Thursday, September 25, 2014

Write yourself a postcard to focus and feel better

Do you ever write to yourself?  Of course you do - we all write notes to help us remember things.
Some people put affirmations on post-it notes so they'll get a mini-pep talk from their computer screen or bathroom mirror. We write to put an idea outside of us so that it will stop wriggling and let us take a good look.

Journals are much longer - all those inviting blank pages (if you're on a computer, the screen is endless). If you fall into one, it can take a long time to climb out. As you begin to tell the story of who you are and what you are feeling, one thing can lead to another. It's hard to be positive and specific and if you're not positive, it's hard to leave the melancholy between the sheets. Longer writing carries the risk that the thoughts we wanted to focus will wriggle free and multiply.

Today, I wrote myself a postcard. There's not too much room on a postcard but it's quite a bit roomier than a post-it note. I wrote it as if I were writing to one of my friends or coaching clients.

I wrote it in two columns. On the left side, I wrote began with "I am impressed with how you. . ." and then I took a few sentences to talk about what's going well this month.  On the right side I started with "I know you are scared."

When I am being me talking to me "I know you are scared" can lead to a rather strained conversation. Either it spirals into all the very good reasons I have to be scared or it is met with some version of "you'll be fine."  This isn't how I talk to friends and clients, but it is frequently how I talk to myself.

On the postcard I said something like this: "I know you are scared. I don't know if you'll succeed. I do know you have light and power inside of you. Connect with that."

It's easier to offer encouragement after you've built up some evidence that what you are saying is true. So when you write your postcard, start with "What has impressed me about you (this month, this week, today)" and then tell the truth. Because even if you think that things are pretty bad right now, you're not just getting beat up. You're also writing a postcard so you can focus and feel better. And that, in itself, is a pretty impressive response.

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