Notes to self

1. You are doing a really good job.
This is something I started saying to myself, frequently out loud, in the month or so before I left to do my fieldwork in Uganda.  Certainly it’s very judgmental.  Sometimes “you’re doing a really good job” is accompanied by “f*** this bullshit” or “Dear God: what the f***?” like when I flew from Zanzibar back to the U.S. for my dad’s funeral.  But I don’t think it really means anything normatively.  The meaning is more like “you’re still swimming.”

But at that time, the pre-Uganda time, there were many tasks to complete, my coursework, worrying about friendships, in physical therapy, and I was more stressed than maybe ever, incredibly harried.  It was a neck-throbbing period, but I was “doing a really good job,” whatever that means, since it always has a context.  No one tells you that you’re doing a good job when you’re doing it, only afterwards, and only in some cases (duh).  Because no one but self ever knows when it is the hardest thing you’ve ever done and that you’re not sure, at all.  So you have to tell yourself that, if you thrive on praise, competition, and “doing things well,” like I do, at times.  Several times a day, every day, when you’re at the hardest part.

2. You are very strong.
I started telling myself this to get myself to the other side of the pool when I was swimming in Kenya.  Maybe because I was quite tired most of the time, immune system probably under attack, and I had to tell myself that I was strong in order to stay strong.  And I think it worked!  It’s a thing my dad said once, too, though it hurts to think about, since he was incredulous, and I knew he realized it where other people hadn’t, or had only seen sensitivities, vulnerabilities, saying, “You are so strong.  How did you get to be this strong?”  Group swim instructor also said it the other night, and I responded, “yes, I am,” like Beyoncé probably would in response to “you are very beautiful.”    

3. “Brownies.”
I also tell myself “brownies” (and sometimes “ice cream”) to get myself to the other side of the pool.

4. You are going to be okay.
Sometimes I sing this one to myself.  My dad used to say “everything will be OK,” just like that, so I’ve had to take over the management of that one.  Since everything is broken, but everything will be OK, and reconciling those two things is “the struggle,” for me.

5. No more suffering.
I don’t know if I believe this one yet, but I like it.  It’s the thing I have been saying to keep myself from the self-harming thought spirals or ruminations.  I extracted it from a Modern Love column  about a woman and her husband.  And maybe my version is: “this thing that hurts doesn’t need to hurt you this much.”

6. Calm the f*** down.
I frequently think this one while trying to get to sleep.  And a lot of other times throughout the day.  Self-explanatory.

7. “Jesus”/”grace”
I don’t really know where this one is going yet, but it’s good to think about sometimes.

8. There are 24 hours in a day.
This helps when I start over-scheduling.


What are the things you tell yourself?

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2 Responses to Notes to self

  1. Excellent list. You are strong, and you are doing a really good job. In IT, no one congratulates you when everything is working, so we teach ourselves that a quiet day is a good day. Our work should be invisible, i.e., the better technology works, the more smooth and seamless it is in people’s lives.

    Writing in response to your question: “What are the things you tell yourself?”:

    When I feel fearful, scripture songs run through my mind. My favorite is: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound mind.” Music is incredibly uplifting and a good antidote to feelings of fear, anxiety, and loneliness.

    Since our “event,” I have new definition of “crisis.” Most everything we experience in life is not a crisis even though people regularly use “crisis” language to describe their events. I refuse to get wound up or out of sorts. “Calm, peaceful, and centered” are my new mantras. This mindset goes with #s 4-7 on your list.

    Lately, I’ve been **asking** myself, not telling, “What do I want to do?” and then doing that thing. You come from a long line of women who know the importance of taking good care of yourself.

  2. Jo Ann Whitley says:

    Add to your list “I am loved!”

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