WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE THE BEST CASE SCENARIO

It's time to stop looking at the worst case scenarion and start looking for the best outcome

BEING A WORRIER (NOT A WARRIOR)

I used to be a worst case scenario kind of gal. If something could be catastrophized I would find a way to do it. Worry was my middle name.  I wish I could say that I'd completely turned my life around in an Oprah worthy moment of clarity, but that would be an out and out lie.

What I can say is that I'm a work in progress - and progress is being made. I don't over-think things like I used to, I still like to have a Plan A and a back-up Plan B - but I don't feel the need to add in the rest of the alphabet any more. I am able to let most things go through to the keeper and trust that all will be well and the issue will pass in its own time.

WORST CASE SCENARIO

I realized I must be getting better at not worrying about worst case scenarios when I listened to a workmate catastrophizing her life the other day. She mentioned in passing that she was going to have scan done soon because - wait for it - she has decided that she has metastasizing bone cancer! She has been perfectly healthy for all the time I've known her, so I asked why she thought she had this life threatening condition. 

It turns out she has been having some pain in her legs and sometimes it hurts to stand when she gets out of bed. Apparently her uncle had been diagnosed with this condition, in his late 70's, many years ago and died soon after - so (worst case scenario) she must have it too. I politely asked if it might be something more benign - like arthritis. It turns out that her mother has arthritis - but she's choosing to pick the most dire outcome in her self diagnosis - not the most logical one.

WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES?

I read a thought provoking quote from Marc Middleton (CEO of Growing Bolder) that said - 

The moment that we accept an idea as fact, the words and images that surround and support that idea become real, and have the same power over us as truth.

I wondered to myself why we choose to look at the worst case scenario for an event when it can have such a negative influence on our lives? Why decide we have metastasizing bone cancer when we could start with checking out whether we are a bit stiff from arthritis? Why escalate something before we've given it time to actually materialize?

Why would we choose to live in fear? I watched a fantastic video clip that looked at worst case scenario-ing from a humorous perspective. It made me smile to see each family member extrapolate out a disaster from a simple comment - but it's also a timely warning to not let things get out of hand in our imaginations. The worst rarely happens and in the meantime we've spent hours, days (nights), or even weeks worrying about something that is never going to happen.

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy - Martha Washington quote

CHOOSING OUR ATTITUDE

I think it's time we decided to choose the best case scenario - to imagine the best outcome from a potential situation. To choose to be cheerful rather than choosing to be fearful and miserable. In my colleague's situation for instance, why not tick off the easy possibilities first - a) am I getting enough exercise? b) are my joints getting stiff because I'm not as young as I used to be? c) could it be arthritis? Before launching into the most awful possibility she could come up with and fretting about it over the weeks ahead?

Life is full of choices - every time we come up against a new challenge we choose how we're going to approach it. Are we going to worry ourselves to death over it? Are we going to let it control our thoughts for lengthy periods of time? Are we going to let it upset us and steal our joy? Or are we going to put it into the hands of God and let tomorrow take care of itself? We need to be proactive and not blasé about life, and we can do this with a positive attitude and a can-do approach, rather than throwing our hands in the air and giving up before we've even reached the first hurdle.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you guilty of indulging in the worst case scenario routine? Or are you learning to look at life from an optimistic viewpoint - looking for the cloud's silver lining rather than expecting that cloud to be the portent of a thunder storm?

It's time to stop looking at the worst case scenarion and start looking for the best outcome

#midlife blog ~ crestingthehill.com.au
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46 comments

  1. Gosh, I used to always do this. Even as a little kid. I think it's only as I've gotten older that I realize there is no benefit from this. Not that I've completely stopped, but I'm definitely better11
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. Hi Jodie - I think it's the dental personality in both of us - too careful for our own good - and always looking to be prepared for any possible disaster. Isn't it lovely to stop doing that all the time and to just go with the flow more often!

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  2. Here's to letting go of the rest of the alphabet! My natural instinct is to expect the worst. But usually just from little things: my phone notifies me that someone is contacting me, and I assume they want something. I don't see the pay in my bank account and assume it's a deliberate scam.

    BUT I'm getting better at not responding in the first moment when I'm assuming the worst. I wait a minute or 12 until my head is clear, and respond calmly and ask questions first. That person didn't want anything from me, just checking in to say hi. The pay was an oversight because I'm not there in person.

    For the hard stuff that leaves doubt hanging in my head, I can push away the negative, and even if I don't go all dreamy-eyed pie-in-the-sky, I can take a realistic look at the actual moment at hand and let the situation play out.

    Loved that video, too.

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    1. Red I've been the same - always having several contingency plans in place, but the more I tell myself to let go and to expect better things rather than the absolute worst, then life get so much easier - and the worst rarely happens. Glad you enjoyed the video - it's a favourite of mine :)

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  3. I had this conversation with a friend over the weekend. She asked why I always seem positive - even when things were falling apart. I told her it's because I truly believe there'll be an upside in the long run. She said she prefers to run through all the worst possible scenarios so she won't be surprised. Sure I come unstuck sometimes but I think I prefer my way.

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    1. I used to be the same as your friend Jo - trying to be prepared for things going wrong - but really all I achieved was a headache and a lot of time wasted worrying about something that never came close to happening. I'm learning to go with your approach now and it makes for a much happier Me.

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  4. I'm like you Leanne. I can over dramatise, and over think, and be on the brink of death or despair - but when I actually do it, it's not so bad after all and I wonder why I spent so much energy catatastrophising it! My hubby on the other hand is Mr Positive - and boy, I love him for that! Talk about Yin and Yang!

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    1. I have been the world's worst over-thinker Jo - the scenarios that have churned through my brain over the years are beyond belief. My mum always said "worry about it when it happens" and I'd be incredulous. Now I'm seeing it from her point of view and it really is a much more satisfying way to live. I love that your hubby is a silver lining guy - nice to have the balance.

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  5. Leanne
    I really needed your words today! Thank you for helping me challenge my tendency to think of the worst case scenario automatically.

    SSG xxx

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    1. I'm glad it helped SSG - I'm slowly learning to see the silver lining and maybe you'll get there a decade or so before I did!

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  6. I can be a little over-dramatic at times. I think it's sometimes an attention seeking thing, however you soon learn that most people don't really care that much about your dramas. To a certain extent our makeup is partly genetical and partly environmental. We just need to learn to cope with stress or worry in a better fashion and a lot things like exercise, fresh air, meditation and seeking solitude can help with this. #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I think mine comes from being the responsible oldest child Kathy - where I had to look after everyone and make sure everything goes exactly to plan - it's a control issue for me too. Once I let go of some of that need to have everything figured out before it happens, I find I actually quite enjoy going with the flow.

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  7. This is SUCH good advice!
    My Mom used to wake up in the night and start worrying about things. Mostly things that would never happen. By the time she got up in the morning, she had been weeping for hours. Us kids would sit down to breakfast with a red-eyed, exhausted mother and panic. What did she know that she wasn't telling us?! Now, years (and years) later, I find I have the same tendancey. Why does everything look dark in the middle of the night? Fortunately, I have my mother's example of what not to do and I simply tell myself: "I'll think about that in the morning". And it works! In the morning, nothing ever seems as dire.

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    1. Your poor Mum - how awful would it be to be losing sleep over stuff and then having to get up and perform all your normal tasks with that grey cloud hanging over your head. I totally agree that things always seem better in the light of day and I'm also trying really hard not to dwell on things - push them to the back of my mind and they can simmer away while I get on with all the good parts of life.

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  8. First, that video was hysterical. String art as a gateway art to knitting...lol. Second, I can't agree more with you. Two years before my sister died, she thought her lung cancer was returning. She could actually feel a lump in her lung, so she started preparing to die, but refused to go to the Doctor because she didn't want to go through the painful testing. A month later, she ended up in the hospital where it was discovered that she had a fungus growing in her lung. Yes! I said a fungus. She was on medication for a year to get rid of it, but I think her mind had been made up for so long that it shortened her life. Once she thought she had lung cancer again, she ceased being the strong woman that I grew up with and changed into a defeated person who was only waiting for the hammer to come down. So sad to watch.

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    1. That is beyond sad Jennifer - I think that's why the quote about your thoughts becoming reality really hit me - we think ourselves into giving up. We need to choose the positive - it won't change the outcome (usually) but by being proactive we give ourselves a head start on dealing with the situation if and when it arises. And yes, that video makes me smile every time I watch it - the father worrying about the daughter is a classic too.

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  9. Hi Leanne, I had a chuckle about the alphabet because I'm like that. My daughter is actually teaching me to worry less, would you believe and yes although it is a WIP I am improving. Dr Google can make us believe many things can't it and I sometimes wonder what people, like your work colleague would do if something really was wrong. I do worry but I also try to look at life as positively as I can and that really helps. Have a great weekend, my friend and here's to enjoying life.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

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    1. I think worrying and projecting can actually be bad for your health Sue - and (like Jennifer said in her comment) it can make us put off getting checked because we're so scared the news will be bad. Better to go into things with the hope that it will all be okay and then deal with it like Denyse does if it's not - with a positive attitude and looking for that silver lining.

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  10. guilty ! that was me - as a child and young adult I imagined the worst so that I could be pleasantly surprised when it didnt happen and I had an odd faith that if I thought the worst I was protecting myself. what a pickle!!! taken years to unravel this knot -worrywort was a natural state for me and I couldn't believe it when I met people that didn't fret. were they lying? ha, anyway like you leanne I am still learning and doing ok - n mostly I have a good attitude and take what comes with a grace and humility. funny though how the middle of the night can still bring out the worry worts...

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    1. I was the same Sandra - it was the thought that if I had a plan for the worst that could happen then I'd be okay if it did. The trouble was that I lived in fear all the time - waiting for the axe to fall. By the time one disaster hadn't happened, I seemed to have found another one to start on. Now I am taking my mother's advice more - she's a non-worrier - and worrying about it if and when it actually happens! It saves a lot of time :)

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  11. I don't do the worst case scenario but I do the what if and it is always the bad what if. I think it is like someone else said I am preparing myself in case the bad does happen.

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    1. The what if's are pretty much worst case scenario-ing Victoria - it's still about dwelling on the bad that might happen instead of letting things take their course and choosing to push those thoughts out of our head. I'm focusing on consciously choosing not to dwell on stuff - it's hard but I'm getting better at it.

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  12. I have a tendency towards catastrophizing Leanne, and have been known to lose sleep over different worries and then wonder in the morning why it all seemed so much worse in the middle of the night. But by God's grace I'm learning to be more like my laid-back husband - he taught me to make friends with the worst possible outcome, and then trust that God is sovereign. But I also need to be obedient, faithful, and prayerful when worrying situations come my way. For me it's inevitably about letting go of control......... xx

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    1. It's definitely a control thing Sue - we think we can plan it all out and it will fix the outcome. Now I'm much better at putting it into God's hands and praying and moving forward. Lying there thinking "what if" or "I bet it'll be bad" just does my head in and stresses me out - now I go with the flowers in the field and don't worry anywhere near as much - it's very pleasant and I should have started a lot sooner!

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  13. I try not to overthink things and worry unnecessarily Leanne but it’s easier said than done! I agree with your comment about being the eldest child that can bring out this trait. I’ve become better and much less stressed since retiring - life is good!! Great to read your thoughts as always 😊

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    1. We oldest children definitely seem to have the propensity to take the world on our shoulders Deb - and nobody thanks us for it! Now I work on letting things take their course and it rarely ever turns out to be all that bad - and even the bad stuff is pretty manageable if I haven't let it get me down in advance!

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  14. Timely post. I'm going through something at the moment (a project I'm involved in) where I'm worried about so much but much of it is largely out of my control. Or is it? Anyway, I had a conversation with someone about it this morning and we both decided to "hope for the best but prepare for the worst". We agreed to just do that stuff we had control over in preparation for any outcome and hope that our gut instincts are wrong and that our worries are for nothing. Sounds confusing ... but needless to say it's a big project with flow on effects and not everyone on the team is necessarily doing the best thing by the project. Anyway, timely post. We'll go for the best case scenario as much as possible (but have our back up plan ready) #teamlovinlife

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    1. It's the way I think about things too Leanne (why do other people not pull their weight btw???) anyway.... I'm trying to hope for the best, but have a contigency plan just in case - you have to not be foolhardy, but also not let the worry take over your whole life - balance is the key isn't it?

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  15. Hi Leanne,

    I know people who are natural worriers and like to dwell on the worst case scenario and I find it very draining to be around them.

    I employ the worst case scenario in quite a different way - one that I find to be helpful. When trying to come to a decision about something, I imagine the worst possible outcome - "the worst case scenario" - then I decide if it is something I could survive. If the answer is yes, I proceed. (Invariably, my imagined worst case scenario has a remote chance of actually happening.)

    I then know I can live with the decision I am making no matter what comes of it. So using the worst case scenario in this way gives me peace of mind.

    Thanks for posting this!

    Deb

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    1. I like your take on it Deb - the idea of what doesn't kill you makes you stronger (or could actually turn out to be great fun!) and knowing that you have a good idea of what you're getting yourself in for - then going with the flow. I think it's about being brave too isn't it?

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  16. Oh, yes - I'm definitely a well-practiced worrier. I figure I save time by imagining the worst and going through the agony before I find out the diagnosis. Well, I used to do that. Funny thing is, in 2015, when I was told I had a tumor on my pancreas, I actually didn't let myself think the worst. I don't know what stopped me. Turns out it was a very, very rare but benign tumor. Though I had to relinquish a few of my organs, I'm really glad I didn't let myself go to the worst case. You've given us excellent advice, Leanne. I imagine that most of the time, the problem is much less worse than we make it out to be.

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    1. I think that 9 out of 10 times we end up with the best outcome - the other 10% we deal with regardless - and worrying it to death doesn't really help that much. Things are often better than we expect and we miss out on the joy when we choose to stress and overthink.

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  17. Great post and I tend to be a worrier. And a catastrophiser. But you're right, it's about making a conscious decision to change our attitude or also remind ourselves that there's stuff we can't control. I think I'm getting better, though perhaps I just care less as I get older!!!

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    1. I'm definitely a control freak Deb - that's why there's always a Plan B - its stopping myself from churning it over and over and doing the 'what if" and the "maybe I should" thing that really helps me. I'm getting better at just letting things be - and I'm feeling better for it!

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  18. "I still like to have a Plan A and a back-up Plan B - but I don't feel the need to add in the rest of the alphabet any more." I view myself as a glass half-full kind of gal. I don't necessarily think worst-case scenario, but my thoughts do skew toward the negative. I believe in the power of positive thinking, however, and continue to try and adapt my mind to seeing the glass as half-full.

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    1. I'm working on the glass being half full all the time - I think I'm being a realist, but a lot of the time it can swing into pessimism and that's not the way I want to live my life. Now I'm steering in the other direction and it's much better for my mental health and happiness.

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  19. Wonderful post Leanne and good reasons to shift our attitude from fear to faith. I look for things to be grateful for rather than those to be unhappy about. I'll reshare on FB so others might see. Have a great weekend.

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    1. There's a lot to be said for choosing your attitude - the more I take responsibility for my choices and what my mind dwells on, the better my approach to live gets and the more positive I am.

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  20. Food for thought Leanne. In terms of my work I plan for worst case scenario and hope for the best (comes with being a project manager). In my personal life, I'm more of an optimist. I think a little bit of worrying is healthy but jumping to worst case scenario all the time is destructive.

    stopping via Lovin'Life

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    1. I think you have the balance pretty perfect Suzy - I think you have to be prepared for a negative outcome, but going over and over (and over) it in your head in advance just means you suffer needlessly - especially when it comes to stuff in our personal life - work can be a different matter!

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  21. This was an interesting read Leanne. I have a similar conversation quite often with my partner. He always expects worst. For the decade of my fifties I also always expected the worst. Luckily I was able to leave my worries behind on The Camino. I don't stress as much now about what could happen

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  22. I am such a worrier, especially regarding my daughter. I always seem to imagine the worst things that could happen to her and I wish I could be more laid-back like my husband as it definitely takes some of my enjoyment out of things. None of my worst case scenarios have ever come true, so I should relax more. Easier said than done, though! I think mums are naturally hyper-vigilant, I just want to learn to tone it down more.

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    1. In regards to thinking of the best case scenario, I think we so rarely let ourselves imagine it because we fear failure. But visualising things going well can help us to make that happen, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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  23. Leanne - I live in a world constantly shifting from 'worst case scenario' to 'everything will work out - it always does'. I also find that if my husband is involved in whatever the situation is, if one of us is feeling one way, the other balances back -- I think it keeps us realistic. I consider myself a practical visionary -- so I think these circling views help me to remain in the center. My pendulum constantly swings ....

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  24. Hi Leanne, I used to be that way. Then I learned over time that I would worry over nothing. Now my attitude is: "Don't worry until it's time to worry" and even then if you have no control over the circumstance, why worry? We waste so much time worrying for no reason. We build up the worst scenarios in our minds for nothing. I try to be prepared for things so that I don't need to worry later :) Great topic! Found you from Janice Wald's place. Have a great day and new week ahead.

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  25. Well we have to feature this one Leanne. Far too much energy can be wasted on what may never and usually does not happen. That energy is better used being thankful and joyful living in the present.
    Kathleen
    Blogger's Pit Stop

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