• Molly Ryan

Stopping those 'what if' moments from holding you back

When I asked a few Facebook groups about what was holding their confidence back, the most common answer was ‘what if’ moments. It's completely understandable (and very relatable) that these are going through your mind. Everyone is thinking about them, maybe without even realising it. For example, you probably drive your car everyday and you are always taught to be thinking about the ‘what if’s’. What if that car stops in front of me? What if that car pulls out at the junction? They are perfectly normal ‘what if’s’ that help to keep us and others safe. But when these moments start to happen in areas of our life that start to hold us back, then we start to see our confidence drop.


Throughout our lives we’ll experience failure. It's something that is unavoidable at some point. Of course, everyone thinks that failing is a possibility when they are taking a test or exam. However, when we become stuck thinking about failing, we start to lose the motivation to continue working hard to make sure we don’t fail. When this happens it's more likely that failure will happen.

So to overcome this ‘what if’ moment, you need to ask yourself, ‘what is the worst thing that will happen if I fail?’

Failing doesn’t mean the end of the road. You can still achieve that goal and reach your dream, you may just need to find another way. Whether this is taking the exam again, or trying something different. Life doesn’t stop when we fail, it's how we perceive that failure which affects our confidence. When we realise that failing is just part of life, we are able to see a new sense of confidence grow.

Getting hurt

Many ‘what if’ moments hold us back because we are afraid we are going to get hurt. Although sometimes these ‘what if’ moments are probably going through our heads for good reason, sometimes they’re just one possibility. Another possibility is ‘what if I don’t get hurt?’, ‘What if it goes well?’. If we refuse to do something just because of one possible outcome, how are we able to move on?

Thinking about all possibilities helps to build critical thinking. This will help to make quick decisions based on careful thinking, rather than one possible outcome.

(obviously, if the ‘what if’ moment is a ‘this is probably going to hurt’ moment, maybe best to avoid!)


How many times have you not gone out to meet friends or try something new because you worry about embarrassing yourself?

The chances are you’ve done it at least once. It's a normal experience, especially when you’re meeting to do something new or different. In situations like this, some people are better at coping than others. Maybe they have experienced the embarrassment and know how they cope, or maybe they never have been put in that position. Either way, embarrassment is difficult and can knock anyone’s confidence. Once we have experienced this, it is hard for this ‘what if’ moment to not occur when we are faced with a similar situation.

The chances are that reason you are feeling embarrassed has already been forgotten by the other people around you. Another chance is that they never noticed in the first place. In a situation each person will perceive it differently. Something that we find embarrassing may not have even been noticed by the other person. How many times do you remember embarrassing situations about your friends? Probably not that many.

Being stuck focusing on ‘what if’ moments is difficult. These moments always have a chance of happening, but you need to remember that there is never one possibility in a situation. In a test, you may fail, but you may pass - two possibilities. You may try something new with your friends and embarrass yourself, but you may also try something new and have a great time - again two possibilities. Every time you think a ‘what if’ moment, think of the other possibilities. Each time you do, the easier it is to build your confidence and start believing in yourself.

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