Bindu’s post today had a way of cracking me open just as she describes the yoga practice has been doing for her, and it reminded me that I wanted to acknowledge a practice I have started recently which may help some of you along this journey of recovery.

(And I do think of this challenge as a call to recovery.  Most of us have spent a long time not listening to ourselves and the opening up that Bindu describes in her post is available to all of us.  What is it you’ve kept locked away?  What connections are you missing between mind/body/spirit?)

For a few months now, I have been consciously noting a few things that I am grateful for every day.   Before I fall asleep, I go over them in my head, no matter how large or  small they seem:

I am grateful for the five dollar bill I found hidden in my glove compartment which allowed me to treat myself to a latte.

I am grateful for my beautiful friend who offers perspective when I need it.

I am grateful for the way my pug made me laugh when I was feeling sad.

I am grateful for the unwavering, generous love of the Universe.

After these thoughts, I can drift to sleep a bit more peacefully than I might have if I ended my day by checking email or complaining.  Some days, it’s not easy to come up with a list, and other days the gratitude spills out of me like a fountain.   As practices that open us up tend to do, this one has led to some surprising changes in me, and to some other new habits.

Recently, I started noticing that my thoughts of gratitude were trending more and more toward acknowledging anyone who has supported my art lately.   As I have done that, I have noticed that more and more people seem to be cheering me on.  So, I started formally collecting Encouragers!

Every time someone gives me a compliment about my art, sends me a private email saying my music or writing has touched them, tells me they love my voice, or tells me they believe in what I am doing, I write it down.   I have a folder on my computer now where I am collecting these comments.   Soon I plan to create an area on my home  office wall where I can post them and see them whenever I sit at my desk.

Does this sound egotistical?  Maybe it is.   But keep in mind that we are usually so quick to acknowledge any negative statements people make about us and our creativity as true, and we rarely do the same for the positive statements.   Why should I choose to believe every negative thing and ignore it every time someone supports me?

Now, I don’t know if it’s really that there are more people saying wonderful, self-esteem-boosting things,  or if I’m finally open to noticing it instead of brushing it off, but either way, the effect feels amazing.  I am reminded that there are people who believe in what I am doing, and it makes it just that much easier to believe in it myself.

I highly recommend this practice if you need a boost in your self-esteem and need to gain some faith in what you’re doing.  You will see that there are way more people supporting you than you could have imagined, or that you allowed yourself to see.    What I noticed almost immediately is that almost all the negative comments were coming from one or two sources, whereas the Encouragers are coming from all sorts of places and people.  It has made me able to see that the Critical Voice wears very few faces, and the Encouragers encompass so much more of my experience.   Considering that, I find the Encouragers a more trustworthy and believable team.

Gradually, I feel those spiky places in me that have been wounded by my Critical Voice start to scab over, then soften. (C.V. is different from Internal Editor Steve…. my Critical Voice is comparable to the character Bridget Pilloud hilariously calls V.o.D. the Impaler) Eventually, new growth will cover those places, and while I will always have a scar to remind me of where I’ve been, they won’t be tender to the touch anymore.

And for everyone who has encouraged me so far and continues to be my best backup:  Thank You.  I am endlessly grateful to you, I remember you and chances are, your words will be up on my wall soon.

So Tell Me: Do you have Encouragers that you haven’t acknowledged yet?  Why don’t you think they are telling you the truth?   What would it take for you to believe the wonderful things people say about you?