If

Fantasy StatuesAlternative possible outcomes by changing the circumstances in order to get different results

If a frog had wings……… Author unknown

The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.  Samuel Johnson

Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today. James Dean

   Some of us are actually addicted to the use of the word “if”. We dwell on alternatives to present reality. Too many of us spend an unhealthy amount of time replaying the past; “if”, “only if” and “ if this”. It can be a significant handicap to good mental health by dwelling in the past, replaying old events and wishing for things to be different; “If I had only done this instead of that”.

   The past is valuable for learning and gaining wisdom, but making mistakes is part of life. It is important to learn from our experiences and we travel through life. “Living in the past” is unhealthy. It is easy to get stuck on “replay”. We have to chose to push “play” and go forward with our future. 

    If our goal is to become the best that we can become, we should focus on the present and on the adventures and opportunities that are coming our way. Using “if” as a decision tool has great potential benefit. When we are evaluating alternatives as to what decision to make, “if” becomes very useful. Using “if” offers us the opportunity of a mental flow chart. It works like this: if I do “this”, then “this” or “that” can happen. By continuing through the thought process, if “this” happens then the following are the potential ramifications. However, if “that” happens, then the potential ramifications become a different set of outcomes. Using “if” in this manner can be very decisive and strategic. “If” becomes a kind of crystal ball that helps us to see various potential outcomes. In this sense “if” allows us to somewhat predict the future.

    There can be a type of “slippery slope”. It becomes a problem when we slip from using “if” as a planning and decision making tool to using “if” to avoid reality. We can go off on a tangent and get trapped in an “if” world. We get stuck on replaying possibilities and do nothing; “if I win the lottery”, “if I get this new job” and so forth.

   We have to live in the present, make the best possible choices and decisions, learn from the outcomes of our decisions and always continue to go forward in our lives. It is good to use our imagination to ignite our creative processes, it is not good to continuously try to escape from or avoid our reality.

Challenge:  Can you think of someone who over does using “if”? Listen to what they are saying. Listen to your use of it. Alert yourself when “if” becomes an escape from reality.  Avoid living in the past and beating yourself up for bad choices or mistakes. Use “if” as a planning tool to make better decisions. Do not use it to relive the past, but to do better in the future. “If” you start making better decisions, you will have more success in your life.

Wisdom: “If”, causes us to consider other possible outcomes. If we use other possibilities to make better decisions, this is good. If we use “if” to live in the past, it is harmful and undesirable.  Randall Burkhalter 

Spiritual: (NIV):

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:6

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of daylight shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  Proverbs 4:18

When our life is over, and if we are given the opportunity to replay it from the start until the finish; we will have regrets; “if we had done such and such differently”.  We will always have remorse because we could have done so much better. If life is a failure, “if” has dire consequences for us. If our life is a success, “if” will have totally different consequences. “If” becomes irrelevant when we make the decision to turn our life over to God.

Prayer:  Help me to overcome insecurity, doubts, fears and worry by putting my trust and hope in you.                         

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