My life is sailing along pretty smoothly these days so I don’t need to keep looking in certain folders on my computer, the ones labeled “Nice Words”. This hasn’t always been the case. During some lonely and unsettling times, I wasn’t sure I could justify taking up space on the planet. Those nice words kept me going.
I’m probably kidding myself, but I think I hid my distress pretty well, at least from most people. I got out of bed every morning. Accomplished the day’s tasks. Even acquitted myself well with whatever I took on. I enjoyed a reputation that kept the contracts coming in. But inside I was afraid. My life was on a collision course, and I wasn’t sure it was ever going to get better.
Of course, you know the real truth of the matter. It wasn’t going to get better, at least not until I took the necessary steps to move myself out of the rut I was stuck in.
While I was mired in the rut, I needed the lifelines people tossed my way. They were mostly e-mails. I tucked them into folders labeled “Nice Words”. When I needed to remember not everyone was as hard on me as I was, I’d open the files and read the encouraging words.
Today, curious about what was still in there, I’ve been opening some of the old files. Some were the proverbial straws. Clearly I was desperate to grasp at anything. So I smiled ruefully as I deleted a bunch of the “nice job” or “good work” e-mails.
Others were more substantial, such as:
- “You have a very powerful gift of speaking.”
- “Boy I am so glad to have met you in this life time, you taught me the meaning of following through when meeting with people and just how rare that is as well as what a great impact it had on me when we first met. Very professional. You have taught me the great feeling of caring when you looked me in the eyes and spent time with me. I like you.”
- “You have a very special gift of helping people find great value in themselves and their efforts. It’s meant a lot to me and my work. “
- “One can have all the content knowledge in the world…but if one can’t communicate it…it gets no where…that’s where your expertise really comes in”
- “You are such a mentor to me and I will be soaking up inspiration as I follow you around like a puppy dog!!”
They are all dated so I know they were tucked into those folders at a time when I really didn’t believe any of those nice words. Still, I figured the people who wrote them were sincere. Deluded maybe, but honest. So I held onto their words.
I feel tender toward my sad old self. I’m very happy these days and feeling extraordinarily fortunate. But life’s a roller coaster. So I’ll keep those folders on my computer and continue adding to them. They make me feel grateful.
If you already have files like these, you know how reassuring they can be. If you don’t, today is a good day to start.