For many, many years now, I have signed off all my emails to the people I care about with the word “warmly”.
I can’t remember where I picked this up from. It was not my own invention. But at some point, I must have received an email from someone with a “warmly” preceding their name, and felt with great pleasure some of the genuine warmth baked into that salutation. Being a human monkey, in true monkey-see, monkey-do spirit, I wanted to pass those warm vibes onto you! Hopefully I have in some way.
For me, “warmly”, is akin to saying “with love”. And why would we not end all our communications in that way, including our professional ones? Warmly has worked well for me up till now, and I still prefer it to the common (and to my ears, less warm and less loving) sign-offs such as “cheers” or “best” or “regards”, as well as the many different forms of “yours” (sincerely, faithfully, truly etc.).
The problems with off-the-peg sign-offs though, including “warmly”, is that through usage they somehow lose their presence and emotional charge, becoming a kind of empty placeholder, a nothing.
So just for fun, I thought I might come up with a few new sign-offs, starting with this one: SPLGE-R.
WTF IS SPLGE-R?!?
SPLGE(R) is an acronym for a set of mind-prompts (re-MIND-ers?) which have helped me to get through 2020.
Twenty-twenty, I need not tell you, has been a very very difficult year for all of us human animals, and also our collective cultures (political, financial, sociocultural, and psychological). However you’ve experienced it in your personal realm, I think it’s fair to say, that 2020 has been an ongoing nappy rash of a year: raw, painful, and legitimately distressing.
As well as relying on the support and care of others (strangers and people close to me), I have mainly used different parts of SPLGE-R to keep myself sane. Well, sane-ish.
As you will see, there are no high-falutin’ concepts in SPLGE-R, and that is why they work! When I’m freaking out, the collected works of Sigmund Freud, or any other psychotherapist or psychologist since him, are of no use to me.
But rather as a moment-by-moment way of keeping myself from flying off into unconscious suffering SPLGE-R is for me, at the end of 2020, the best synthesis of psychological and spiritual wisdom I can find to help keep myself on track.
SPLGE-R! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
You know when your mind takes you off into painful thoughts or emotions – maybe something connected to recent or far-past concerns?
You know when your mind rushes forwards into worried and anxious future pain-states, which it does pretty much on a constant basis, this being one of the its main functions?
SPLGE-R brings you back to your sane self.
By “sane” I just mean “healthy: from the Latin sanitas (health), but extending beyond physical health into well-being.
Sanity, cannot be found in the mind as far as I can tell.
I can only tell you this after surviving five decades my own mind (which has been a joy, as well as a trial), and working quite closely with other minds for a decade or two. But of course I only primarily have experience of my own mind and those of others who open their minds and hearts to me, so maybe my experiential knowledge is not a universal truth. Maybe you have found enduring sanity in your mind? Have you? If so, I’d love to know how you did it 🙂
I do think we can find sanity through the mind though, through working with the mind in certain specific ways. I think psychotherapy is mainly about this, although often the SPLGE stuff gets left out when the mind goes into overdrive.
SPLGE-R is therefore a sanity-seeking path, which in its simplest form, as an email sign-off, might be read as: may you, the recipient of this message have access in your here-and-now to peace, love and joy (aka sanity, or well-being).
The route to that well-being, imho, is probably some version of the following:
Stay Present (SP): I tell myself to stay present when external or internal circumstances are becoming a bit kray-kray.
I know this is occuring when my internal pain body (the internally felt emotional, physical, psychological sense of ouch) starts to break through into consciousness with (unavoidable) pain and (frustratingly avoidable) suffering.
Please ask me in one of our future sessions if it would be good to do some specific practice around the art of staying present. It will take some conscious practice, but it’s totally worth it!
Good news: the practice only takes a second or two. Ideally repeated a number of times each day, but even once or twice is better than nothing.
Let Go (LG): I tell myself to let go about a thousand times a day. And on a good day, I do let go (of painful thoughts, compulsive behaviours, expectations and demands on others, and lots of other crappy things that invade the peace of my mind).
When I’m on track, I do this specific form of letting go about 10-20% of the time. On a bad day, I let go about 1% of the time.
Suffice to say: I suffer a great deal more on those days in which my Letting Go doesn’t happen.
Please ask me if you would like to learn more about the art of Letting Go. It requires a good deal of of practice, but it’s worth it! Good news: the practice only takes a second or two, but may require ongoing repetition for certain hook-y thoughts.
Enjoy (E): I tell myself to enjoy even when I am unconsciously, without any effort on my part, enjoying something I love: like food, or sex, or walking in nature, talking to you in our deep and meaningful exchanges, reading/watching, or listening to something mindblowing. I am a pleasure junkie. I want every drop of it, so I need to remind myself to enjoy it, and then enjoy it even more.
What I mean by even more is: slow-down, take it all in, and consciously enjoy the journey, enjoy it with “presence” you might say. Another word for this is: savour, savour, savour! I also endeavour, when I am present enough to do so, to help myself find some small forms of enjoyment whilst struggling or suffering.
I mainly do this by getting even more present, if possible, but I also find that taking the piss out of myself in a kind and accepting way can help with this process. Also reminding myself again and again that I’m just a silly but lovable animal who can walk upright and talk. And that’s not really the basis for getting anything completely “right”, is it?
Please ask me if you would like to explore ways of getting more enjoyment out of your life, without necessarily having to change your circumstances or your selves in order to do so. It will require some practice, but of all the practices I’ve mentioned so far, it is truly the most fun and enjoyable.
[Sidenote: I think the E here could also stand for EN-LOVE. Enlove is a made-up word. But I think what I mean when I tell this to myself as a mantra, is to try and get the impatient, angry, sad, non-loving self to switch its defensive or stress-response tactics to something more open and allowing. Enloving requires us love our selves other people, and the world, including all the shitty aspects of our selves, other people, and the world in a genuine, and unconditional way. This seems to make the ride a little less fraught for me and for others too. Please ask me if you would like to learn more about the skill of Enloving. Practice, yada yada, etc. But it’s worth it, and won’t our inner-smiling-emojis-avec-halos shine even more resplendently if we do this more often?]
Repeat (R): I need this re-MIND-er the most.
Only because my silly mind seems to think that all of the above is just a once-a-day job, and if it doesn’t do it “right” or “well” (which more often than not, it doesn’t) well then that’s Game Over as far as my mind is concerned.
When in fact, we are all given about 50,000 opportunities to do some of the above on any given day, 50,000 moments lasting a second or two (aka 16-18 hours of “awake”, conscious experience). Writing this late on a Saturday afternoon, I reckon I’ve still got about 25,000 opportunities to practice SPLGE before bedtime. If I’m perfectly honest, I’ll probably only use about 0.1% of that conscious potential. But maybe in the next year, I’ll get that up to 0.2%.
But only with practice, alas.
Alas, because I am lazy, I would prefer not to practice. I would prefer to suffer. But suffering feels crap, so I sometimes do some practice.
In this spirit of gentle reminders to practice, in order to double not just my own sanity, but yours, wouldn’t it be great to re-mind our selves whenever we send or receive an email to do some of the above. Especially if done in a simple, t-shirt slogan way.
So that’s why, I’m going to end each email for now, with SPLGE-R, my friends.
PS: If 2021 feels like a good year for throwing yourself a bit more into SPLGE-R as part of your sanity-drive, one of my Covid projects has been devising and trialling a new modality which I’m really enjoying working on with client-friends at the moment. It’s called: TPON Therapy!
Not everyone’s cup of tea, but the few people who have been kind enough in the last six months to let me guinea-pig the process on them, have given thumbs up to TPON-T, and also some really useful thumbs-down-ish feedback 😉
Check it out if this might be of interest. I’d also really apprciate you forwarding this on if you know someone who could benefit from this kind of approach: http://stevewasserman.co.uk/therapy/the-power-of-now-therapy/