If there’s one question that paralyses more than any other, it’s: What if ………. ? What if I hadn’t gone back to turn off the heater? What if I’d slept in 5 more minutes? What if I had arrived half an hour later? What if you hadn’t rung me when you did? What if that traffic light had been green? What if… What if…. What if….?
I remember when my son was 6 years old and he had thrown a ball into the kitchen and had missed my favourite vase by a whisker. I squealed and said: You nearly smashed my special vase. He shot back: But I didn’t hit it. If we are going to talk about everything I nearly did, it will take all day. Not only was I amused by his innocent way of thinking, but I committed it to memory. What a fabulous way to look at life – to not dwell on what very nearly happened, but to celebrate what did.
Of course, there are tragic circumstances that could have been prevented if just one part of the sequence of events was different. But such thinking is torturous. If an accident has occurred, ruminating about how easily it could have been avoided will make it harder to accept. We will never be able to answer the question: what if?, so there’s absolutely no point in asking it. Easier said than done, but necessary if you don’t want to remain stuck.