CBT | What if?

Our anxious minds have bad habit of thinking the worst case scenario for everything we do.

In any situation, it’s easier to see the terrible consequences, rather than the good. We tend not to focus on good things that happen, and worry more about bad things that have happened, might happen or will happen.

Anxiety for many is a big question of ‘What if’ and with this never ending fear of things going wrong, upsetting someone or messing up, our adrenaline is constantly high and our fight or flight system is ignited unnecessarily.

With all this anxiety of what might go wrong, we miss out on exciting possibilities; new jobs, social events, fun.

One of the methods that I’ve been taught in CBT is the What If Technique.

In all situations, there will always be another side; a good side. Even if we can’t see it. There’s always at least one positive.

So, whilst you’re freaking out about that job interview, or a date that you’ve waited so long to get, think about both sides:


The What If Technique can spiral too, and help you get to the bottom of what you’re worried about.

If you’re anything like me, good things turn quickly into bad things. And so the What If system can work wonders when trying to straighten out thoughts and provide a solid argument for the situation.  You may find that you’ll end up with more positives than negatives.

What if I get the job?
What if the people aren’t nice?
What if my boss is angry at me?
What if I don’t like it?

What if I get the job?
What if this is the job I’ve been waiting for?
What if I make new friends?
What if there’s a career ladder to climb?
What if I’m so much happier here?

It’s just as easy to turn good things into bad, as it is to turn bad things into good. It’s easy to worry, and it’s easy to write down our thoughts and arguments for both points of view – positive and negative – in any situation. So when you’re feeling uncontrollably nervous about a specific thing, think to yourself ‘What if I can do it?’ ‘What if it’s okay?’ 

Believe me. I’m not saying this solves all problems: Whether or not you write all the positives down, doesn’t necessarily mean you can think them and shoo away the bad. It takes time, and practise and we’re all still learning.

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