Early in my career as a director supporting people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, I had a supervisor who shared a wise strategy for how he kept his energy up even during the most stressful of times. He told me that he saved every positive note or expression of appreciation that he ever received and placed them in an affirmation file drawer. His collection actually began as a single file folder but expanded to a dedicated drawer over the years.
This supervisor did not save these items for bragging purposes; they were just kept for his personal review to boost his energy at times when he was feeling down. When one serves in a leadership role of any kind, you learn quickly that no matter how hard you try that you cannot please everyone. Some days can be filled with difficult tasks and negative feedback. If extreme challenges and stressful situations are pervasive for weeks or months, it can set you on a path to burnout.
I adopted this strategy and still use it today. I actually keep a private affirmations email folder, which is filled with positive notes of encouragement and gratitude from clients, friends, peers, and subscribers to “Energizing Tips in Bloom.” If you are one that has sent me a message, please know how much I treasure your support. I am so grateful for this tip from my old supervisor. Even though I am in a positive and upbeat mood most of the time these days, I do have moments of feeling down especially when struck by a grief burst (I miss my parents). Taking a few moments to review my affirmation folder can work like a “happy pill” and restore me to a path of positivity.
Practice Tip: Caregivers are especially susceptible to hearing lots of complaints and stressful suggestions from others. It is easy to get caught up and dwell in a state of negativity. Take action to shift that mindset by creating affirmation files, physical and email, to collect the cards, notes, pictures and positive messages from others. Review the items periodically, not just when you feel sad. Soak in the energy of the loving messages and keep moving forward. You are an inspiring caregiver and deserve every message of affirmation that you receive.
PS: Speaking of affirmations, I continue to be so filled with gratitude for learning that several of my peers nominated me to become a finalist for “Life Coach of the Year” for The International Coach Federation of New England. Hundreds of media sites picked up the announcement, such as the Boston Business Journal. Awards will be given at a Gala Event on June 16th. If you are in New England, I encourage you to attend as proceeds from the event are going to Champ Homes, a non-profit on a mission to provide and maintain a safe and nurturing family-type environments for homeless youths and adults. Go to http://www.icfne.org for more info.