The what if mindset can end up creating an emotional
vulnerability that leads to debilitating self-doubt.
A creative writing strategy consists of two words to help a writer build suspense, give depth to character personalities, and provide unexpected plot twists.
What if the protagonist committed a crime instead of solving it? What if the miserly curmudgeon ends up the person leaving anonymous care packages on his neighbors’ porches? What if the two bitter political opponents became collaborators? (Well, we can hope, can’t we?)
You get the idea. The story gains pacing, traction, and interest. The what if strategy pumps up the plot.
In real life, what if can lead us to explore, stretch, and grow. Think of the college student who explores a new major course of study. Or the middle-aged executive who decides to ask what if I built my own business? Or a volunteer organization brainstorms a number of what if scenarios as it tackles a community dilemma. What if can fuel ambitions goals and dreams.
In some cases, though, living a life of what if can lead to anxiety, pain, and confusion. Think of someone you know who may live in a reality based on what if assumptions that stunt growth, interrupt sleep, create crises where they do not exist, or hinder movement. Assumptions about what could possibly happen. The what if mindset may create an emotional vulnerability that leads to debilitating self-doubt. I know those two words, what if, can exhaust me if I am not on guard.
But can we learn from these uninvited dwellers in our minds?
The poet Rumi reminded us that “this being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival…be grateful for whatever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
Why do our what ifs exist? What can we learn? Who can help us? I know at times my mind, if I let it, can provide more plot twists than a best-selling novel. Remain aware Remain mindful.
Video recommendation for the week:
A reading of “The Guest House.”
Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.
My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.
Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.
In the meantime, check out her blog.
And you can still order:
- My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
- Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.
You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®