We writers have a sacred obligation to remain calm at all times, except when we’re writing an exciting scene. Further, we hold the truth up to the light for others so that there can be clarity and insight.
Worry is a human reaction to trouble, but ironically can cause more collateral damage to ourselves then whatever it is that we worry about, no matter how serious. Concern is a more useful way to proceed in life, and in order to transform worry into concern, I’m going to suggest that you consider another approach to problem solving, and share the book that has helped me the most.
This classic self-improvement book by Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, has been in print since 1944 and sold over 6 million copies. It contains sage advice for all of us. Here are a few of his suggestions to overcome worry:
- Get the facts.
- Analyze the facts.
- Arrive at a decision – and then act on that decision.
For example, research the facts about the virus, the history of viruses in the U.S, and in New York. Use reliable sources, and draw your own conclusions, then make decisions that will protect your health. This all may sound obvious, but if you remind yourself to get the facts on any topic that worries you, it will cut down your emotional reactions by 50%, which will then allow you to reason calmly.
Now that you have the facts and a plan, you can work on the other 50% of worry, and wrangle your feelings.
- Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen?
- Prepare to accept it if you have do.
- Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.
For example, I could catch the virus, and die. Okay, so if I died, what would happen? Then how could I make this better? Provide or protect loved ones? Protect and share assets, etc.
Although this is a frightening scenario, just writing it down has caused me to sigh with relief, and giggle at my own sense of drama. I am a writer, and drama is our stock in trade, is it not? I can now approach the situation with calm concern, and make smarter decisions.
My addition to Dale Carnegie’s helpful suggestion is that since we are writers, answering these questions on paper, and using a timer set for two minute increments will make this technique super-efficient.
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz