A Little R&R – Reviewing

For a star to be born,

There is one thing that must happen:

a gaseous nebula must collapse.

So collapse.

Crumble.

This is not your destruction.

This is your birth.

Zoe Skylar

Have you heard of a daisy wall?  Well I hadn’t until I had a chat with a colleague about sock drawers!  I know, how on earth can there possibly be a connection?  Well, there is – sort of.

According to my best friend (and I can’t think of anyone else who would dare say such a thing to me …) my mind used to be like a very untidy sock drawer.  Seemingly stuffed full – some socks were my favourites to be used over and over again, some would be whipped out on emergencies because none of my favourites had been washed, with the rest being those crammed at the back – odd ones, some filled with holes, those so ancient they were disintegrating, those I was hanging onto for reasons not even known to myself, and those I should never have acquired in the first place.

Anyway, I was explaining the sock drawer analogy and my colleague said that it was much the same as her daisy wall.  Naturally I jumped on it because it sounds a darned sight better than telling anyone they have a mind filled with socks!

She explained that a daisy wall is a real thing – as all you gardeners may already be aware – it’s a wall with those tiny daisies growing all over it.  I guess the less charitable would call them weeds, but they are rather pretty flowers (Erigeron Karvinskianus!Not sure why I felt the need to give the correct name other than there must be at least one person out there who will just need to know …).  It transpired that these daisies are known for spreading very quickly and will soon invade every nook and cranny they can and, once established, trying to contain them is almost impossible.

What better way to describe that which can blight our lives?  From minor issues to major problems – they creep into our lives and take a hold, so much so that even the thought of dealing with them can seem insurmountable.

Now, as you can read in ‘Breaking the Pattern’ – I mention a technique I use called ‘Rummage, Review, Reframe – which is how I organised my sock drawer. I’m not going to bang on about rummaging here – suffice it to say that once you have a list of your vexations you are much better placed to review and reframe them – as I’m going to talk about in this post (Reviewing) and in the next (Reframing).

That said, if you are having difficulty with the rummaging – and it can be a big task – then look at it like this – you either need to empty the sock drawer out and start to sort them, or knock a large hole in the wall of daisies to see where the roots have invaded.

If you need order, then break it down into roughly three areas –

Self: Behaviour, state of mind, habits and so on.

Others: Who in your life is causing you difficulty?

Circumstances: Living conditions, responsibilities and the like.

Use whichever headings will help you to rummage, and once you have done that then you can start the process of reviewing what you have come up with.  To be clear, though, having a review of what you need to sort through is not about finding solutions, which will come later, but more about giving context to whatever hurdles you may face.  Context is a great way of not only preparing yourself but also getting you started on bringing about necessary change, and with a modicum of clarity and order.

There are several tried and tested methods of gaining an insight and context, but I use a very simple one which has helped me immensely, and which I still use today – it’s based on 4 critical time periods and a simple calculation.

Let me explain –

Taking each item on my list, I asked myself (grading each from 1-10, with one being the lowest and 10 the highest) how much worse would the impact be in 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year.

By way of example – let’s take an alcohol issue and a bad work situation –

Alcohol

1 month (1), 3 months (6), 6 months (10), 1 year (10)

Total 28, divided by 4 = 7

Work

1 month (1), 3 months (2), 6 months (4) 1 year (8)

Total 15, divided by 4 (rounding up where applicable) = 4

Now let’s measure them against this –

1-10 scale

Not surprisingly, alcohol is the action item.

But what if you have a seemingly dreadful work situation – one that is causing you sleepless nights, making you depressed and so on.  Let’s say, for arguments sake, you have scored it as an 8 on the above?

So now you have two action items – which one to go for?

On the face of it, the work situation has scored slightly higher but look back at the time periods and see which is the most time critical – using the above example, the work situation isn’t going to be that much worse in 3 months, but alcohol is.

Alternatively, for the work (or in fact any situation) you can take it and break it down into areas of concern.  Maybe the work situation has several aspects to it – such as long hours, an unpleasant manager, and so on.  Subject each area of concern to the above calculation – is one area far more critical than the others?  Would working on just this one ease the situation to a point where the others are bearable for the time being?

This is far from being an exact science, but it certainly helps with the sifting and the sorting.  It is so easy to look at a whole list of issues and feel completely overwhelmed by them – everything builds up until even the smaller things take on a life of their own and appear much more problematical than they are.

However, I have found that by taking a more clinical approach to breaking them down in this way can certainly remove some of the overwhelm – it gives you the opportunity to take a step back and look at each one in comparison to the others.

I totally get that a horrible work situation can appear every bit as bad as an alcohol problem, but whilst one may feel like the end of the world, the other can end your world if it isn’t dealt with.

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