What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

“What’s the worst that could happen?” I’ve asked when helping individuals problem solve and make decisions. There’s something about confronting our worst fears that makes it easier to move ahead when stuck. Studies have shown that this is more effective than asking what’s the best that might happen. We are more held back by fear than motivated by our desire for something. Once we confront the worst that could happen, then we are ready to consider the best.

I routinely ask myself this question when I find myself stuck, afraid to go forward. The road to self-publishing which seems so clear on one level, was fraught with self-imposed barriers. It was more than my struggles with technology. It was a fear of what might happen, fear of finding myself a failure. As long as I wrote and wasn’t published I could always say I never had the chance, my writing was never truly tested in the market place. But with self-publishing being so easy now, I no longer have that as an excuse.

What’s the worst that could happen, I ask myself. I could discover that I am a fraud, that the illusion of being a writer was just that–an illusion. Would that be so bad? Freed from the illusion that I might be a good writer who never got her chance, I would now be free to go back to simply writing what I wanted to write, no longer worrying about being published, no longer submitting articles and books to be rejected. I would no longer have to seek out the opinions of others in order to make my writing better. And I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping up to date with technology or marketing myself. I could just be me and write what I want. That’s not so bad. I could go back to what I’ve been doing for years, only without feeling like I’m not living up to my potential. That’s really not a bad place to be.

The worst that could happen could actually be the best that could happen. As one rabbi used to say to people who would come to him complaining of difficult events in their life, “How do you know it isn’t the best thing?” And when good things happened, he would ask, “How do you know it isn’t the worst thing?” Things are seldom as they seem–life has a way of surprising us.

And so having confronted the worst, I’m ready to look for the best! Whatever life has to offer—bring it on. I can handle it!

Have you had an experience where something you thought was the worst that could happen turned out to be a blessing in disguise?

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