Major lessons of the Gem Journey Curriculum

At this point in my vocational career my strongest desire is teaching my students how to master the eight elements of self. Because I sincerely believe if they understand and learn to control each aspect of their lives using these lessons they will be ready and equipped to enjoy the greatest adventure of their lives, their life! The Journey offers each student the opportunity of getting to know themselves, understand themselves and learn the life skills to be in control of their lives. 

The Gem Journey curriculum teaches the acquisition of Identity

The Gem Journey is based on my theory that “we humans’ are composed of eight elements or aspect of our lives that need to be understood and mastered. Each Element of self is unique and independent, yet totally integrated and working in synergy with the other Elements to comprise our identity, the ‘sum of self’ the person we are. Each Element contributes to the sum of self in either a positive or negative manner. With each Element we are presented with a dilemma: Either we learn to control it or just ignore it and suffer the consequences.

The Eight Elements of Self are:

  1. Our Time. 
  2. Our Mind. 
  3. Our heart. 
  4. Our behaviour. 
  5. Our Self-image. 
  6. Our decisions. 
  7. Our Self-awareness. 
  8. Our ‘Dance’

I hypothesise that when all these Elements are under personal control, Identity is achieved.

The following are brief descriptions of each Model and Rule that form the major lessons of the Gem journey. 

OUR TIME:  Originally I viewed the model of Commanding the ‘Stand-alone moment’ as the quintessential anger management strategy and I still very much believe it is. However this mastery is so much more, this is the mastery that equips you to actually take charge of your life. When you command your stand-alone moment you are in control and in charge of your life. This mastery serves as a personal call to action, (on-guard!) ready for use in an instant. This model of mastery has teachable steps which are based on practical mental health principles. Each step is vital to success.

The Stand-alone moment, up until now, has been largely unrecognised or ignored. Yet it is a distinct moment in time, available to everyone; it is the instant in time between being quick to listen and being slow to speak, the instant in time between recognition and response. This gap moment is the most important moment in a person’s life, the course of our lives flow from these moments. It is the instant in time when our decisions are made, actions are taken and anger is either controlled or left to escalate. Learn to Master the Stand-alone moment puts us in charge of our life. This skill set must be highlighted and the command the moment strategies taught with vigilance.

The Five Steps to commanding the moment

  1. Call to action (The point of conflict)- command the moment
  2. Immediately start breathing with purpose (breathing for clarity is powerful)
  3. While breathing deep, ask the moment’s, question: What Should I do?
  4. Apply the Choice Rule– Do what you should do, even if you don’t feel like it, DO IT ANY!
  5. Do it

When you call yourself to action by commanding your stand-alone moment you are in charge, your decision making is focused- you make decisions based on all available options and you Master Anger and impulsivity. What a wonderful behavioural construct to teach our children, a learned strategy to pause and get it right. 

This is a behavioural construct that must be taught. It is the ultimate self-management skill, not only for anger management but also for taking charge of your life.

This lesson is introduced in the Spider’s Web Chapter.

OUR MIND AND HEART: It is impossible to achieve Identity (your best self) if your thoughts and emotions are not under personal control. The Mind and Heart Elements determine everything about us; what we think, how we feel, and what we do.

Both the Mind and the Heart are mastered using the same model. This brief description applies to both masteries.

Sadly, if Mind (your thoughts), and Heart (your emotions) are not controlled – they will control you.

Your dilemma is simple, and you have only one real option, that’s to learn to master your Mind and Heart. The other option is easily accomplished-just it ignore and commit to a life time of poor decisions and poor mental health.

To mastery your mind and heart you must develop a powerful mind-set which is to: Keep guard over your mind and heart by making every thought your captive! By doing so, you keep your heart from being troubled. This mind-set is necessary if you are to take charge of your life.

This Model has three stages and the third stage has four steps. 

Honesty + Forgiveness + Mind Triage or another way to frame it: Identify + Resolve + Manage

To master our thoughts and emotions a person has to apply the first two stages. This is the ‘cleaning up and resolving old emotional baggage’ phase. 

Honesty with self is the first stage of preparation in this ‘renewing your mind’ process.  This is done by starting the process of identifying your personal collection of crippling thoughts. 

Crippling thoughts are debilitating and must be identified as harmful and then be resolved. These are the thoughts that recycle in your psychology and cause your emotions (Heart) to be troubled. Your ‘I can’t’ thoughts, the self-destroying thoughts (I’m ugly, I’m stupid, my life isn’t fair, they love more than me), the mean ‘score keeping’, ‘pay-back’ thoughts, the past hurts, ‘poor me’ themes and the ‘I’m better than them’ thoughts etc….I label all these type of thoughts that disturb your emotions as Shady side of the street thoughts. These are the thoughts that cripple our thinking, make us angry and keep our emotions upset and unregulated.

Once we have identified our crippling thoughts we must resolve by applying stage two of the Model, True Forgiveness. 

True forgiveness is a personal determination to capture this crippler and ruthlessly wipe it from your mind time. You want it resolved, finished. Your thoughts are yours, so make every one your captive- be ruthless. 

Every time the same thought emerges in the future, capture and delete it again using Mind Triage, this strategy denies the crippling thought its nourishment the ensuing rapid fire ‘poor me’ thoughts that fuel the cripplers power and grip on your life. When you block the chain of deteriorating thoughts the Crippler loses its power. It is finished it’s a done deal. The wonderment of Mind Triage is that it is an instant cognitive event.

Mastering your Mind and your Heart gives you the strategy to resolve the thoughts that cause your emotions to be troubled (shady side of the street thinking). By mastering the Mind and Heart you have an on-going strategy (a personal skill set) to keep your mind clear and your heart refreshed.  In the future, as thoughts are identified as Shady side of the street thoughts that you know will affect your emotions, you can resolve them immediately.

 Those old cripplers can be starved by blocking the follow-on thoughts and wiped from your ‘prime mind time’ and soon they will become mere memories that you can reframe into life learning experiences.

Our Heart is the emotional Element of self.  To achieve Identity one must strive to maintain emotional regularity.  It becomes easy to live in emotional balance when you take charge of your thoughts and emotions. Once you are in control of your thoughts, you are also guarding your heart by not allowing your emotions to be disrupted or troubled. By vociferously guarding and managing your thoughts you protect your emotions.  

Every thought is yours. Every thought creates a feeling therefor to be in control of your mind and heart you must guard and protect yourself from crippling thoughts that create those debilitating feelings. 

The steps of mind triage are accomplished by:

  1. Calling up command of your ‘stand-alone’ moment (Instantly standing vigilant Guard)
  2. Capture and delete crippling thoughts ruthlessly
  3. Block ensuing poor me thinking immediately
  4. Reflect your thinking to topics that make you smile. And realise mastery of your mind and heart is an ongoing event.  

The masteries must be practiced until you form a habit of behaviour. A good gauge of our mental health is how much time one spends on which side of the street. Where do you spend your mind time? On the Sunny side of the street or the Shady side of the street in your thinking.

The Gem journey curriculum is a journey to knowing yourself, understanding yourself, and taking charge of yourself.

Mastery of the Mind and Heart are Introduced in chapters 4, 5, 6 ‘Evening with Bartrum’, ‘The Quicksands of Denial’, ‘The Rainbow Staircase’

OUR BEHAVIOUR: Mastery the Behavioural Element of self. A consistent code of living is necessary

The Golden Rule – How then should we live? ‘Treat others like you like to be treated’

In the novel Gem of the First Water, the boy has a dream and sees himself as others see him. He is shocked and wants to change. The story introduces the Golden Rule of behaviour. 

Success in teaching this lesson is creating the conversation to focus on the likes and the dislikes of each student, how they personally like to be treated, then extending the conversation to include all the behaviours they hate from others. 

Both ends of the behavioural continuum are integrated and then you’ve created your own personal Master Rule and code of behaviour. A personal golden rule of behaving formed from the ‘what I like and what I hate’. How then should I live? by treating others the way you like to be treated. The desired outcome from this lesson is that everyone would create their own Golden rule.

  This Rule of Mastery is self-created

A code of behaviour that is appropriate at all times and in all places. It results in a person who treats others kindly and is well liked.

Mastery of Behaviour is introduced in the Around the campfire chapter. 

OUR SELF-IMAGE: To have a healthy sense of self, one must learn how to build a healthy Self-image. Self-image is determined by our choices/decisions and by our accomplishments. The correlation between decisions and feelings is obvious. Our self-image is not inherited it is created, built and developed by our accomplishments. 

The Model for building a healthy self-image is twofold; first it is in decision making (covered in the Choice Rule) and secondly it is learning to accomplish goals. We must teach our children how to get things done. Teaching the concept of how healthy it is to fill your life with one accomplishment after another, is a key lesson. Even accomplishing simple daily tasks adds to self-esteem.  A made bed, taking out the trash, pulling weeds in the garden are all simple tasks that accomplish goals and help us feel good about ourselves.

The Model for Mastering this Element is:

Move all your behaviours in line with your goal + Courage

The use of Courage is such an important life skill strategy. It takes courage to get things done. The dilemma of every task is, the silent personal question, do I or don’t I feel like doing it? Courage is a personal call to action to overcome the first inclination – which is usually, “I don’t feel like it” The Choice Rule is also actioned at this point. 

Courage is the first step. Courage to action the task that requires effort, courage to do the necessary task that must be done in order to achieve, Courage to delay gratification in favour of task completion. We must teach our children to develop flow charts- itemized check off lists. Teach our children how to break down a task into achievable pieces.

OUR DECISIONS: Next we have the Choice Rule, which in fact, is one of the most important masteries of all. Our sense of self our self-image is determined by our choices. The Choice Rule gives standard and security to decision our decision making   

Do what you should do –  even if you don’t feel like it – Do it anyway!

Our self-image is based on the decisions and choices of our lives. The Choice Rule is behavioural code or rule that gives your life security. When this Rule becomes your behavioural habit it makes choices much easier. It reduces anxiety and angst when your decisions are based on a standard. This is a major step in knowing yourself- because you can trust your actions will be consistent which builds a sense of trustworthiness. People will notice and know you as reliable. The application of this Rule builds self-esteem because every decision adds to a solid sense of this is who I am. Decisions solidify self-image. 

This Rule is also the essence of mastering your Stand-alone moment. It is the third step in commanding your Stand-alone moment. The Choice Rule answers the moment’s question.

 ‘What should I do?’ 

Do what you should do – even when you don’t feel like it – DO IT ANYWAY

Most people know what they should do most of the time. And on the odd occasion when you don’t know, seek reliable counsel.

When you apply the Choice rule you have all the response options available. When you are in command of the moment and determining your response you can count on your response being measured, calculated and appropriate for the moment. What you should do and what’s the right thing to do become one in the same. You get it right most of the time applying the choice rule.

This mastery, like all the other models and rules are wonderful self-management skills our children and ourselves need to learn and be encouraged to practice.

This Mastery is introduced in the Pool of Right decisions and Desert of simple choice chapters.

OUR SELF-AWARENESS: The rule of logical consequences

To maintain good mental health one must avoid major life mistakes because mistakes waste time and we often end up taking long time periods to recover from them. This Mastery teaches the importance of keen self-awareness. The cactus rule is also a model with important steps to avoid trouble. This Rule guides by learning to identify and avoid mistakes, lost time, high anxiety, painful recoveries a poor mental health periods of time. 

Steps of the Cactus Rule:

  • At the first hint of trouble! 
  • Command your stand-alone moment!
  • Answer the moment’s question which is always, ‘what should I do’?   
  • Then if trouble awaits
  • Haul Ass (often the correct response in avoiding trouble)

This Mastery is introduced in the Worms Wolves chapter.

OUR DANCE: The Ten Tenants Model. 

The Ten Tenants form a behavioural structure to live your life by. A healthy code of living. Your Dance is enhanced when you make the wonderful discovery that your lifestyle can be developed by learning the models and rules that equip you to accomplish whatever it is you wish to accomplish. You can define what you want to do in life once you have personally applied all the other masteries to your life and have the confidence to set goals and know how  to achieve them.  Adolescence is the ideal time to start formulating the lifestyle that you envisage. Your life’s work should be based on your interests and passions.  

The Three Rules for identity are mastering our behaviour, decisions and avoiding trouble.

Mastery of the Dance is introduced in the Into The Wilderness chapter.

Closing comments: 

  • The gem Journey is now articulated as Interactive Training Modules, near ready for general use.
  • And now for the first time, we have the curriculum to teach our children how to achieve identity by showing them how to be in control of the eight Elements of self. 
  • The curriculum’s eight major lessons form a comprehensive guide to Identity achievement. There are also a plethora of important lessons that equip children for their life ahead.
  • The Gem Journey has been continuously used at Counties Manukau Mental Health since 1996. 
  • 60 minutes segment ‘Survival Stories’ highlighted Gem Journey success with suicidal adolescents (website video
  • NZ Police and Dare Foundation national policing strategy: Dare To Make Change (website video 
  • Presently the Gem Journey is only being taught within the context of my work. 
  • To my knowledge there is no other program teaching these lessons. 
  • Nor making similar claims. 
  • This is a NEW intervention-Gem journey is without Peer
  • The available options to the Gem Journey is present day ‘best practice’ / ‘status quo’ 
  • The time is right to trail a new mental Health intervention
  • Einstein’s definition of Insanity is… Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome