Friday Counseling Issues: What If?

It’s wonderful to have in inquiring mind.  We need analytical, detail-oriented people in our world to keep everything from falling apart, including our own bodies 🙂  I just went to have blood drawn this morning in preparation for a doctor’s appointment on Monday. My tech is one I’m becoming friends with.  She knows which arm is most likely to pop a good vein.  She’s quick and careful, checking and double checking, as she should.   I didn’t even feel the needle go in. That’s how good she is.

Our doctors, nurses, techs, mechanics, engineers, pilots–this could become a very long list–absolutely need to be analytical and cautious,  triple checking every procedure. I’m very thankful for these people in my own life, because they help keep me healthy, safe, and comforable.

Don’t they ever goof up?  Sure.  We’ve all heard the horror stories. You have to admit, though, that it’s rare.

But listen:  Any strength taken too far becomes a weakness. This particular strength can drive a person to anxiety, despair, depression and darkness.

I call it the “What If Syndrome” (WIS).

One of the things I hear often from these folks is “But what if. . . .” And then they go on to give me a list of probable and improbable events that could happen if they follow the profoundly wise advice I have just given them.

For example (I’m feeling a bit wry this morning, so please pardon me ahead of time):

“What should I do if my mother-in-law asks me why I by Xbrand of toilet paper instead of a (cheaper)(more expensive) brand?”

“Kindly tell her that this is the brand your husband, her son, prefers, and that maybe she should take it up with him.”

“But (they ALWAYS  but me at this point) what if she keeps asking me?  What if she says she can’t use XBrand because she’s allergic? What if she talks to my husband and he says he’ll tell me to get her brand?  What if she cries and accuses me of not loving her?  What if . . . . . .?”

And this whole time, I’m sitting there thinking, “What if I turn off your worry button?”

But I say, “Look, most of this stuff will never happen, and you’ll have wasted time and energy worrying uselessly. If she asks you again, look directly at her and say, “Asked and answered.”  Then walk away and go scrub the toilet or something. Refuse to engage with her.  It’s a silly conversation to begin with, and does not merit all this angst.”

“But what if. . . ”

And that’s when I say, “”Okay, just stop it now. Stop it! Listen to me. You are creating the situation here, she is not. You cannot control her.  You can only control how you react to her.  Simply refuse to engage. Ask her to chop some onions or something, but do NOT continue in a conversation you cannot win and that isn’t important.”

“What if she gossips against me?”   She will.  You can’t stop her. Besides, it isn’t important what other people think of you.

“What if she lies to my friends about me?”  What did I just say? Your friends won’t believe her. The rest don’t matter.

“What if she convinces my husband. . .”  And right there I cut her off at the pass, and I say,”Where on earth does all this stuff come from?  Do you lie awake at night making up all the worst possible scenarios?   You need to elminate those two words from your thinking and your vocabulary.

“What two words?”

Sigh.  Shake my head in despair.

“The words what if!  They do you no good; they do you a lot of harm. The Bible says we are not to give any thought (worry) to tomorrow, because today’s evil is enough to keep us busy.  Look, you are an analytical, detail-oriented person, and that’s a wonderful thing.  But you’re taking it too far, and you’re going to end up in a straight jacket over what mightcouldmaybe happen. I’m going to give you a website.  I want you to watch the video every single day for a week, and then come back and we’ll talk some more, okay.  I’m sorry, but our time is up.

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