Why I write myself Love Notes
Like so much of the world, therapists are not immune to the temptations of negative self-talk and experiences. Many of us know the science, we intellectualize, and then like many succomm to rough days or past experiences and fall into the trap of negative thinking. As humans we are wired to think negatively. We are wired to look for danger, remember the things that caused us pain, and at times get stuck in negative beliefs that do not serve us. As a therapist, I have the privilege of sitting with people and learning what negative beliefs they are struggling with. One of the most popular ones I’ve heard is “I’m not enough”. So many of us are operating from a place of not feeling like we are enough for our job, our kids, our husband, or maybe even our clients. This belief often starts young and then is fueled by various experiences along the way. For example, a girl is told at the age of 8 she is not smart enough to be in a certain class, at 12 the same girl is told she is not pretty enough to sit at a certain table, at 15 told she is not good enough to make the basketball team. For some, this may not create a negative belief, in fact for some this may fuel a desire for success in which this girl learns that she is enough in many other ways. For many others, however, this could be the beginning of the “I’m not enough” mindset. This is a pretty basic example, but throw in some trauma or a longer list of adverse life events and you can see how this can spiral into not only negative thinking but negative behavior. When we are constantly getting messages or have gotten messages that we are not enough they stick like velcro, which is referenced in the book “The Happiness Trap”. So if difficult situations are thrown at us does that mean we are all doomed to become negative miserable people? Well the simple answer is no.
So how do we change the thought loop of being “not enough” to the opposite; well there is not one hard and fast rule but something that I have found effective and relatively simple is learning to leave yourself love notes. Yup, leaving yourself love notes. Culturally we are conditioned to believe that it is the responsibility of someone else to leave us affectionate notes, but the truth of the matter is that it is actually just as important (if not more important) for you to leave yourself love notes. Since I am someone who likes to keep things simple, I am a fan of writing loves notes on sticky pads. I love that they are affordable, sticky, and if you are feeling creative made in a variety of colors and patterns. You can also create sticky notes on your computer! How cool is that? I for example leave myself love notes in many ways. My background on my computer literally states “You Are Enough”. It’s not a flower, or a beach, or a picture of any kind. My computer that I use nearly every day carries with it the subconscious (and at times conscious) message of reminding me that I am in this moment and every moment enough, just as I am. It reminds me of the line in the film Bridget Jones’s Diary, where the main actress is told by her love interest “I love you just as you are”. I mean who wants to be told “I love you, but would love you more if you were thinner”. We want to know we are enough, so if you are not sure what message of love to create for yourself, I’d say that is a good place to start. So here is my challenge for those of you reading this blog today – start with one love note a day. I challenge you to write yourself an inspiring message and to place it on your computer, fridge, bathroom mirror, wherever you feel most pulled to become critical of yourself. Do this for a week and then monitor other shifts that occur, maybe there will be no dramatic changes, maybe they will be subtle. The goal here is consistency, grace, and kindness for yourself, you know the type of self-talk many of us struggle with. I also encourage you to choose other acts of kinds for yourself today and throughout your week. Maybe kind to yourself is seeing a counselor, maybe it’s making healthy meal choices, or maybe it’s saying NO to things that make you feel like crap. Lastly, you are uniquely made so what works for your will be unique to you but starting with a little love note is a good way to begin the process.
Sincerely, someone who is also a work in progress.
Nicole Vega LMSW, CHC is a counselor in private practice in Grand Rapids, MI. If you would like to learn more about how to start writing love notes to yourself, please click the link above for a complimentary consultation.