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First Published, 17/06/05 Wild*Star Books
Person of substance: defined as someone who possesses honesty and intelligence (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/substance)
So hey! If you’re reading this, you’re in need of a little help, or you want to help someone. That’s okay, we’ve all been there. As for me I’ve never really understood when or why I needed a pick-me-up. This book is meant to be a helpful guideline, while providing access to external resources that also assist you as they are meant to. The only thing I really own is my own words.
There are many ways to need help: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, to learn or to teach or even to live. Now, I’m not saying I’m the be-all end-all of how to live your life. All I’m saying is that maybe I’ve got a few tricks to help you live life a little easier than you do right now.
Before we delve any deeper, it is one hundred percent okay to not be alright, to need help, to be anxious. Just writing this is making me antsy. So, you’re wondering how I have the ‘expertise’ to write this book. That’s because I have lived it. I have been on my knees, sobbing because I don’t understand why something is happening. I’ve been terrified to make phone calls.
For the purposes of my narrative, I’m going to use myself as the example case. I will list things that have happened or needed to happen to me, and some of the things that helped.
When I was fifteen, I’d already spent two years deteriorating, physically. This was because I had Hashimoto’s Hypothyroiditis. Long story short, I was depressed, exhausted and sleeping constantly. I went to my nurse practitioner, went through her hoops, got treatment, and have only had more problems because of A)backsliding or B)disinterest/apathy because I grew bored of school in my early teens. Picking up school again has been an ongoing struggle, but that’s another section, if not another book.
Anyway, my issue (or beef) with the traditional self help books and methods is telling you to love yourself. No, I’m not saying you shouldn’t love yourself, but I believe that those same traditional self help books miss a vital step.
How can you love yourself if you don’t know who you are? How can you be a person of substance if you can’t even tell someone else what that substance IS? How can you be proud of who you are when you haven’t defined that for yourself?
Maybe you can ask people, but what are the chances they’re lying? Or worse, trying to spare your feelings? Yes, this is going to hurt. Self work, be it positive affirmation or identification of your own traits, is a painful business. But it’s okay to hurt, because there are many, many people who have hurt just as much even if you never saw their tears.
Okay, so, here’s the recommended materials to have on hand as you read.
-writing utensil and paper or notebook
-open a word processing program
-tissues (if you cry easily)
Now, I see two ways you can do this:
-make a list of necessary tasks/resources
My personal first rule is ‘know yourself’. It means that you should consider a situation and how you would react, given what you know of your nature. While you can and will surprise yourself, having some idea of how you would react is a good way to calculate a better reaction.
And there will be, if there aren’t already, times when you should react differently.
Before we start calculating our natures (and yes, I’ll calculate mine for you) there is one piece of wisdom I am going to offer you. My mother has said it to me before, but she actually got it from a karate instructor of mine.
“Like anyone else, you put your pants on one leg at a time.”
So, now that we’ve established that we’re all equals, it’s time to identify the parts of ourselves. Let’s begin with emotion.
Unlike most people, I ride a baseline of apathy, usually disrupted only by burning rage or amusement. I’ve spent years controlling my anger so that I react with less visible signs of it than when I was younger and lunging at everyone who displeased me. My sense of humour is quirky at best, so while my lips twitch, I’m not likely to laugh. Or, at least I wasn’t a few years ago. I cackle, though, and my Dad recently told me it was annoying (he was drinking at the time, and in vino veritas- meaning ‘in wine, truth’(Latin)-is a very real thing). So yes, Most visibly, I react physically with lip twitches no matter the emotion, and the quicker you piss me off the quicker you get my ass in gear.
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There are a lot of people out there who need help themselves or want to be able to help people. Unlike most books, Marie McIntosh's selfesteem helper 'Gaining Substance' doesn't tout loving yourself off the bat. With dry remarks made from personal experience, a large helping of familial advice and the sensibility to realize you can't love yourself if you don't know who that is, the depth within the short work is remarkable. McIntosh delivers when she promises to advise you on becoming a 'person of substance', and she doesn't hesitate to recommend extra advice from external sources, because she also doesn't hesitate (well, maybe she meanders) to state that she's not promising miracles, she's helping you realize that it's you who has to choose what and how and when to change. The first of a series, Gaining Substance is about helping you heal yourself.