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Super User

Super User

WELCOME TO BOTTOMSVILLE

Other than archaeologists, no-one willingly digs a deep, dank hole in the hope of finding treasure. When we find ourselves free falling towards the bottom it’s usually because we’ve wandered into a dark place in our minds, and on landing we grub around in the soil blaming everyone and everything for our misfortune.  It’s easy to claim the universe is conspiring against us. Actually, the universe doesn’t give a fig. 

We can shout in the hope that someone will hear us and come to the rescue. We can cry but that only brings temporary relief. We can kick and scream and get really angry but that leaves us more frustrated.  Or, we can surrender to our fate.

Warren Buffet said, “The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.”  I would say, put the shovel down and spend that precious, quiet time applying a fresh approach the problem. 

These holes represent facets of our lives where we have made errors of judgement: financial, legal, health, work and relationship being the most common. We can see them as negative and a reflection of failure but if we expend all our energy flailing about and beating ourselves up, there’s none left to ponder on what the hole might have to teach us. Might there be some hidden treasure that would have lain discovered had we not hit rock bottom? 

It’s frightening down there, alone in the dark and we might be in some pain but in order to rise to the surface we need to stop resisting and do some work on ourselves, no matter how distressing.  Firstly, see the pain as a wake-up call for change. Something in your world isn’t right and hasn’t been for some time yet maybe you’ve turned your face away hoping it will sort itself out. We all do that at times.

Holes are metaphors for avoidance. Now is the moment to face the foe. Let’s say your demon is debt but you keep on shopping to alleviate the anxiety. While the walls of the hole are shielding you from distractions, you can mentally come to terms with this self-destructive behaviour and outline steps towards a solution. Small wins are more motivating than giant strides as they create confidence and a feeling of self-worth. 

To be successful requires digging deep into your heart to unlock the origin of your behaviour. Continuing with the example of debt and shopping, maybe it stems from being bullied at school for not having a decent pair of trainers. We go to any lengths to rid ourselves of the feelings of shame and poor self -worth that accompany these situations and if that means reckless spending, so be it. It’s irrational but makes emotional sense. 

 The real work starts when we are plunged back into a murky past to excavate those painful feelings and lay them out on the surface for examination. This is when having the right kind of support is invaluable.

 The last time I paid an unsolicited visit to Bottomsville was when my business hit a brick wall. After much soul searching I decided it was time to wrap it up and move onto something new. For a year, I was angry. There were no shiny beads or bits of interesting pottery in my trench but after a while I spotted a tiny shard of glass twinkling in the mud. It spoke to me.   You are not your career. You are an individual with plenty more to offer. Help one person and you help the world.

Be like the archaeologist. Get off your bottom!  See that hole as a place of treasure – of wonder. That is your life. Prepare to be filled with awe as you reclaim that discarded bit of you and integrate it in your life in a meaningful way. 

It doesn’t mean you won’t fall into another hole but next time you might peer down with interest and walk round it.

This is what I’d write on my post card from Bottomsville. Didn’t want to come but so glad I stopped by. 

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Why some books are getting on my nerves - literally

  I must be losing my sense of adventure. That, or I am simply getting old.  Books that would leave me unable to sleep or have me snatching a glance at yet another paragraph to see if murder most foul had been committed or some other heinous crime no longer suit my nervy temperament. My adrenaline glands are fatigued. So says my doctor. No more excitement for you!

   The term “gripping psychological thriller” used to be like a shot of the best red wine through my veins which, incidentally, I can’t tolerate any more. Now it’s becoming an overworked marketing strapline.  I should know, it’s partly the genre I work in. So many books buzz around on Amazon with dramatic headlines the books don’t deserve. Obviously I am not mentioning any here but I’m sure you’ve read stuff that neither lives up to the hype nor complies with some trades descriptions act.

  Keeping people in suspense for 80,000 words is no mean feat for the writer and I wonder how many books are abandoned because either the reader is disappointed after a few chapters or being of a  certain disposition can’t cope with the suspense provided by the unreliable narrator ( a new bit of jargon I’ve recently acquired). Can your nerves take another fictional garrotting or are you becoming so inured to blood and gore that it leaves you feeling cold? Are we being offered templates of similar storylines, defective characters and unrealistic interaction? In short, has the psychological thriller had its day? Probably not but I think it needs freshening up a bit.

  A lot has been written about this genre but here’s my tuppence ha’penny worth.

   One important ingredient for a psychological thriller is to get into the minds of those who are suffering and not necessarily the character responsible for inflicting the pain. It’s easier to do if you are weaving in some personal experiences as you can write from the inside out. This is what I’ve done in my two books to date. It’s more important to show how this suffering plays out – out of character behaviour, unexplainable mood swings and changes in perception – rather than forensics or police procedures. Even plot takes a bit of a back seat.

  The most ordinary and balanced of people can find themselves responding to a threat or a loss in the most extraordinary ways. I talk to many of these people through the counselling work I offer. When it comes to emotions, nothing is predictable yet I find myself wanting to shake some of the characters I read about because either they don’t come across as authentic or to use some recent vernacular like “snowflakes.”

As for me, I need a break from grubbing around in twisted psyches and have turned to something softer and less rooted in harsh reality, at least for the summer, to give my nerves a rest. 

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