Taleweaver’s Prompt #35 “Cheat Sheet”

Sunday’s prompt had you writing an instructional manual for the dead but I have often wished that life came with an instruction manual. A simple cheat sheet to help one navigate social events and daily responsibilities. Scratch that I wish I could follow my own advice! I wish that I knew what I knew in a more applicable way.

There are times when we intellectually understand something but emotionally remain stuck.

Children of abuse grow up harboring intense feelings of shame and guilt. Intellectually their innocence is a given but emotionally they continue to battle with the sense that they are in some way defective.

We know the basics of a healthy diet. We know why we need to eat our veggies. We know why we shouldn’t consume too many empty calories. We know the danger of a diet high in fat and sugar. We know why exercise is important. Yet we are often baffled by unwanted weight gain. Intellectually we might know how we ended up in this predicament but emotionally we feel an injustice has occurred. We invent excuse after excuse to cover up what is essentially a very simple truth.

We know what we want to do with our lives, where our passion is, what our skill set looks like and yet we refute this valuable information at every turn. That’s not financially viable. That’s not a grownup job. That’s not a real job. What if I am rejected? What if I fail? We invent excuses to stop ourselves from pursuing our dreams and then adopt an entirely unnatural lifestyle. A lifestyle that is a little bit closer to the one society has prescribed for us. We want to be successful so we copy instead of doing that which we might actually succeed in because our idea of success is so skewed.

Where are you stuck? What aren’t you able to grasp emotionally, despite being an intelligent and generally reasonable human being? How you approach this is up to you. It could be as simple as a letter to self or a diary entry. It could be an intervention by friends or family members. What is the nature of the intervention? Stop dating assholes? Stop smoking? Stop wearing those fugly shapeless sweaters? You might even experiment with role reversal so you might imagine that you are the therapist, friend, spouse, sibling, parent who is giving the well-intentioned advice. You can write yourself a cheat sheet. When someone gives you a compliment don’t argue just say thanks! You can write a screening test to help you identify assholes. Whatever you like.

Serious or comedic anything goes.


  1. Oh dear! I think I make my therapist laugh too much.

    I’m an outlaw with my in-laws (husband’s extremely wealthy nieces and nephews) and we are attending a pre-Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. For my mental health, I usually don’t go.

    I sure could use a cheat sheet for this event, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin!

    Miraculously by Saturday, I need to have a career where I earn almost a million a year, own a house worth over a million a year, have children, and not give a thought to the poor members of the family (us) or the others!

    Sigh. It will be a post for sure. Thanks for giving me an outlet for my depression, anger, disgust and rage!


    • Oh dear! I would have no advice to give. I have a wealthy uncle well his wife is wealthy and he acts holier than the rest of the family criticizing my mom’s every move. I believe they outright hate me, the very limited time I have spent with them is hostile. Ironically my aunt who is not blood related and the actual source of wealth is a lot nicer to me then my actual uncle and my female cousin. My 2 male cousins were only just children when I met them. One of them was too young to be anything but sweet and the other one obviously hated the intense pressure being placed on him to be perfect. I was able to make him laugh quite a lot which is something I don’t think he got to do very often.


    • I once read a piece by Martha Beck that might help ๐Ÿ˜‰ You make a bingo board before you go, and then you play in your head. On the board are things like, Aunt Sue has one drink too many, Great-Aunt Hilda asks me when I’m going to carry on the family name, etc. Then when everyone engages in their dysfunctional behavior, you award yourself points. I think you should have prizes as well!! Just try not to yell Bingo! out loud every time you win ๐Ÿ˜‰


  2. Once again – a fascinating prompt – that offers so many ways of responding and playing with it. Brilliant idea Yves! ๐Ÿ˜€


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