We can accomplish most anything 15 minutes at a time

I’ve been listening to Earl Nightingale’s ‘The Strangest Secret’, a 1956 spoken word record, which sold over one million copies and received the first Gold Record for the spoken word, helping launch the fields of business motivation and audio publishing. 

One of the messages that he repeats over and over is this:


When we listen or read stuff, we might understand what it means but not fully get it, until something happens, and we are able to apply what we’ve learned.

This morning I awoke feeling directionless. I started to go down a road of doubt and despair. As I reached for the tea bag and my favorite mug it hit me that if I continued this line of thinking, that this would be my experience for today. I then took inventory of this week and realized that how I felt on any given day was determined by what I was thinking.

At this point I’ve made my tea and began reviewing my ‘Just for today” list, inspired by John C. Maxwell. I had already put in place this list for good days when I felt in control and felt like I knew what I was doing, and for days like today, when my thoughts fooled me into thinking that I had no plan.

I’m in my library now and I’m reminded of a book called ‘How I Stayed Alive When my Brain was Trying to Kill Me by Susan Rose Blauner, MSW, LCSW, a writer, motivational speaker, artist, singer, and educator who changes the way people think about suicidal thoughts, suicidal behavior and mental disease. She transformed eighteen years of suicidal ideation, three suicide gestures, multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and decades of therapy into the book.

One of the tools in the book is creating a Crisis Plan. The plan is there to help figure out what your needs are and what you’re feeling.

So you basically create a plan for when you’re feeling overwhelmed, trapped, confused helpless or any other feelings you might have.

Here’s an example of a plan:

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Ask suicidal thoughts to be removed from my brain
  3. Choose an activity and pay attention to it (you would have listed possible activities beforehand, e.g. doing a puzzle, going for a walk, showering, playing with the dog etc.)
  4. Write down feelings for later
  5. Call someone – again, list all possibilities so the names and numbers are readily available.
  6. Call an emergency contact (list prepared beforehand)
  7. Put down any weapons and keep both hands on the phone.

I think you get the idea.

Here’s what I’m thinking: what if we had a list for days such as the one I experienced today? What might that list look like?

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Read a glowing client testimonial to remind yourself how awesome you are at what you do
  3. Read or listen to something inspiring
  4. Choose one thing from your list of to-do’s and engage for just 15 minutes
  5. Call a supportive friend
  6. Write down exactly what you’re feeling
  7. Repeat aloud: this too shall pass

While we may not all reach to the point of wanting to commit suicide, our brain is trying to sabotage us for sure, but we must remember that we can control our thoughts.

We needn’t power through it. We need to create a plan because there will be days, like the one I experienced today, where self-doubt looms like a mother fucker, and you can slide down the slippery slope to a hell of your own making in an instant.

All you need to do is remember these words:

I am prepared.

I have a plan.

Let me go read through my plan.

I got this.

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