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Using What-Ifs to Support Ourselves

We tend to create all sorts of what-ifs when we’re anxious, stressed and overwhelmed. We spin terrible, horrible stories about how certain situations will turn out. What if I fail? What if I disappoint everyone? What if I freeze during the presentation? What if she dumps me? What if they laugh at me and think I’m an idiot? What if I get fired? What if I get rejected? What if he abandons me? What if she sees my real face and flaws and can’t love me anymore?

But what if we used what-ifs in a way that actually served and supported us? Below are some what-if questions to explore and perhaps spark more helpful self-reflection:

  • What if I don’t need to lose weight to appreciate my body or myself?
  • What if I listen to my feelings, instead of running from them? What if I welcome and invite them and ask them to sit awhile? What if I see anger, sadness and anxiety as useful feelings to further explore, instead of flee from?
  • What if I start taking care of myself whether I believe I “deserve” it or not?
  • What if I ask for help?
  • What if I forgive myself for that mistake, for that bad decision?
  • What if I make an appointment with a therapist?
  • What if I stop making my looks, my accomplishments, the number of tasks I’ve checked off my to-do list part of who I am?
  • What if I engage in exercise that actually energizes or soothes me, exercise that I actually like?
  • What if I approach a situation I’m struggling with with self-compassion?
  • What if I reach for my journal instead of a glass of wine?
  • What if I start trusting myself?
  • What if I start eating foods I actually enjoy, instead of foods that are part of some plan, diet or detox?
  • What if I stop trying to please everyone and consider what I genuinely want?
  • What if I start believing I am lovable and worthy without creating any conditions (i.e., I must do ______ in order to be lovable and worthy)?
  • What if I slow down?
  • What if I throw out my scale, so I’m no longer shackled to arbitrary numbers?
  • What if I live my life according to my values?
  • What if I take it easier on myself?
  • What if I engage in one activity, big or small or teeny tiny, every day that inspires me?
  • What if I start seeing my body as a mysterious, magnificent, intricate, exquisitely run machine, as a work of art, as a marvel?
  • What if I start seeing myself as a person who’s doing their best?
  • What if I start seeing Mondays as another day, another opportunity to look for magic?
  • What if I refocus on the possibilities?

By asking what if? we can start to honor ourselves, adopting a kinder, gentler mindset. By asking what if? we can ignite our imaginations, coming up with creative solutions to the most frustrating concerns. By asking what if? we can open our eyes and even our hearts to the incredible possibility of becoming our own best friends.

Using What-Ifs to Support Ourselves

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). Using What-Ifs to Support Ourselves. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 5 Feb 2018
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