When envisioning future events that are a stretch for you, do you focus on what could go well, or do you stress about what could go wrong?
Due to the negativity bias of the brain, it’s quite likely that you spend some time stressing about what could go wrong. In the ancient past, those who were not hypervigilant did not survive to pass on their genes. In contrast, those who were hypervigilant, seeing danger even when there wasn’t any, did survive to pass on their genes. So we inherited the survival trait of looking for what could be dangerous as a priority.
While taking time to attend to details to prevent problems is important, it’s the obsessing about what can go wrong that drains your resourcefulness. It’s a mental habit that can be changed with a simple practice, and the results were life-changing for me.
I learned about “What If Upping” in a video course by Mendhi Audlin, author of What If It All Goes Right?
The first step is to catch yourself in the “What If Downing” habit. Then flip the story to a “What If Upping” theme. In this practice, you’ll notice your resourceful self coming on line.
One of my first chances to practice this exercise happened one day when I had to get up 2 hours early to give a presentation. The day before I was stressing about how being short on sleep might impact me. Then, the day of the event, I didn’t hear the alarm go off, and when I woke up I panicked at first.
I started calculating what part of my morning routine to toss. Then a voice in my head said “What if you were meant to get that extra sleep so you’d be more rested and resourced for your presentation?”
I was startled because this kind of mental flip never happened to me before. And, I could feel my whole body relaxing and shifting to looking forward to the event. What a difference!
What might shift for you if you were to apply the “What If Upping” principle to something in your life that stretches you?