Over the last five or so years I’ve worked a LOT on my anxiety and self-confidence. I’ve come a very long way, and I’m very proud of that (I’m proud of being proud of myself, okay? It makes sense and it feels awesome so just deal with it). The last two and a half years in particular have been transformative for me as I’ve learned to really like and understand who I have become. There are SO many things that have helped me along the way (people, books, making mistakes, etc), but there’s one thing I want to share right now. I guess it’s technically two things, but they go together so we’ll call it one:
MY QUOTE MAGNETS. I know it sounds super cheesy, but approximately two years ago I bought two magnets at Barnes & Noble and they have happily framed many of my days these past couple of years. I chose them intentionally for their message, and placed them appropriately so I would see them when I knew I’d need them most.
Here’s the first — I stuck it on a coffee maker at work so that every time I stood there to brew coffee I would have a few seconds to read it. Over and over I read it. It didn’t ever not make me feel better. It didn’t make all my stress magically melt away, but it served as a reminder to stop, breathe, and remember who I was trying to become (even if I wasn’t that person right that second):
“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Look at the sunny side of everything & and make your optimisom come true. Think only of the best, work only for the best. Forget the mistakes of the past & press on the greater achievements of the future. Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to critize others. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side as long as you are true to the best that is in you.” – Christian D. Larson
I have a hard time with believing the whole world is on mind side, because even though I’m quite the optimist, that feels a little naive. However, I like to think that much of the world is on my side, because I’m a good person and I think most other people are, too.
The reminder to forget mistakes and press on was (is) always timely, and I certainly would love to be so strong that nothing could disturb my peace of mind. And I can’t tell you how often the reminder to invest in my own improvement rather than spend energy criticizing others helped me bite my tongue and change my focus.
Here’s the second one — it moved around for awhile, but settled on my nightstand. That’s where I’ve found it has done me the most good — as the last thing I see before I go to sleep:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Oh, to be unencumbered with my old nonsense! This one always helps me breathe a sigh of relief. It reminds me that it’s not just okay not to beat myself up — it is advisable that I not do so. Own up to mistakes? Yes. Learn from them? Of course. Make it right when you can? Definitely. But wallow in them and let the guilt and regret keep you from BEING AWESOME as you face a new day?
I think Mr. Emerson would advise against that.