It’s the “What Ifs” that hold you back.

Previously published by Thought Catalog at

How often do we blame our fear for holding us back? Or we blame missed opportunities or not being lucky enough? We know we’re the ones that are holding ourselves back from doing whatever it is we want but we tend to find something within us to blame if we’re overly responsible or something external if we are uninterested in figuring out what it is we must change.

Here’s my question though…what happens after you’ve worked out all your fears and how they’ve played a role in your decisions? Do you just say, “Okay, well this decision is driven by this fear therefore let me make the exact opposite choice”, or are you the type of person who will overthink and analyse the decision so much to the point of nausea?

If you’re the latter, then have you ever made a note of how many “What if” questions pop into your head at any point in time? When I became aware of this, I couldn’t believe how it affected me to the point of decision paralysis. Instead of making a decision or just actioning whatever it is I wanted, I would get caught up in “Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t do it this way because then this could happen”, or “Yes, but if this is the choice then this will be the outcome” – I must be psychic, to know outcomes before they occur. What said psychic doesn’t determine though is that what actually 100 percent of the time happens is neither of the above. Because no decision is made. The plan ends up being more of a “wait and see” because there is no “What if” in this plan…because by then the brain is so shut down, it has no method of overthinking the “wait and see” scenario. That inevitably becomes the decision…out of exhaustion.

Fear used to be the main reason, the main culprit, but sometimes we just need to accept that it’s the need to over-analyze and overthink that gets us into more trouble. And while the two are closely linked, we use the “What ifs” initially as a tool, a way to help us deal with the fear…until it becomes the fear itself. The “What if” becomes the comfortable crutch, the answer to all the reasons why we didn’t take that leap. The thing that makes sense because we’ve thought out every other way.

“Fear? What fear? No, no, I’ve thought out every outcome and scenario and it’s not fear that’s holding me back. I’m not being held back, I’m just waiting and seeing.” – Yes, let’s keep telling ourselves this and see how far we go in our dreams and aspirations. Nowhere really.

Ultimately, we should be starting with this question and this question only: What if we didn’t what if?

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