Comment: Every eight emails, I add an extra as a review process, an opportunity to pause and assess how you are doing.
MacQuarrie Email Review #1 — The First Eight Emails
You have now had the first eight emails of the thirty that I will send you. How are you doing?
Take a moment to write in a journal as to what you are experiencing after one month of these emails. Are they helping? Are you getting swamped? What self-care do you need to give yourself so as to minimize being overwhelmed?
My difficulty is to make the emails concrete enough so that they are useful to you, and not so complex that you want to give up. But be aware that in any significant attempt to change your life, you will encounter times when you want give up — that is par for the course. Your skill is to persist. If necessary, send me an email, describing your difficulty.
If you are encountering difficulties, here are some suggestions:
- Give yourself breaks during the day; do things that are fun for yourself? And then return to the process.
- Start what is called a Kid List — write down a list of things that you enjoy, activities that might take anywhere between five and thirty minutes to accomplish, and keep it handy. When you need a break, do one of these activities. Activities could include: watch a sunset, go out in a garden and smell the flowers, hug your partner, read the cartoons in a magazine or on a website, et cetera. Start with ten items (and over time, expand the list).
- Ask someone to tell you what they like about you — people are often very cooperative with this, and you will be surprised as to what they tell you.
- Better yet, have them write something in a notebook, and periodically read what they have written.
- Write a lot (free-flow, stream-of-consciousness, etc.)
- It discharges energy, and creates clarity.
- If you are worried about someone reading it, write nonsense or scribble, or start your writing with “This journal is filled with lies — read at your own risk!” Then deliberately put in a few lies (but mark them is some way so that you know they are lies — if you re-read them months from now, you may have forgotten they are lies).
- Do anything, however small, to make a difference.
The skill is again to persist, and to realize that in some measure, it is a life-time journey.
What We Have Covered So Far
Thus far in these emails, we have covered the following:
- The need for goals.
- What are emotions?
- The primary tools of awareness and discipline.
- A number of simple ideas:
- the triune brain,
- sailors on a ship,
- the pot, and
- the blowing out model.
My role is to provide you with information and encouragement. Remember two things:
- I am an expert in me — I know what works for me.
- And I am an explorer of swamps, the stuff where other people get stuck. I think I am a good explorer, very knowledgeable of issues.
- However, I have never explored your swamp. It is your job to explore it, and I can be a guide, but I am not an expert in you. Your job is to become an expert in you.
- It sounds complicated, and yet as always, it is simply one step after another.
The most important skill of all is that of mindfulness, the discipline of awareness. Emphatically I encourage you to continue to meditate on a daily basis, for at least the duration of this email program (90 days).
And, although I encourage you to study all the tools I am offering, you may have neither the time nor the interest. So, pick at least a couple of tools to use each month, and explore them until you are satisfied that you know how to use the tool.
Then you can decide if the tool is useful, but do not discard the tool until you know how to use it. Remember the first time you picked up a hammer; you were not likely very skillful when you attempt to pound nails — you had to practice, and perhaps ask questions of someone who knew how to use a hammer effectively.
The Wheel-barrel Concept
Finally, remember that a decision is a verb, not a noun — you can change decisions at any time. Language is most fascinating and peculiar in this regard.
- a noun is any word that makes sense when you say the word “the” or “a” before it
- an adjective (or adverb) is any word that makes sense when used together with a noun (or verb)
- a verb is any word that make sense when you say the word “to” before it
Nouns, though, are peculiar. They are either concrete or conceptual. Conceptual nouns are actually verbs in disguise. To tell the difference, imagine a wheel-barrel (perhaps a very large one), and place the noun in the wheel barrel. Can you do so? For example, can you place an apple in a wheel-barrel. Yes — it is a concrete noun. Can you place a decision in a wheel-barrel? No — it is a conceptual noun, a verb in disguise.
Concrete nouns cannot be changed without breaking them. You cannot cut an apple in half, and still have an apple — only two parts of what was originally an apple. In contrast, you can ALWAYS change conceptual nouns — they are actions (verbs) in progress.
So, if you have made a decision to do this course in a certain way or time frame, you can always change how you do it! The decision is a verb, always in transition.
So, don’t give up! You are worth having a better life.
If you are having a hard time, find a friend with whom to talk. Even if you think you have no friends, find a group of people who will listen. For example, even if you have no problems with alcohol, go to an AA meeting or an Al-Anon meeting. People will still listen, especially if you say you feel like drinking just to get away from it all (a little metaphoric emphasis to encourage).