Tag Archives: self-help

First things first

Prioritization, it’s one of the cornerstones of getting stuff done. Maybe it’s the only cornerstone. But I guess then you’d have to imagine everything that you’re getting done as being in the shape of a giant capital L. It doesn’t matter, I said the word cornerstone, I don’t know why really, why do I pick any word over another word? It’s all just some unoriginal way to say something unoriginal. I could have said bedrock, foundation, you know.

But I’m talking about getting your priorities in order. It’s essential, before committing to any task, to figure out what you’re going to do first, then what you’re going to do second, right? All the way until you’re finished. But even then, you’re hardly done prioritizing. Because that thing that you just prioritized, that’s just step one in a multi-stepped process which all culminates in everything that you do, your life.

And it’s why I can’t get anything done, I’m terrible at prioritization. I wake up in the morning and I try to just will myself to get things together. I sit straight up out of bed and I say, “First things first,” and I say it with meaning, hoping that that meaning will kind of launch me into the day, like I’ll intuitively know what I’m supposed to do next.

But, and I’ll take yesterday as an example, I woke up, I said, “First things first!” but then I started thinking, well, shouldn’t I have gotten out of bed first and then said first things first? Come on Rob! Get your priorities together. And so I decided I needed to reset the day, so I laid back down and told myself, fall asleep Rob, go to sleep and wake up again and you’ll have a clean slate, a brand new opportunity to really put things in order.

But I should have set a cell phone alarm. You know how it is when you first wake up, right? For me anyway, until I actually get out of bed, go downstairs, and have a cup of coffee, it’s not like I’m really awake, awake. What I mean is, until I have that caffeine pumping through my system, I could at any time hit my head to the pillow and resume sleeping as if I had never woken up in the first place.

Which is what happened, and this is just stupid, typical me not setting out my priorities in a prioritized fashion, I woke up to my alarm clock, I turned it off, there was the whole, “First things first!” followed by everything that I just talked about, and then I hit that pillow, I went back to sleep. The next thing I know I’m sort of waking up naturally, really almost groggy from what I’d soon discover after looking at the clock was way too much sleep. What time was it?

It was almost eleven thirty. Talk about not having my shit together. My dog was whimpering at the bottom of the stairs because he had to go to the bathroom, so I threw on some shorts and took him out, all the while squirming because I myself hadn’t even gone to the bathroom yet, and so I felt bad, I didn’t give him a chance to really get out there, to really sniff the ground or pick a spot, and it’s that whole thing about, priorities man, your plane’s going down, you make sure that oxygen mask is on you before you start helping out the little kid sitting next to you, in my case, the dog who just refused to go to the bathroom, and yeah, maybe I was pulling his chain a little too hard, but man did I have to pee, and it was this whole thing with me not having my keys in those pants, so, and I’m such an idiot, I tied him up front while I hopped the fence in the back. I couldn’t get into the house, but at least I could pee in the backyard, but as soon as I unzipped my fly I hear, “Rob! What the hell are you doing?” it’s my wife, I’m like, “Baby! What are you doing home?” and she’s like, “It’s Saturday! What the hell are you doing? Where’s the dog?” and I’m like, “He’s tied up out front!”

I’ll cut to the chase. She got up early, it was Saturday, I had just forgotten, I think I forgot to add keeping track of what day it is in that list of priorities, and she took the dog out already, that’s why he wasn’t peeing. It was almost lunchtime. “What if the neighbors see you?” she was screaming out the window, and I was like, “I don’t know, why don’t you scream a little louder and maybe they’ll look out back to see what’s going on!”

And I was starving. I wanted a bacon egg and cheese but it was almost lunchtime, and come on, what kind of a prioritizer am I supposed to be, eating breakfast for lunch, on a Saturday, I think I work on Saturdays, I should have checked my schedule, maybe that’s what all of those missed calls were. It’s about understanding the importance of getting up on time, returning phone calls, man, priorities, right? First things first.

I say yes!

Without exception, when the universe asks me to do something, I always say yes. I say, “Yes universe! Yes, yes, yes!” not always out loud, but a lot of the time yeah, it’s out loud. Sometimes I scream it. Sometimes I’ll scream it while I’m spinning around in a circle, punctuating that final “Yes!” by pointing my finger straight in the air, like if there were a camera circling me from above, they’d see that last shot, that last “Yes!” like you could freeze-frame it, like you could put that photo on the cover for every spiritual self-help book, or you could make a spiritual self-help magazine, a monthly, maybe a bi-monthly, you could call it Yes! Magazine.

“Unlock your inner Yes!” might be the headline for the first issue. I don’t know, that was just one idea. We don’t necessarily have to go with it. It’s just that, I always say yes to any ideas that pop into my head. One time I read this article on how to be a writer, it said, don’t just write down anything that pops into your head. And I thought, jeez, that’s terrible advice. It’s like, what was I doing, reading No! Magazine? “Delete that last headline: Everything you write is terrible” might be the headline for No! Again, maybe it would be something else. I just can’t really picture anybody buying a copy of a magazine called No!

Well, I mean, I guess there are some things you should say no to. Like crack. Like crack cocaine, I mean, it’s part of the universe, right? Like it’s made out of the same star dust or whatever that you and I are made out of, that everything’s made out of, right? So maybe you don’t have to say “no” to crack. Maybe you can say yes, but then maybe just don’t smoke it? Like, maybe you can make some jewelry out of it. Like a nice crack necklace? Or what else can you do with rocks? You could collect a bunch of them and maybe line your garden with them? That could be kind of nice, maybe?

You see what I did just there? I was right in the middle of maybe thinking of an exception to saying yes to the universe, and what did I do? I wound up saying yes. I said yes to crack! Think about everything else we can say yes to. Like I used to get so bent out of shape, every time I went to the movie theater, every time I bought a popcorn and soda at the concession stand, the cashier would go, “Do you want to donate a dollar to charity?”

And I would get so mad. I’d be like, these stupid movie theaters with their stupid expensive soda and stupid dollar charities. I thought to myself, I want to say no. But I’ve already committed myself to saying yes! So I thought, OK, well what if I just say yes? Do you want to donate a dollar? Yes! And then I’ll just walk away, because they only asked if I wanted to give a dollar, not if I would give a dollar.

But I didn’t think it all the way through. The cashier was holding my change, so she automatically deducted the dollar. I said, “Hey, that’s my dollar,” and she said, “Didn’t you want to give it to charity?” and I said, “Well, yes … never mind,” and from that moment on, I made it a point to only pay for movie theater concessions in exact change. That way it could be a very simple, “Donate?” “Yes!” and then, “Goodbye!” walking away, me not having had to give up a dollar, but also not having had to say no either.

While the previews were playing, I started mentally laying out the contents of the first issue of Yes! Obviously I’d include the dollar charity trick. But what about some more tricky situations? Like, what if you’re waiting tables and some guy’s like, “Hey waiter, does this cheeseburger have peanuts in it? I’m allergic to peanuts.” It doesn’t have peanuts. But I’ve made a commitment to say yes!

Or what if I’m walking down the street and I hear a commotion behind me, “Hey! You! Stop! Wait!” and I turn around and some guy just totally barrels into me. We both fall to the ground, he’s holding a purse, he gets up, leaves the purse in my arms and then takes off running again. Two seconds later a police officer runs right up to me, lying on the ground, holding this purse, he shouts at me, “Did you steal that purse?”

What do I say? How do I get out of a jam like that? Maybe I shouldn’t have taken such a strict yes-to-the-universe vow. Shouldn’t I have left in a little elbow room for maybe just a few exceptional “No!” scenarios? Yes?

Feeling down? I can help!

Let go of all of that pain and suffering. Inconsequential. Get rid of it. Take a deep breath. Deeper. Empty out your lungs first by pushing everything out, keep going. OK, now take a deeper breath in, as deep as you can, hold your arms above your head to let even more air in. Great. Now let it out, just let it go, everything. Did it work? I should have explained. That was a symbolic exhaling, the breath a representation of the pain, the suffering, all of that stuff I was telling you to let go of. Try it again, this time, you know, just think about it, what I said earlier.

Unburden yourself, let go of, or, not leg go, I already said that, but release, yes, release yourself. That’s kind of awkward. Unburden yourself by releasing, yourself. No. Take the burden, the one that you’re carrying, and let it go? Yeah, let it go. I’ll start over.

Imagine all of your troubles, picture them all in your mind, every one of them. Everything negative. All of the things unpleasant in your life. Yes, even what I was talking about before, the burdens, the unburdening. Is it pictured? Great, now, imagine all of that bad imagery transforming into a light switch. A wall mounted light switch. Just any regular switch. But this one’s giant. Or, giant for a light switch. Not actually giant. Let’s say like football-sized giant. And now imagine yourself trying to switch it off, but it’s really hard, because it’s so heavy, it’s just this really big, giantish light switch. But just when you don’t think you’ll be able to do it, yes, that’s it, keep reaching, there. It’s off.

Did that work? That’s another representation. Some more helpful imagery. Let it all go. Exhale it all out and switch it all off. OK, and now I want you take another deep breath, or, just do the deep breath trick again, and I’m just getting this now, it’s all just popping up in my head so kind of go with me here a little, but take it all in – ffsswwsshhhhHHH! – that was the inhaling sound – hold it in a little deeper, breath it in a little more, come on, just like before, OK. OK, now hold it. OK now imagine a balloon. A big one. Bigger. I know I can’t see exactly how big you’re imagining it to be, but just, however big your imaginary balloon is, make it even bigger. OK, and you’re still holding that breath in, right? And it’s everything poison, negative, all of the hate. OK, now let it go, into the balloon, and fill that balloon up. The balloon was deflated before, I forgot to mention that. But now it’s inflated. You inflated it. You’re inflating it still.

Keep going, don’t worry, it won’t pop, because you’re imagining the balloon to be unpoppable. Right? It won’t pop, trust me. And keep exhaling. More. Good. Now tie it up tight. Now imagine it to be everything terrible that you had inside, all of your fear, your despair, your self-loathing, all of that stuff. It’s turned the balloon black. It used to be red. Just, just trust me, it was a regular red balloon. But now it’s black.

Oh yeah and it’s heavy, like weighed down to the floor. OK, now imagine a machine, something that you can put the balloon into. OK … just, I don’t know like a microwave, but bigger. Just go with me here. Put the balloon inside. Close the door. Activate the machine. There’s only one button. Go for it.

Wait for it. Keep waiting. OK, and that’s it. Ding! It’s done. Take the balloon out. Now it’s glowing. And it’s not heavy anymore. In fact, it’s floating away. But that’s OK. Just imagine a ladder really quickly, and picture yourself climbing up the ladder really fast. It’s fine, you can do it, it’s your imagination. Catch the balloon. Hold it in your hands. Untie it. Suck everything back in.

You see what happened there? That machine, it made everything positive. All of that negativity, it’s been transformed into positivity. And then you just sucked it right back up. And so do that, picture that little thought exercise, it helps, it helps you let go, it helps you with that release, that unburdening. Just let it all flow over you. No, inside you, that’s what I meant. No, outside, then change it around, then back inside again.

It’s all in your head. You know, except if you have really bad back pain. I’ve heard chronic back pain is just the worst. You should really go see a medical doctor or a support group if you’re trying to deal with chronic pain. This is just for like emotional pain. But nothing too serious. If it’s too serious, you should go to a doctor for that too, that might be depression. I’m just talking about like moderate sadness. Not too moderate. Slightly moderate. Just, just go talk to a doctor. I’m not a doctor.