Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Getting Rid of the Bad By Bringing in Some Good

I used to do this when I was feeling particularly low.

What are 10 things that make you feel good or happy? List them. Here are some of mine for inspiration to get your thoughts moving in the right direction.

1) Watching a Shirley Temple movie.

2) Baking something.

3) Painting or drawing.

4) Turning on some classic rock LOUD and dancing around.

5) Taking a bath (actually, reading a good book in the bath).

Try it. List 10. Then when you’re feeling horrible and can’t seem to pick yourself up, choose one of your things and DO IT. Think of it as a way to take care of yourself. Think of creative ways to keep this list ready and easily accessible. For example:

Get a little corkboard, cut your 10 things into strips, and tack them up in a random fashion on the board. Display the board somewhere near your desk or a place you frequent. Let your eyes dart from idea to idea when you’re feeling depressed and when something looks comforting to you, go with it.


Write each of your 10 things on 10 separate colorful pieces of paper (maybe even post-its if you’d like). Then, put each thing in a place you tend to stray to when you’re having a bad day or a hard time, i.e. near the toilet so you’re less apt to purge (if this is a habit of yours), on the fridge so you’re less apt to binge (if this is a habit of yours), where you keep your alcohol if you’d be likely to turn there for comfort, even near your bed so you’re less apt to just lie there and/or cry and let your low mood take hold.

Everyone is different. We all have different problems and different preferences. But there are simple ways we can comfort ourselves if we just bother to take note of what works for us. I have noticed that watching an old Shirley Temple movie, maybe with a cup of tea, always puts me in a better mood, makes me smile, and gives me a little comfort. Recognizing this allowed me to create something to do when I was feeling desperate and wretched. You’d be surprised how little things like this incorporated into your week (and more importantly, your life) can make a big difference. Because you’re taking care of YOU when you do them. You’re not fighting yourself. You’re not giving in to bad habits or destructive ways. You’re not wallowing in self-hate, depression, or whatever else might be plaguing you. You are giving yourself something good.

And a little good can go a long way.

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