A lot of people tend to think of the worst outcome for a situation they are in. We call those people pessimists and I am one of them.
I try not to be, really, but for some reason I always find my brain hopping to what could go wrong instead of what could go right.
I would imagine that even the most optimistic people frequently find their minds bouncing to the “worst what-if scenarios” even when they tell others not to do the same.
A quote from Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery reminded me that we humans often focus on the possible bad we may face, rather than the possible good.
Eliza shook her head. “Doctors always talk like that to keep people cheered up. I would have much hope if I was her. It’s best to be prepared for the worst.”
“But oughtn’t we to be prepared for the best too?” pleaded Anne. “It’s just as likely to happen as the worst.”
As most of you know (because I’ve posted about it several times) I was recently in the hospital with Covid (and, yes, I will eventually stop talking about it). In the days before I went to the hospital, my thoughts were filled with worst-case scenarios, but I kept trying to push those scenarios away. I truly did not think I would end up in the hospital and I thought if I did, I would be sent home quickly. Even when I imagined something bad happening, my brain would never allow me to go to the worst, worst-case scenario for Covid, which is one, being vented and two, dying.
I had a lot of negative what-ifs in my brain during that time, but I promise I was doing my best to replace them with some positive what-ifs. I was just too tired and sick to really conjure up the positives, I suppose. A pastor’s wife and my mom helped fill me with some of the positives, reciting or texting me verses from the Bible.
One of those verses, Philippians 4:8, helped me immensely.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
After that, I tried to focus on happier thoughts, including focusing on me getting out of the hospital.
On the day the nurse was about to turn my oxygen off, letting me know I no longer needed it, I panicked and started asking what if I couldn’t breathe or my oxygen dropped. Would they put the oxygen back on? The nurse said she would if any of that happened, but she didn’t believe it would. I apologized and told her I always worry about the worst.
She said she understood because she often does the same but has had to remind herself to focus on the positive what-if questions.
“What if everything goes fine? What if I don’t have any issues? What if I do better than expected?”
“We all need to focus a little more on the good that can happen than the bad,” she told me. “Me included.”
Fifteen years ago, I was pregnant with my son, and every time I went to the midwife, I would ask her about all the bad things that could happen.
During one appointment she looked at me and said, “Lisa, why don’t you start thinking about what good will come from this pregnancy instead of what bad can happen during it.”
Oh. Well, there was a new concept.
I worked on it, but here was, and is my problem, I feel like if I don’t learn and know about the bad things that can happen, I won’t be prepared for those bad events when they come.
This might be a valid argument for planning for the worst, but on the other hand, a person can know about the bad, but not focus on the negative so much that the negative possible outcomes overshadow the positive possible outcomes.
I’m sure that thinking the best instead of the worst will be a lifelong battle for me, but it’s something I want to work on. I want to change my negative thinking, dismissing those thoughts instead of claiming them. I want to think the best, not to be naïve enough to think every situation will come out with the best-case scenario but to be brave enough to believe that some situations will.