by Niall Doherty

From a 2011 article in The New Yorker1, about Hollywood psychiatrists:

Stutz had no patients, and so he cold-called established therapists to ask for referrals. Every day, he’d force himself to approach the scariest person on his list, an undertaking that he described as eating “a death cookie.” Most rejected him, but he found the process generative. “The risk you take has a feedback effect on the unconscious,” he says. “The unconscious will give you ideas and it wants you to act on them. The more courage you have when you act, the more ideas it will give you.”

I’ve had to eat a few death cookies myself recently, calling up business owners and asking about their trade. It can be pretty scary.

What makes it less scary is giving the fear a name. I’m not sure why this works exactly, but it does. Identifying a fear and labeling it somehow minimizes its power over you.

Hence, eating death cookies.

Try this yourself. I’m sure you have a few scary items on your to-do list (whether on paper or in your head), tasks of the Quadrant 2 variety, tasks you keep putting off. Label them as death cookies, and get busy eating.

And if you don’t have anything like that on your list, it’s safe to say you’re not pushing hard enough.

Tell me in the comments: What’s the biggest death cookie on your plate right now? And when are you going to eat it?

Show 1 footnote

  1. Thanks to Jonathan H. for pointing me towards that article.