Most of the time, you don’t need a therapist or coach— let alone a “guru”— to tell you what to do. 

That’s not because therapists and coaches don’t know what they’re doing, or because therapy or coaching isn’t valuable. 

(The guidance of self-styled “gurus” may be a different matter.)

It’s because most of the time, we don’t need to be told what to do— we need to be reminded of what we know. 

You have wisdom, intelligence, and experience. 

That’s right. You, right there, reading this. 

If you’re reading this blog, you probably even have a fair amount of knowledge and experience specifically with recovery skills, therapy tools, and personal development programs. 

The value of therapy or coaching isn’t necessarily in all the profound wisdom or new philosophies and tools they make available to us.

We have tools, skills, and wisdom available to us right now. 

The problem is, we very often struggle to remember and use those things when we need to. 

This isn’t our fault. When we struggle to remember or use what we know, it’s not because we’re stupid, incompetent, or worthless— no matter what that little voice in our heads insistently says. 

No, when we struggle to remember or use what we know, it’s most often because we’re stressed, triggered, or exhausted. 

Those circumstances make it difficult for ANYONE to remember and use what they know. 

The keys to successful recovery or personal development are probably not going to be uncovered by paying thousands of dollars to a self help guru for the latest and greatest course in “Mental Mastery and Power.” 

Rather, the keys to recovery and personal development are figuring out ways that work for you— you, specifically— to remind yourself of what you know, when you need to be reminded (and, yes, sometimes a therapist or coach can play an important role in figuring that out). 

How can we remember what we know, when we need to know it? 

First thing’s first: make a list. 

Make a list of every single thing your therapy, your reading, and your experiences have taught you about recovery and personal development. 

No insight is too small. 

Everything that is true– but, more importantly, useful– makes the list. 

You’ve learned ways to reality test your thoughts. 

You’ve learned ways to distract yourself long enough to let a craving pass. 

You’ve learned ways to tolerate pain and discomfort. 

You’ve learned ways to energize and motivate yourself (even temporarily). 

Write them all down. Keep a running list. Add to that list throughout the day as things occur to you. 

Keep your list handy. 

Keep it on your phone, or in your planner, or in a notebook you carry with you most of the time. 

You’re going to need to keep it handy because you’re going to be reviewing it— a lot. 

The not-so-secret secret about all of this is: we have an easier time remembering what we see, hear, read, and think repeatedly. 

I want you reviewing your list of skills and tools— very often. 

I want you reviewing it during down times in your day. 

Review it while you’re on hold on the phone. During commercials while you’re watching TV. While you’re waiting for the microwave to ding. 

Review that list until the tools, skills, and insights on that list become as second nature as your Social Security number or the lyrics to your favorite song. 

Understand: compiling your list and imprinting it on your brain is just a start. 

But it makes everything else enormously, exponentially, unequivocally easier. 


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