I admit, I swiped this trick from a friend of mine, writer Alisa Bowman. One day, she wrote about how much it helped her confidence to re-read positive emails from friends when she was feeling down and discouraged. I was a bit skeptical and felt sheepish the first time I tried, but soon that all melted away as I searched for and read some of the nicer things people have ever said about me.
It’s easy to forget how much we really do matter in this world. In fact, it’s almost painful to type it out, as decades of social conditioning have taught me that I should disregard those feelings and instead focus on my shortcomings. The thing is, paying attention to the good things we have done and how much people like us for our unique personalities empowers us to continue to make good choices.
I want you to do this, from now on every time you get an email, letter, voicemail or text that makes you smile and feel good about yourself, save it in a kind words file. You can call it whatever you wish and organize it however makes the most sense to you, just do it.
This file will be there for you on the days when you feel burned out or not good enough or questioning the path you have chosen. No matter how confident you are or how positive your attitude is, there will be days when you can use a boost. Your kind words file will be there to supply it.
Why does it work so well? I think the secret is not only reading nice things about yourself but remembering the context, which gives evidence to the great things you have done and will continue doing. When a friend emails you to tell you that the way you handled a difficult situation is an inspiration, you not only feel good that she thinks so highly of you, but it also helps you remember how you did manage to keep your cool and persevere even when times were tough.
If you don’t have much material for a kind words yet, don’t despair. While you can’t force anyone to say nice things about you and acknowledge how awesome you are, the truth is we get back from the universe what we put it. Make it a point to let friends,family, colleagues and others know:
● Ways that they have inspired you
● Little things that reminded you of them
● You are proud of their achievements
● When you notice something special about them
By being the catalyst for bringing kind words to others, you’ll find that the kindness is returned to you and that everyone in your circle will feel a boost to their confidence, feel more positive and more inclined to look for the good instead of the bad.
A kind words file is not about massaging the ego, rather it’s a way to remind ourselves that while we’re not perfect, we have done and will continue to do a lot of good in this world. It’s that kind of reminder that helps you build yourself up so that you can take the steps you need to improve, instead of wallowing in the negative, which helps no one.
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