October 10th, 2011 | 30 Comments

WHAT IF?… We Increase Optimism and Decrease Anxiety

By Lori Lite

“WHAT IF the pole falls on your car when we go into the store Miss Lori?”   Nine year old Jane asked me as I parked the car in front of a large utility pole. ( I cannot make this stuff up!) “Hmmm…What if it doesn’t and we come out to find the car exactly the way we left it?” I responded. We both smiled, took a deep breath and off we went.

I am amazed at all the WHAT IF? scenarios children can come up with in a 24-hour period. When coupled with negative outcomes, these words create unnecessary worry, fear, and anxiety.  I say unnecessary because most of our worries NEVER materialize.

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain

When we ask the world, or ourselves “WHAT IF?” we have the power to answer our own question with our choice of positive uplifting words. Children are creative and many are eager to fill in the blanks with anxiety causing outcomes. “What if we fall in the pond?” What if a monster is hiding under the bed? What if no one likes me?”  This negative self-talk creates anxiety and keeps happiness at bay. WHAT IF? has the power to create stress or increase optimism. By coupling WHAT IF with positive hopeful outcomes we can experience calm and joy. WHAT IF becomes an effective stress management technique for adults, children, and teens.  A simple WHAT IF lowers stress levels and keeps us optimistic and hopeful.

Take the WHAT IF? challenge! The next time you hear your kids or yourself filling in the blanks with negative words…take a moment…take a breath…smile…. and finish your question with a positive outcome!

 Here are a few examples of how to use WHAT IF to reduce anxiety & increase optimism:

WHAT IF my son gets the best teacher?

WHAT IF monsters are only in movies?

WHAT IF I am on time for my appointment?

WHAT IF I stay healthy?

WHAT IF we sit next to the pond and have fun?

WHAT IF I make a great grade?

WHAT IF everyone likes me?

WHAT IF I hit a home-run?

Still not convinced? Look at the positive uplifting words “IF” can be found in.


  • Shift      Beautiful
  • Lift     Gift
  • Uplift   Bountiful    Terrific

  •                 Magnificent


Take the WHAT IF? challenge….keep me posted!


Indigo Dreams CDs introduce children, teens, and adults to positive statements. Positive statements are an effective stress management and self-esteem building tool and are included in each CD.

Indigo Dreams  shorter stories  with positive statements for younger child. 

Indigo Ocean Dreams longer stories with positive statements for older children.

Indigo Teen Dreams guided instructions with positive statements for teens.

Indigo Dreams: Adult Relaxation guided instructions with positive statements for adults.

Indigo Dreams: Garden of Wellness stories for all children with positive statements.


Stress Free Kids founder Lori Lite is a freelance blogger, social media strategist, parenting expert, and successful entrepreneur. Her line of books and CDs are designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger. Ms. Lite’s books, CDs, and lesson plans are considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, doctors, and yoga instructors. Lori’s award winning books received national attention on Shark Tank and her sort after accessible tips have been featured in hundreds of publications to include: CNN Living, Real Simple Magazine, USA Today, Family Circle, Working Mother Magazine, and Web MD. For more information visit  Stress Free Kids and for daily advice follow Lori on Twitter and Facebook.


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30 Comments on “WHAT IF?… We Increase Optimism and Decrease Anxiety”

  • An amazing post Lori. I was smiling all the way through it. Love the fact you found words with if in them.

  • LOVE THIS!!!!!

  • Attunement. In these past few months I have heard this word but it did not make sense to me until I came across an advertisement on a yahoo site. I saved it on my computer to read it today. And boy o boy! My eyes have seen the glory! Wow It is much clearer now and I can not wait to spent time with my six year old, really looking forward to putting this into practice. Thank you for making it important to put this information out for individuals like me. What if I never checked my inbox yesterday? Wow. I might still be feeling lost and wondering when that rock from the sky was going to hit me, or the lighting. Who cares! Today I choose to take what was lost and put it on cruise control and breath.

  • Thanks Naomi…. I was smiling as I was writing it!

  • Wonderful to hear from a Dad. This little WHAT IF trick should be a dad favorite…Enjoy cruise control and breathing…you sound like man on a mission!

  • Thanks Kim! I have been thinking about this tip for so very long….finally wrote it down and it feels so good!

  • I love this article Lori. What a great way to model to kids how to recognize negative thoughts and transform them to positive ones. I love the list of words you came up with. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Great Post. It talkes just as much energy to go positive as negative so why not choose positive? Because we’ve been conditioned to go negative through all the input around us. There is tremendous freedom in going positive!

  • Thanks for posting this! I love it when we can teach our children to look for the positive in things. My oldest is 6 so we are just now getting our “feet wet” with needing different techniques. Thanks again!

  • I think this artical is great…LoVE IT!!!!!

  • Thank you April I really enjoyed writing it.

  • Thanks Dani, Sometime it is the simple things that make a big change.

  • YES! Positive thinking is FREE and effective!

  • […] WHAT IF?… We Increase Optimism and Decrease Anxiety.  This is the first of two articles from this site that I want to feature…. Optimism in our children is so important.. children that believe they have a positive future apply have so many protective factors at play. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post.   […]

  • I am SO grateful for this post. I’ve got two kids with OCD, and we’ve been through years of CBT at Sick Kids Hospital..and truly this one little What If trick has had more of an impact than all the therapy they’ve had so far. The difference in my daughter’s anxiety the past few nights since I told her about this and we started practicing it has been huge. This morning on the way to school she was telling me she’d seen a commercial for a scary movie before bed last night and it was freaking her out, and she decided to try focusing on ‘What if that is just a movie, and not real?’ and was able to calm herself and go to sleep. I can’t tell you how helpful this has been, and it’s going to be game-changing in our house – a way to focus on positive possibilities instead of fear about negative ones that usually never happen! THANK YOU! 🙂

  • Michelle, Your comments took my breath away…. Thank YOU so much for taking the time to post this. It means the world to me and inspires me to keep sharing little bits of myself to help others…so happy this is helping you and your daughter lower anxiety..

  • A simple positive “What If” reaction from a parent could teach children problem solving techniques. Children suffering from anxiety feel comfort when they believe they have some control over the situation.

  • Problem solving techniques really empower children…makes being an adult oh so much easier.

  • Lori, you have a beautiful talent and the energy to be helpful to many people! Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and encouragement because it is important to have good examples for staying positive.

  • Thank you very much. I truly enjoy sharing my experience with others.

  • Fantastic idea! I am constantly bombarded with “what if” questions and now, thanks to your ideas and suggestions, I can put a positive twist on my son’s anxiety (and our reader’s as well). Do you mind if I re-post this on http://www.raisingboysworld.com?

  • Lori,
    This is . so important to have in my “bag of tricks”. I teach kids yoga and coach gymnastics. Often other coaches will disdain my soft, touchy-feely approach to coaching, add opposed to their more disciplinarian style. But I believe I can model good, parenting, good coaching, and help athletes believe in themselves with positive thinking. Next time a gymnast is standing on the beam crying, I will be sure to ask “what if”.

  • Hi Jennifer, I am thrilled to know a coach is reading these tips. I have seen the damage negative angry coaching can have on children. There is a way to produce champions with positive self-esteem building methods. Thank you for commenting…What if…coaches were open to learning a new way to coach?

  • Really enjoyed the post. “What if there is nothing but dust under the bed?”

  • You are so right! Love your comments and I promise I will REALLY TRY to find the positive. It is so much easier to worry. I am going to try to be more positive every day.

  • LOL Barbara, EXACTLY!

  • Each day is a new opportunity to focus on the positive. I have to remind myself too!

  • Lori — this is fantastic!

    What if we all adopted this way of thinking — out with the gloom, in with the rainbow. Thank you for sharing.

  • This is so cool. When I was little I was teased by my family for always saying “what if” – like many times per day. Who knows what I was “what if-ing” about but this made me smile and inspired me to use this with my kids! Thanks for your creative take on this!

  • Beautifully written! Its very true, I found myself stuck in more “What Ifs” after I become a mother. before that it was worry-free life. As we want everything safe and perfect for our children we keep on worrying and expecting more in life. Thanks for the post! Reading such articles regularly maintains the positive energy in us.

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