For so long, I lived in fear and shame. I’d live in the past and think of all I should have done differently. After a while in “should-land,” I’d jerk myself into fear of the future, using my mistakes as proof of the terrible things to come.
I yanked myself back and forth — from what if and should, or fear and shame — from the past and future that by the time I got back to the present moment, it was like I was in whiplash.
I let my current and present moment feel painful because of all the things that went wrong, and all that COULD go wrong. It was exhausting. That’s why I decided to get off the horrible ride I was on and brought my mind back to where my body was: the present moment.
That’s what this podcast episode is all about. If you’re stuck on that ride of yanking yourself back and forth, I want to show you a way to get unstuck between regret and fear of moving forward.
You can listen to the podcast episode below, or get the details below!
Listen to the Podcast here
What “What If/Should” Whiplash is and examples of when you feel it
This is what I call what happens when your lack of belief in yourself and the world manifests. Really, this is fear and shame personified, and both are like naughty small children fighting over the same doll: you.
It’s spending ANY time feeling negative about both the past AND the future. As in, you’re looking at the past and feel shame in your body instead of a feeling you enjoy. On the flip side, when you’re thinking about the future, but instead of possibility and hope, you feel dread and fear.
Basically, when it’s your brain is in a different place than your body. Your body is always in the now, or the present moment. But sometimes your brain time travels to the past and the future, perpetuating fear and shame.
Let’s start with the future and looking at it with fear. This is what I call the “What-if Inertia.” You ask yourself low-grade questions that keep you spinning. Questions like, “What if [X] happens?” and you don’t have a real answer, or you don’t WANT to answer it, so your mind immediately moves on to the next question like, “What will happen if I lose everything after that?“. It’s like a snowball effect. One question nervously leading to another.
But then, you stop and switch directions instantly to “I-should-have Inertia” and build up speed until the cycle starts again. But instead of slowing down when you changed direction, you snapped to the complete opposite way.
After a while of doing this, you feel whiplash where NOTHING feels good. Giving yourself this fear and shame whiplash reinforces that you’ve made bad decisions before, and you’ll continue to do them again. Your belief in yourself suffers.
This whiplash also reinforces the idea that you have no control of your surrounding and can’t get off this horrible carnival ride that’s causing pain. In other words, a lack of belief in the world and other people.
Examples of “What if/Should Whiplash”
Mentally time traveling between fear and shame probably shows up in a lot of different ways in your life. But for the sake of space, I’ll go into three of them in detail here.
This is probably the most prominent side effect of staying fear and shame. It’s when you’re thinking about all the decisions you should have made better. Then, of course, whipping immediately to “What if this happens?“.
Like when you say something like, “I should have done [X] differently, what if that means I can’t do [Y]?” Fill in the blanks with what you’re telling yourself.
Do you see how quickly that jerking between what if and should? This is a perfect example of how this “whiplash” can happen because every time you think a thought like that, you NEVER feel good about it, right?
Compare and Despair
This is when you think about how you should have done XYZ because other people did. OR “I SHOULD do this in the future,” especially to reconcile the past should have mistakes. In this case, the should comes up in both fear AND shame. Or in both fear of the future AND shame from past mistakes.
Loved One’s Vice Grip
This probably shows up in two different ways in your life. Let’s break down both.
1)When people in your life don’t act in a way that helps you live like you “Should”.
For example, when you think you should be a better mom when your kids are rowdy — their rowdiness takes out of that perfect mom image. Or your partner doesn’t go out as much as you like, ruining your vision of what a relationship should be like.
2)When you’re scared of them leaving and think “what if I lose them”.
This thought makes you change who you are to satisfy their wants. All the while, you’re miserable because that’s not the way it “should” be.
And/or you hold on to them too tightly NOT from love, but FEAR. Remember, love doesn’t need time travel. Love is when you love who they are and WHERE they are, even if it’s away from YOU
Helpful and Unhelpful emotional time travel
The main principle behind the “What If/Should Whiplash” is the idea of mentally and emotionally time traveling. There are two ways to do this. You can come at it with fear and shame, which never feels good and doesn’t help you in ANY way. Or you can productively and objectively look at both the past and the future to help guide your present moment and leave you feeling empowered.
Unhelpful Emotionional Time travel (fear and shame)
This is when it TAKES your confidence and leaves you feeling fear and shame. Like, making “bad” decisions mean something about your identity. Or keeping things out of your control and focusing on wishing you could change circumstances and other people.
When you’re in unhelpful emotional time travel, you ask yourself questions that lead to more questions that you don’t answer because you don’t feel good about them. Or questions that reaffirm helplessness. Like, “How will I ever recover from this? How can I live with myself?” and so on.
Helpful Emotional Time travel
This BUILDS your confidence in yourself. You respect yourself from the past and look at it objectively to learn how to become a better you.
Think about it like this. It’s unfair to belittle someone because they don’t have the same info you do now, right? So, if the past version of you doesn’t have the info you do now, how is it fair to judge them for their decisions?
Practice having your past self’s back so you can have your own back TODAY when you make decisions.
When you have “What if’s” pop up about the future, make a PLAN for it.
Decide what the BEST outcome is, and determine the steps your future self took to get there. This helps get you into the practice of getting into the BEST what-if scenario. It’s more productive, but you haven’t practiced being here, so it feels weird and delusional.
If this is what you’re thinking, just remember this: Always staying in the worst-case scenario is JUST as delusional.
Now, look at the WORST case scenario and make a plan of action to get through. And don’t be general and broad, make an exhaustive list! The point is to remind yourself that you won’t just lie there helplessly. You will be in action to move through it.
You can catch yourself in the unhelpful WIS whiplash and turn it into useful emotional time travel.
Step one: Pull yourself back into your body (a.k.a. the present) and ask if you need anything RIGHT NOW in the present moment.
Yes? go get it
NO? Then remind yourself you have all you need right now over and over until you genuinely feel it in your body.
Step two: If you want to prepare/use useful emotional travel, and NOT get whiplash, set an intention before you do. DECIDE your time travel will be helpful.
Have a goal for the end of it.
What do I want to accomplish?
How do I want to feel?
Is this helpful?
Do I feel better?
What do I need to do to make this useful?
How do I use this to feel better?
Ask yourself these types of questions CONSTANTLY.
P.S. If you’re ready to start bringing your dreams to life and finally get over the negative self-talk stopping you, then we need to chat! I’m offering a free 1-on-1 virtual call to help you define your goals, pinpoint what’s *actually* stopping you from getting them and what steps you NEED to take to make them a reality. I can’t wait to talk to you then!
Choose a time below that works for you, and get ready to make a shift in your life.