What IS?

Suzanne DaileyBlog, Manage Better, Teach Happier


  • We can change our mindset from thinking “What if” with worry to consider “Even if” instead.
  • Instead of “What if”, consider “What is”. What do you know? What are the facts?
  • The small change in words can make an impact on your ability to cope and your wellness.

And just like that, it’s September. Some of us are already in the full swing of school, and others are about to begin. Regardless of where we are in this new school year, the tasks are piling up and our time is limited. So with that in mind, this month’s blog post will be short, highlighting extremely short phrases; but these short phrases will hopefully have a big impact on your teachermind and teacherheart. 

In December 2020, in the post titled, “Even If,” we learned how to harness our rational optimism by recognizing that there is actually a whole lot more in our life that we can influence and control. For example, we may find ourselves getting wrapped up in our “what-ifs” like this: 

  • “What if the technology fails for my math lesson when I’m being observed?”  
  • “What if my son doesn’t do well on his science test?”  
  • “What if I get another student and have to rearrange my classroom to fit the extra desk and supplies?”
What if. Even if. What is. These are all such tiny words in such compact phrases, yet they can make a substantial impact on our emotional wellness and overall perspective. Click To Tweet

Even If

We can move these what-ifs towards an even if mindset: 

  • Even if the technology fails for my lesson, I will get some chart paper to model the concept.” 
  • Even if my son doesn’t do well on his science exam, we’ll grab a snack, sit down together, and look through the test together. We can talk about preparing for his next test.” 
  • Even if I get another student, I’ll ask my colleague to help me rearrange to fit the extra desk and organize supplies. We’ll blast 90s music and knock it out in no time.” 

This strategy of even if is something that helps me every day (and I have heard from many of you who it helps as well!)  because it’s easy to find ourselves worrying about something that is out of our control. Adjusting the language from what if to even if allows us to make a plan with a possible concrete action, and that can help us feel a bit more aligned and peaceful. Even if supports the DBT strategy of “coping ahead” because we can envision the actions and strategies we’d use if that imagined situation actually occurs. 

Even if is so good, right? What if I told you we would level up even if? Oh, yes we can! 

This summer I was chatting with my therapist, Jen*. Here’s the gist of how the conversation went: 

Me: “Jen, I’m all up in my head about [insert family challenge] and I just can’t get out of the loop that it’s all going to implode.” (Let the record show that my imagination is top-notch when it comes to creating possible tragedies with those I love the most. Bless.) 

Jen: “Ok Suzanne, I see you’re worried about these things happening, but tell me what is.” 

Me: “What is?! What do you mean?” 

Jen: “You just did a fine job dress rehearsing all of the tragic things that could occur. But none of them are actually happening. And if you think about it, the chances of all those awful things actually happening is pretty slim. So let’s get you away from this pattern of thinking.

Ground yourself with what is. What are the facts? What is the actual reality of the situation?” 

As I unpacked those imagined challenges (read: tragedies) and replaced what-if with what is, it gave me the opportunity to anchor my head and heart into the true reality of the situation. I found myself breathing a bit deeper, I actually felt my shoulders lower. This was quite freeing. 

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What IS

So let’s go back to our 3 examples and give what is a try: 

  • “What if the technology fails for my math lesson when I’m being observed?”  
  • What is: My technology is working just fine right now, and there’s a good chance it will work just fine tomorrow too. I’ve got chart paper and markers ready just in case. 
  • “What if my son doesn’t do well on his science test?”  
  • What is: My son studied and doesn’t know how he did on his test yet. There is a chance he didn’t do well, and there is a chance that he did. His favorite snacks are ready if we need them! 
  • “What if I get another student and have to rearrange my classroom to fit the extra desk and supplies?” 
  • What is: Currently, I am not aware of getting another student. I will focus on the students in front of me and put my energy there. 

What if.  

Even if.  

What is.  

These are all such tiny words in such compact phrases, yet they can make a substantial impact on our emotional wellness and overall perspective.  

As we enter this brand-new school year, our teacherminds and teacherhearts have never needed it more.


Small Shifts. BIG Gifts!

When you find yourself getting into the land of “what ifs” see if you can ground yourself by shifting your language to what is. When you do, see if it makes a positive difference in your headspace and heartspace.



About Suzanne Dailey

Suzanne Dailey is a proud member of the Teach Better Family! She is an instructional coach in the Central Bucks School District where she has the honor and joy of working with elementary teachers and students in 15 buildings. Suzanne is Nationally Board Certified, a Fellow of the National Writing Project, and has a master’s degree in Reading. She is dedicated to nurturing and developing the whole child and teacher. Suzanne lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Check out the Teach Happier Podcast here!