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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

The Tools We Use

Updated: Jan 13


 

In 2004, I relocated from my final duty station in San Diego, California back to my place of birth in Amarillo, Texas. On the drive, which took just under 16 hours to complete, I listened to a number of CDs to stay awake.

 

One disc I played a few times on that nonstop journey was Styles P’s 2002 album A Gangster and a Gentleman. It was the song “Nobody Believes Me” that shifted my perspective of Styles P from a rapper to that of lyricist status, because of his creative storytelling.

 

Describing the track, one artificial intelligence source states that it “appears to tell a story from the perspective of Styles P, who shares his unique experiences and conversations with various objects or entities in his life. It delves into themes of isolation, paranoia, and the struggle to be understood.”

 

Using the colloquial term “hammer” when referencing a firearm, Styles P’s first verse states:

 

I’m about to open up, listen. One day I fell asleep and my knife woke me up. He said, “Your gun is in the closet flippin’, talkin’ ‘bout I get the most action. He about to soak me up!” So I went to the closet, said, “Hammer ,what’s wrong with you?” “You ain’t busting me off, it’s like I don’t belong to you.” I said, “I just beat a case, daddy, and I’m tryna take it easy, ‘cause I gotta move this weight, daddy. Then the hammer said, “Man, listen, you used the knife twice in a row. Tell me if the plan’s switchin’. ‘Cause we used to get around together, we used to put niggas down together. Tell me if it’s now or never!” I said, “Hammer, take it easy, baby, ‘Cause I got niggas to kill and I would never do you greasy, baby, and all you gotta do is chill a while. And then the hammer said, “Cool, ‘cause you know that I feel you, Styles.”

 

The lyricist describes how upset his gun was that Styles P’s knife saw more violent action than the firearm. From a psychological perspective, there’s a lot to unpack in this regard though I’m disinterested in analyzing subjective inferences at the moment.

 

Rather, I view the song through the lens of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), as the track relates to use of tools. Ultimately, REBT is merely a tool with which people can improve their lives.

 

Nevertheless, I realize that a surprising number of people with whom I’ve shared REBT have opted not to use the tools. Typically, they allude to the notion of seeking perfection as a reason not to use REBT. Regarding this matter, I stated in a blogpost entitled Useless Tools:

 

[O]nce a client has a collection of tools to use though neglects to do so, unused tools may not be useful. Those with whom I work have likely heard me declare, “The tools we use less are useless.” (It’s a self-evident term.)

 

To further illustrate this point, consider Styles P’s “hammer.” If the firearm were left untouched and in a closet, it would be highly improbable for anyone to die from the weapon, because firearms generally require human influence in order to shoot.

 

As an example, I left San Diego for Amarillo to perform subcontracting security services at a nuclear weapons facility. A condition of my employment was to exercise firearms proficiency.

 

In my off time, I diligently practiced marksmanship to increase my level of skill. Though I wasn’t the best shooter among my nuclear security peers, I was accomplished enough to train for competition shooting events.

 

At no point in the execution of my training did I achieve perfection. In fact, the below-indicated .gif of me shooting displays a missed shot. Watch for the impact on the berm (raised soil barrier).

 

 

Use of tools is done imperfectly, because humans are imperfect beings. Dear reader, have you ever avoided accomplishing a task due to fear of not completing it perfectly—or at least exceptionally?

 

If so, how did you feel (emotion and body sensation) about the missed opportunity? You see, when we unconditionally accept imperfection in ourselves, others, and life, we can—at minimal—tend to tasks we’d like to accomplish.

 

Suppose we mess up, like unintentionally throwing a shot when shooting for time at steel targets which are in relatively close proximity. Our mistakes merely leave room for improvement.

 

What’s important in this regard is our use of tools, not the unachievable perfection for which we strive. When at a shooting range, human influence over a hammer is necessary for proper performance, though perfect execution isn’t the aim.

 

Likewise, the techniques of REBT require human manipulation in order for the tools to remain useful. Therefore, the tools we use to improve our lives are generally more effective when we actually employ them—and do so imperfectly.

 

In “Nobody Believes Me,” Styles P has a conversation with a tool specifically designed to end life. Paradoxically, I’ve used the song’s example to address how use of REBT tools can better one’s life.

 

The choice is yours, dear reader. You can refuse to practice REBT tools, leaving them in the proverbial closet of your mind, or rigidly demand perfection through your use of these psychotherapeutic techniques while disturbing yourself into a miserable condition.

 

Personally, I prefer a third option—imperfect practice. The tools we use can make all the difference. So which option will you choose?

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

 

References:

 

Green’s Dictionary of Slang. (n.d.). Hammer. Retrieved from https://greensdictofslang.com/entry/payjqrq

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2022, November 4). Human fallibility. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/human-fallibility

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2023, June 3). Perfect is the enemy of good. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/perfect-is-the-enemy-of-good

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2022, October 20). Useless tools. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/useless-tools

Songtell. (2023, July 15). Meaning of Nobody Believes Me by Styles P (Ft. J-Hood, Sean Cross & Sheek Louch). Retrieved from https://www.songtell.com/styles-p-ft-j-hood-sean-cross-sheek-louch/nobody-believes-me

Styles P. (2018, July 28). Nobody Believes Me [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/PsFLo9VfZnY?si=0JKAdX4Q3r8UsWjW

Wikipedia. (n.d.). A Gangster and a Gentleman. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Gangster_and_a_Gentleman

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Styles P. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Styles_P

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