"What if...?" It's a common phrase used by many. Unfortunately, in most cases, the question is self-answered with something terrible, a catastrophe, an unimaginable event. Some of the possible self-inflicted "What ifs..." could be, "What if he leaves me for somebody better looking?" "What if I don't get the job, can't pay my bills and lose my house?" "What if I get fired and end up homeless?" "What if I get into a car crash and die, or worse yet, end up in a wheelchair for life painting with my mouth?" "What if our plane gets hijacked by ISIS?" "What if I get sick and suffer a long and painful death?" And on and on. Rarely, if ever, are the scenarios positive in nature.
There are several possible reasons why people tend to come up with catastrophic conclusions:
1) You were brought up by a very anxious parent/s; ones who were always imagining and preparing for the worst.
2) You had an exceedingly difficult past where you faced one serious challenge/trauma after another. Those could have set you up early on to believe that everything would always go wrong.
3) You suffer from anxiety or depression. Either of those will have you looking through a foggy lens that make events appear hellish in nature, even before they happen.
Imagining the worst-case scenarios is a habitual way of thinking that isn't realistic. It's what you'd call a cognitive distortion. Perhaps you know someone who is always exaggerating. You might even roll your eyes as they tell you they were the first one to finish the marathon or climb Mount Everest, when you know for certain they can't even finish a 5K or do a basic hike. Well, the catastrophic thinkers exaggerate all the time. In their heads! And because they believe and imagine the worst all the time, they live with a constant undercurrent of anxiety.
If you're taking stock right now and realize that, "OMG, I do that; always imagine the worst!!!" there are things you can start doing right today.
A) Ask yourself, "How valid are these thoughts I'm having? On what am I basing my them?
B) Write your thoughts down exactly how you're thinking them. That will give you a truer perspective. Once it's down on paper and you read it to aloud to yourself, it will appear as something separate from your own thoughts (which most people identify with). NOTE: YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS!
C) Run your thoughts by a trusted friend or family member. People who are outside of your mind tend to have a clearer picture and can set you straight.
D) Next time your mind creates a dreadful scenario in your head, change the scenario. For example, if you think, "What if I don't pass the test and I have to take the class all over again?" then change it to: "What if I do pass the test? How exciting will that be?" You can do that with any scenario you imagine. Practice makes perfect, so practice a lot.
E) If none of those suggestions alleviate your situation, get some help. Reach out to a therapist. A Cognitive Behavioral therapist is the one I'd recommend. They specifically work with the thought process.
You don't have to live in wait for the other shoe to drop. Live in the moment and stop imagining the worst. Trust me when I say that whatever shows up for you, will be handled because you'l be thoroughly equipped to do so.
Best of luck!