until it becomes paralyzing. This is the “what if” complex. It is a cycle of perpetuating thoughts that are rooted in fear.
What if the world end tomorrow? What if Chicken Little is actually a prophet and the sky will fall? What if, what if, what if? There is an infinite amount of “what if” questions we can ask ourselves. But, are any of these thoughts functional? I’m suggesting that they are not. I can’t tell you that the world won’t end tomorrow or that the sky won’t fall. I can’t tell you that you will ever have a healthy relationship with food or if your struggle with the Eating Disorder will ever fully end. The fact of the matter is we can’t tell the future and that makes us uneasy and uncomfortable. To deal with this discomfort regarding the uncertainty of our future, we impose limiting beliefs on ourselves in an effort to protect ourselves. In this case, we “what if” ourselves right out of even trying to do what we know is best for us, because of the uncertainty of whether it’ll “work” or not.
We don’t know what the rest of our lives will hold. While it is important to consider and plan for the future, we cannot allow ourselves to think so globally all of the time. To avoid overload, our minds work to organize our world. If we constantly think in terms of the world as a whole and our life as a whole, we overwhelm ourselves and get stuck in the “what if” complex. When you notice that you are globalizing, meaning thinking too big to the point where it becomes dysfunctional, it’s crucial to recognize it. Once you are able to recognize it, you can then make a conscious effort to bring yourself back to right now. Think about the next day, the next hour or even the next 5 minutes, heck think about the next 30 seconds. There’s a quote that I really believe is appropriate here; “wherever you are, there you are.” My interpretation of this is that you can think about the grand scheme of things all you want, but really you are only able to control the moment you’re in. Let’s use this knowledge to help us make small manageable changes right now to help shape our future instead of allowing the “what if” complex and our globalizing tendency paralyze us from taking steps to become the best you you can be.
I hope you found this post helpful! Please share with anyone you know who could benefit. If you have any questions or suggestions for future posts, please let a comment or message me privately!
I wish you wellness on your journey to finding your State of Balance!
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Binge And Restrict Cycle
Eating Disorder Specialist
Healthy Self Vs. Eating Disorder