Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anxiety vs. Intelligence

OK. The day that I wrote about the warring opponents, anxiety and intelligence was the day before my birthday which accounts for the possible slight increase in my anxiety and decrease in intelligence. Plus I had attended a Field's End (Writing Community) Roundtable the night before; Anthony Flacco told us that all writing takes the form of a screen play. I was trying out his model.

Now a few days later, my anxiety is gone, my intelligence seems to have survived, and I have a new Macbook Pro, which increases my general sense of well-being but hasn't helped my screenwriting techniques. But, I'm ready to take on the aforementioned drama, with a stressed woman as the protagonist, fighting the spoiler, anxiety, who is assaulting her own intelligence and the perception of her intelligence.

Act I. Introduction of the Protagonist; Stressed woman (See Nov. 17th  post for further description of protagonist)

She's pacing, talking out loud to herself, berating herself, sounding stressed out, uptight, and negative. She's alone on the stage, in a grey suit, looking grey, feeling grey, sounding grey. She stops at a desk, looks down at her computer and reads out loud:

" JCT at intelligentwomenonly.com
Stress most frequently is caused by anxiety and creates anxiety. Anxiety is fear of the unknown. Anxiety is often caused by negative self-talk, an internal stressor.
E.g. If you are presenting a report to the Board of Directors, you are anxious. You fear the unknown.
How will your report be received? Will you forget an important part? Will the equipment for your Power Point presentation work? Will people respond positively or think you don't know what you're talking about?
Neither the flight nor fight response will help you reduce stress in this situation.

Stress can also be caused by fear. Fear generally is elicited by a known external stressor. 
E.g. if a bear attacks you, you are afraid and stressed. You fear the bear, a known potential aggressor who can hurt you. Is he going to kill you? Can you get away? Should you fight back? Should I "play dead?"
Either the fight or flight response will help you reduce stress in this situation."

"Oh my gosh," she says. "This blogger is reading my mind. But she doesn't tell me what to do and I have to go to this meeting in 10 minutes. I don't have time to go back and find out how to fix my problem. I'm stressed to the max already. Now I feel even worse."

Act II. The climax.

The same intelligent women, making a presentation to the Board, recognizes that her internal monologue (loud and intrusive) is raising her anxiety and lowering her confidence. It's decreasing her focus on what she is saying and how the audience is responding. Although her IQ hasn't actually dropped of course, she's not thinking clearly and quickly. She's coming across as preoccupied, a bit slowed; she sounds uncertain. She realizes with sudden awareness she has to make a change — or lose the battle between anxiety and intelligence. Fight or flight won't work. The enemy is internal anxiety, not an external force. She summons all the power of her intelligence, remembering a few lines from the blog she had just read.. "I won't be my own worst enemy. I will be my own supporter," she says. "I can stop the descent into charcoal grey because I'm smart even though I'm stressed.  I can do this. I can do this. I can do this, " she says inside her head
Act III. Dénouement or the resolution
With a flash of lightinng, the grey suit turns to red, the protagonists color pinks up, her body language becomes expressive, energy flows outward from her brain, her voice lifts with confidence. Clearly, she has vanquished the enemy, anxiety, and his weapon, negative self talk. Her intelligence has snapped to attention. Her internal monologue, displayed on a screen above the stage, is now saying, "I am doing this well," while she is presenting her report with polish and pizazz. The Board rewards her slick turnaround, her snappy style, her solid content with a standing ovation. She controls her tears of joy and relief as she takes a modest bow.

I think I'll have to practice a lot more before I try another screenplay on my blog!

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