March 9, 2016 10:00 AM EST

My book, What if: How To Create The Life You Want Using The Power of Possibility, started as a nagging idea while I was finishing up my graduate degree in social work. As I worked with clients, I knew that I wanted to blend my certifications in coaching and reiki (a touch-based healing technique) with my degree as a psychotherapist.

On the one hand, I wanted to help them explore everything that’s possible—their dreams, their desires and their hopes. On the other hand, I also wanted to assist them in unpacking and exploring their past and the reasons why they found themselves where they were when they came to me.

“What if..?” was a question that could be used in both instances, and I heard myself doing just that.

“What if you hadn’t….?”

“What if you could….?”

“What if you weren’t/didn’t or were/did…?”

As I continued using it more deliberately in client sessions, I started to really understand the power behind these two little words.

Fast-forward many months, and “What if..?” started to play a bigger role in my own life. What if I wrote the book? What if I published it? It took one final nudge for me to sit down and start typing. A trusted teacher and advisor asked me to say, “What if…?” and follow it up with whatever I could think of—beyond what I even thought I desired. It was as if my book was trying to write itself (which it sort of did). Time and time again, the phrase popped into my head or was somewhere in my environment.

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You know when you hear something over and over again and, although you’re hearing it, you’re not actually hearing it? Then, one day, someone or something comes along and says it again, and it’s like, “Boom!” there it is in the forefront of your being?

“What if..?” is a simple little phrase that belies its greatness. It is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to manifest the greatest joys or undermine even the most assured confidence. It all depends on how you use it.

Martina E. Faulkner is a life coach and author of the book What if: How To Create The Life You Want Using The Power of Possibility.

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