Food For Your Soul: What If You Play the What-If Game?
Update: Yikes almighty. You guys are amazing, but I think we bit off more than we expected to chew (but we can chew it – yes we can!). Two-hundred of you ordered the cleansing grains special, but what I didn’t count on was another 100 Etsy orders at the Crunchy Betty Natural Market. Bear with us; everything SHOULD be going out no later than Saturday.
I woke up at 6:00 this morning (Tuesday) to write this – something I’ve been wanting to share for weeks – and spent over 6 hours on it, never quite content with the way it turned out (PMS is NOT helping). So I shelved it for a bit. And after spending the afternoon stewing about it while knee-deep (not literally, ew) in cleansing grains, I thought … What if I just post it the way it is? What if? That’s the game. What if?
What If You Play the What If Game?
I’ve been doing this little thing lately that I’m calling the “What If” game.
We all do this all the time, anyway, with stuff – but I’ve discovered that when I play it on my brain, it makes me feel less like stabbing my problems with a fork and more like making out passionately with life.
Life loves it, by the way. I’m not, like, forcing myself on it. It’s consensual.
When we experiment with beauty treatments and foods and whatnot at home, we’re playing the What If game, only it’s easier than playing it on your brain. You go, “What if I don’t use shampoo for the next month?” And then you learn and it’s not a big deal and you either end up with gorgeous bouncy hair or string cheese growing out of your scalp.
Either way, you learn and then you go on with life and everything’s fine.
So keep that in mind. It’s going to get kind of weird for a minute, because I’m going to let you into my brain so you can see how the What If Brain Game works.
Everything to me is a Very Big Deal. Things I have to do, things that happen in my life, and things like whether or not the outdoor temperature is optimal for wearing short sleeves or should I wear a light sweater or maybe I should just stay at home because there’s a 10% chance of rain. Big deals.
And because everything is a Very Big Deal, changing the way I look at it all seems like a huge commitment that I’m likely to fail at. Reading a library full of self-help, motivational, and spiritual books hasn’t helped me all that much, because of this Very Big Deal outlook on life.
Every time I read a book about Success!, or decide to start exercising more, or want to change anything, it feels like a commitment. People are all, “Look. You just have to have willpower.” And what I hear is, “Look. You just have to be miserable and force yourself to do something you hate and you’re probably going to give it up after a while, anyway.”
It is very easy to make yourself do something you hate, continuously and forever. Right? RIGHT?
Finally, after 37 freaking years on this planet, I have decided that it’s okay to not be motivated by that kind of thinking, and I will create my own FUN motivated thinking. And, like any game, the more you play it, the better you get at it.
How to Play the What If Brain Game
The Objective: To learn whether, through no-biggie experiments, you can change the way you look at life, achieve a goal, or kick a bad habit – without feeling like any of it is a Very Big Deal.
There are only a few rules:
- What Ifs are all experiments, and nothing about the outcome is a Very Big Deal. It’s just fun to play.
- It doesn’t matter what other people think about the experiments you run by saying What If.
- If you don’t like the outcomes after a few trials, you can adjust the experiments or just move on.
- As long as you’re unattached to any specific outcome, and as long as you play it truthfully and without manipulation in mind, it is a success, even if it fails, because you’ve learned something new about how you navigate your life.
Here’s what you do:
Notice Something In Your Life That Causes You Problems
For me, it most definitely was worrying and over thinking, which led to being controlling when people didn’t do what I thought they needed to do in order for me to be happy.
For you, it could be that you get very angry when people disagree with you, or the fact that you don’t eat as nutritionally as you’d like, or that you can’t motivate yourself to write that novel because it’s such a Big Deal and who wants to read about a blind English peasant girl who finds the meaning of life in pretzel making, anyway?
Whatever it is, notice it and be honest that it’s YOU that’s actually creating the problem by way of your inaction or your reaction.
Start Thinking About Potential What Ifs
Once you’ve played the game a few times, this part comes completely naturally, immediately upon noticing that you’re causing your own mental anguish.
Just start thinking about the alternative ways you can react to something, or the alternatives to your inaction.
“What if I just sat down and wrote a page of my novel?” Or “What if I let go of my need to be right, and let that other person believe what they want to believe?” Or even, “What if I just go out and walk for 15 minutes and then decide whether or not I want to play the What If game about exercising again tomorrow?”
It ain’t no big thang.
For me, my initial What If was this: “What if I just let go, stopped worrying about this situation, and smiled instead? What if I just do one thing to move forward, make one little decision, and then let go and see what happens until I’m ready to play the next What If?”
Put Your What If Into Action
Once you isolate the What If you want to act on, you actually do it. But it’s no big deal, because it’s just an experiment. Just to see what might come of changing the way you behave, perceive, or do for a little while. It’s a mystery, what might come of it!
Real-life example: When Skip lost his job, I started down my road of worry. Two days into it, I said, “Wait. What if I just let go and believe that everything’s going to work out all right?”
So I put that What If into action. Within days, the situations that led to the Crunchy Betty Natural Market had played themselves out, and let me tell you people, Skip has embraced his role and is enthusiastic about being a part of it, and things are going exceptionally well in ways I couldn’t have experienced if I’d been Miss Worry-Until-Everyone-Around-You-Hates-Your-Face. And even though we’re SO busy right now, I keep playing “What If” every time I start to feel stressed out or worried. And – NO WAY – it’s actually a blast!
Notice the Outcome Without Being Discouraged
Again, this harkens back to the rules of the game. You cannot be attached to a potential outcome. You just have to notice what happens.
Did you spend the rest of your day writing? Did you feel more at peace because you moved on with your day positively, even though that chick with a stupid opinion ticked you off? Did you feel great after going for a walk?
Those were great outcomes! Experiment with the same What If again until it just becomes your new way of being. (New Way Of Being seems more official. Let’s go with that.)
However, you might find that your What If made someone else react to you in a weird way. Perhaps your What If was something like, “What if instead of continuing this fight with my husband, I just look at him, tell him I love him, and that we can discuss it again in a few days if we still think we need to.”
And his reaction was, “WOMAN! I AM NOT DONE. YOU ARE WRONG AND I AM RIGHT.” And then he stomped off and went to the garage and drank beer and fixed his car with a wrench or a nut or whatever you fix cars with.
Well, that might not have been a great outcome. The first time. But you might want to try the same What If again, because you know in your heart that, when you’re both comfortable with that What If, it will lead to better communication.
Don’t Give Up On Your What-If Until You’ve Experimented a Few Times
You cannot develop muscle without repetition, unless you’re the Incredible Hulk. So be prepared to run the same What If a few times to fully decide whether or not it’s a new way of doing things that you’ll make a part of your life forever.
When you get used to asking What If, you’ll start noticing that your reactions to situations are easier, more peaceful, and open to SO many more possibilities. What if you just … try it for a little while?
In the Game of What If, EVERYONE Wins
Do you want to pick one thing to start playing the What If Brain Game about? What do you think your first What If should be?
We can chat about it here, but remember, there are winners. And the winners are ONLY going to be the people who play, but it just so happens that if you play, you win. That’s how it works.