The “Shelf-It” tool can help you deal with conflict within your relationships with others, and the conflict deep within yourself that sometimes can take you off course. Fully utilizing the Shelf-It tool helps you control the negative emotions in order to allow more positive emotions to fulfill your life, supporting the basic objective of the 110 Philosophy – having more control over more happiness in your life every day. It is a tool/exercise that can be used to help you find ways to get through these emotions without compromising yourself and without dwelling on negative circumstances and feelings. This tool is outlined on page 55 within The 110 Philosophy.
Shelf-It is like mentally placing things in a box and literally putting them up on a shelf. We know that hyper-focusing on health issues, wondering about the unknown, and/or dwelling on negative thoughts can lead to depression and other issues. We also know that we have to recognize what our issues are and create action plans, but that we cannot let these thoughts consume our lives. It is OK to box up certain “items” knowing that you will be unboxing them again — not hiding from them. Yeah, I know that sometimes the box will come tumbling off of the shelf. You have to deal with cleaning it up… organizing then re-organizing and putting it back up on the shelf when you’re ready. Still, the goal is to have the ability to take the box off of the shelf when you want or need it, in advance of a situation that may trigger an emotional response. This allows you to be able to prepare emotionally. As I was writing this blog I thought to myself, how appropriate to use the Tri For A Cure as an example of how I use this tool effectively in a very fun yet emotional event.
2022 marks the eighth year I’ve been directly involved or participated in the Tri for A Cure sponsored by the Maine Cancer Foundation. In October of 2014, ironically “Breast Cancer Awareness” month, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and two weeks before Christmas I had a right-sided mastectomy. I was cancer-free, yet still had numerous surgeries to go as part of my treatment plan. The Tri was introduced to me by my sister-in-law. Initially, denying the reality of my breast cancer situation, I declined to participate. But through her persistence, I accepted the challenge to participate in my first Tri for A Cure triathlon in 2015. I knew that if I could just finish the bike section that the accomplishment would feel amazing. The Tri For A Cure for me has been an incredible emotional yet positive event as it allowed me a glimpse into the future when I would be “well”, and back to “normal”, a moment I was always fantasizing about as I struggled from surgery to surgery. Being surrounded by so many people experiencing the emotions surrounding the same disease that I was dealing with is a LOT.
By 2016, my second year, a hidden auto-immune disease called hyperparathyroidism reared its head and I ended up having neck surgery as an outcome. You can read more about this in an article about me by Diane Atwood. I had numerous surgeries and health challenges (11 different diagnoses at the time) all rooted from the hyperparathyroid. I thought about canceling my participation because of my illness. After all, I was just barely well enough to do the bike. BUT, I didn’t cancel. I needed to go. I needed to open that box if only to reorganize and put it back. And during the surgeries just following the Tri, I had 2 benign tumors in my neck removed and things were looking up.
In 2017, my third year participating in the Tri For A Cure, I did all three sections. This is when I uncovered the foot problems that I had silently ignored due to my health challenges, which had to be fixed. As I never wanted to repeat my grandmother’s history of tearfully painful feet during my retirement years as she spent hers. So the tough decision was made to have both feet operated on in 2018. To be honest, I was becoming exhausted with this box and asked myself, do I want to take this off the shelf? Yes, because this box, for me, is mental weight lifting. It keeps me mentally fit. It’s a tool that allows me to stay in it but not live in it.
2018 was my fourth year involved with Tri For A Cure. I volunteered only which would allow me to actually sit and help others participate in this amazing event. Wow… watching others compete again gave me that glimpse into the future years' Tri for a Cure when my foot surgeries would be behind me. Volunteering and allowing myself to be in the box that was clearly off the shelf that entire weekend, and mentally prepared me for the day that would come in 2019 when I could again be an active participant and do all of the triathlon.
BUT WHO KNEW 2020 and 2021 would be thrown off course and consumed with the pandemic???? AND, a new diagnosis for me, small fiber neuropathy which is a painful disease that creates burning pain all over my body. This diagnosis was triggered along my health roller coaster ride. Fortunately, the triathlon for 2020 and 2021 was virtual those two years.
So, here comes 2022. My diagnosis of small fiber neuropathy is getting under control with a new trial medication and it’s working! In 10 days from writing this, I will cross the finish line, allowing me to put this unimaginable health challenge in my Tri For A Cure/Cancer box and put it back literally on the shelf! I never want to be totally consumed by my illness to the best of my ability hence the importance of shelving it! Why is this a powerful tool for an organization, or for a leader… because you can’t let your emotions take over at work… or in life, but by utilizing the shelf-it tool, you can put it away for now and go back at the right time.