In this way, my bookshelf becomes like a physical manifestation of the neural networks in my thinking brain. The ideas are literally connected in concrete form. This is very helpful when it comes time to think — be it for a writing project, coaching client, consulting or speaking engagement, or, most often, a personal conundrum (these examples are mine, but I’m sure you can come up with some that are appropriate to you). When I need some help thinking, and this happens often, I’ll go to my bookshelf and start searching for insight in the relevant section of the shelf. The “sections” are my own personal cuts of knowledge: formative books; psychology; philosophy; adventure; history; biography; books on writing; sports; fiction that taught me a lot about real-life; etc. These “cuts” are personal since they are intimately related to how my brain works. If you end up following this method, don’t just copy my cuts. Make your own!
This is especially true when I want to blame someone else for something. Blame is a discharge of guilt. We often blame others when we experience the sharp pain of guilt hit our chests. I am trying now to recognize blame as a signal that I feel guilty about something and then take time to examine the reason for my guilt, before I blame someone else.
I’ve come to see everyone as a teacher. As a consequence, I am now constantly trying to get better at listening. I am trying to not only listen to their words but to pay attention to the underlying emotion that those words carry. And I am, in turn, trying to better recognize the way in which I am responding emotionally to them. If someone is speaking and I feel myself getting defensive, angry or protective, that means I have work to do on that subject. It means that I need to sit with it longer, study the energy that comes up and then work to move negative emotions closer to love, gratitude or compassion.