Thank You Shel Silverstein

The impending ultimate life change of having a child definitely makes you think. And if you’re someone who gets anxious over lack of control (HELLO!), this is definitely an interesting time. As I write this, I’m 33 weeks pregnant, which makes that impending life change pretty darn close.

Pregnancy (and from what I’m told, parenting) really take the control away. My body has not been my own for 8 months now. I couldn’t eat cooked vegetables for a while. Deep breathing is awkward at best. Bladder control is slowly slipping away. And soon there will be a little person in my life that didn’t exist previously. So with all of this floating around in my head, I started thinking about my favorite poet Shel Silverstein and wanted to share this poem with you. 


Last night, while I lay thinking here,

Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?shel-silverstein
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pol?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow talle?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!

– Shel Silverstein

The “Whatifs” are the epitome of anxiety and control issues. They are also all about over-thinking the future. So, when I find myself in a Whatif loop, I remind myself to take a deep breath and stay in the present. There’s no need to worry about giving birth to my child; I should enjoy the feeling of that little life moving around in my belly. There’s no need to worry about if I’ll get my taste back for healthy foods I used to love and now can’t look at; I should go eat some carrots right now.

Catching yourself in a Whatif loop is the hardest part, but once you catch it, find a way to change the present instead of worrying about the future. Maybe you’ve been in a Whatif Diet loop: Whatif I try this diet? Wait, I should try this one. No – THIS is the diet I should try. Whatif I had done this other one instead? Those Whatif choices can drive you crazy AND make you feel out of control (a feeling most of us avoid at all costs). Recognizing your Whatifs and reducing apparent choices (shop at a farmers’ market instead of regular supermarket and you’ll understand!) help regain that feeling of control (even if it is an illusion!).

What’s your Whatif monster?

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