Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Two Tricks That ALWAYS Work To Make Me Feel Better

A few years ago, when I was at a low spot and needed "something" to make me feel better, I learned two tricks that could change my attitude around pretty quickly. The first I have shared on this blog pretty regularly: the gratitude list. It's hard to feel badly for myself when I have a list before me, in black and white, of many of the blessings in my life. It's become so second nature for me to compose gratitude lists that I often find myself doing it, mentally, in the crappiest of circumstances.

I have a bad history with cars. For some reason, I seem to buy cars that are cursed and/or lemons. This week, I increased my track record by one more notch by blowing a head gasket. I don't know a lot about cars, but I know it's bad when all of the little gauges on the dashboard start pegging in the red and the little warning lights all pop on. As I pulled over to the side of the road to let my car cool down, I found myself mentally making this list - I am grateful for: being able to safely pull over on the side of a busy highway without panicking, finding a safe spot to be able to make some phone calls to start fixing the situation, listening to TJ when he recommended I buy the extended warranty (because cheapskate me didn't want to "waste" the money), being only a few miles from the shop where I was going to need to take my car when the head gasket actually blew, having the money in the bank in an emergency fund to cover the deductible of my extended warranty, the fact that my extended warranty covers a rental car for me to be able to continue to get around for the next week, etc.

Despite it being a really unfortunate situation, I actually didn't end up feeling that badly about it because of the practice that I have been in of finding reasons to be grateful under all circumstances. Inconvenient? Absolutely! End of the world? Not even close....

My other "go to" trick to help turn my attitude around is designed to change how I feel about ME, not my circumstances. My gratitude list shows me that things aren't that bad, in spite of what my brain is trying to tell me. My other trick is to write myself a fan letter. When I find myself feeling like I can't do anything right or that no one notices when I do...or even worse, that they notice, but don't like me enough to bother to mention it, this is a tool I can use to acknowledge to MYSELF the things that I am doing well. The instructions are simple: write yourself a letter as if you were the world's biggest fan of yourself, and don't use the word "but" at all. A compliment isn't very effective if it's couched with a "but" in it: i.e. "I really like your outfit, but it's not something that most people would feel comfortable wearing." The things you are impressed with about yourself don't have to be big deals, like finding the solution for world hunger; they just need to be things you are impressed with about yourself right now.

To be honest, I haven't used the fan letter in a while because most days, I don't feel like I really need to - but this week, I have been in a funk. Maybe it's pregnancy related, maybe it's just one of weeks, maybe it's time to go back to therapy (which I have scheduled for Tuesday evening...), but whatever the case, I am in a funk I just can't seem to shake this week, so it's time to pull out the big guns.

Dear Jeannine,

I am writing today because I am huge fan of yours, and I wanted to give you specific examples of why I think you are so awesome.
1. You handled the blown head gasket like a totally cool headed adult. Not only did you stay calm and pleasant with everyone you had to deal with, you had the foresight to take TJ's advice and get the extended warranty AND you have an emergency fund so you can pay for things like this when they come up.
2. You walked on the treadmill or outside 5 out of 7 days this week, despite stiffness and soreness, which is awesome for your health and for the baby's.
3. You remembered several people's birthdays, before they happened, and remembered to order their presents before it was too late.
4. You did 7 loads of laundry.
5. You potted some beautiful flowers in the planters out on the back porch, which makes the whole area look more pretty and inviting.
6. You made a meal for a friend that just had surgery, so she wouldn't have to cook for her family while she was recovering.
7. You were helpful and creative during a meeting for work this week.
8. You scheduled a new therapy appointment.
9. You paid your bills, on time.
10. You made people laugh by sharing your new underwear with them.
11. You made time to catch up with some old friends via email, text and phone calls.
12. You recycled - a LOT. You even brought stuff home from work and a meeting you went to so that you could recycle it at home instead of throwing it out in the office.
13. You were sweet to your husband more than you were cranky, even when your inside feelings didn't match your outside behavior.
14. You went to work every day, and put in a whole day's work.
15. You admitted a mistake you made at work quickly, and corrected it as quickly as you could.

I could probably go on, Jeannine - you've had a really good week. Even though you haven't felt like a rock star, you have been doing a great job this week of "acting as if", and moving forward anyway. I am super proud of you, and in case no one else tells you today, I think you are just awesome.

Love, Jeannine

I do feel a little bit better now that I did that. I feel almost a little silly sharing some of these things with you - like they aren't "good enough" to go on a fan letter - but that's the whole point of doing this exercise: to give myself credit for the things big AND small that I did well this week. So, if you find yourself kind of feeling like I have been this week - crummy, cranky, unnoticed and unappreciated - I hope that you'll find a few minutes to try writing yourself a fan letter...because quite frankly, you ROCK, and if no one else tells you today, I am super proud of you.


  1. This is totally awesome! And for the record... I think you rock too!

    1. You ain't so bad yourself! ;) Thanks so much!