Last week on WRITE BETTER NOW, we talked about fear for our characters as we write, and not all of you are writers, but I bet a lot of you are characters. Sorry! We couldn’t help teasing you there.
Anyway, FEAR is great when it comes to writing novels and short stories and getting our characters to do things proactively on the page.
But in real life? Eh . . . It can be a problem.
A lot of us use fear to motivate us to do things. Sometimes we do this consciously. Sometimes we do this subconsciously. But it’s basically the act of doing things because we don’t want an outcome that we’re afraid of.
We go to work because we’re afraid of losing our house to bankruptcy.
We go on a diet because we’re afraid of people’s scorn if we’re at our maximum density.
We are kind to our spouse when they are being a putz because we’re afraid of being alone.
And all those things? They are stressful.
It stresses you out if you’re always doing things because you’re afraid. And it also stresses you out if you’re always not doing things because you’re afraid.
Fear may keep you employed, fit, and in a relationship (albeit a potentially toxic one), but it’s not super helpful if you’re trying to not be anxious and stressed.
So, how do you motivate yourself instead?
One cool way is protection motivation theory.
According to CommunicationTheory.org,
“The theory therefore says that in order for an individual to adopt a health behavior, they need to believe that there is a severe threat that is likely to occur and that by adopting a health behavior, they can effectively reduce the threat. The individual should also be convinced that he is capable of engaging in the behavior which should not cost him a lot.”
Wait, doesn’t that sound like some fear-based motivation?
A bit. But a big part of it is that there is both a threat appraisal and a coping appraisal.
1. Threat assessment
Fear of illness or injury predisposes to act (for example, when you are smoking and coughing a lot).
In turn, this element is made up of the perception of severity (the possible harm to be suffered) and susceptibility (the level of risk the person is at), in addition to the intrinsic benefits of risky behavior.
2. Assessment of coping behavior
It is the probability of success perceived by the person, that is, the perception they have that their response will be effective in reducing the threat, in addition to the perception of self-efficacy (the person will be able to adopt preventive measures).
These variables will provide in the person a perspective on the costs and benefits of performing the behavior.
When you appraise the threat and coping mechanisms, you start to figure out if you should make change and what amount of changes you should undergo.
The Communication Theory article breaks all this down pretty brilliantly, so you should check it out, but it’s about intention and how you keep yourself safe and change your behavior when you perceive threats.
There’s a fascinating article about this theory and food purchasing behavior during COVID-19 and our shopping habits.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Just go for it, damn it. No fear.
LINK WE MENTION IN RANDOM THOUGHTS
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! It’s taking a bit of a hiatus, but there are a ton of tips over there.
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.
Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every once in awhile on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!