Not Feeling Super-Model Confident Today? Hit The Feel Good File.
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD
A creative life isn’t all wicker baskets filled with golden Labrador puppies.
Lonely, funky periods arise that we need to walk through.
At times it feels like we are standing on our isolated heath watching the football captains and cheer queens of the world frolicking in a “cool kids circle” of life.
On heath (remote grassy cliff) days we shake our heads and wonder what the heck we are doing trying to weave words together or make stuff no one may ever understand.
I want to share a secret thing I do on the darkest of my;
“I’m soo, not a cheerleader” days.
Hit the Feel Good File
I read a few emails from what I call my Feel Good File.
The file started as an actual manilla folder where I kept paper cards and letters that kind folks wrote to me over the years expressing thanks for insight I had given them back when I did consulting.
I didn’t call it my Feel Good File then.
It was just a dusty purple folder under my desk that acted as my fire extinguisher in a glass cabinet; to be broken open only in case of an emotional emergency.
Peeking in it once in a while could crane me out of the well of self-doubt I managed to get stuck in.
When I moved out west and everything went digital the file landed in a box somewhere.
I missed the sanity that the purple folder’s very existence gave to me.
So on a whim on a low self-esteem day years back I started a digital version of the paper purple file.
What to name it?
I typed out FEEL GOOD (all caps) as a joke to myself.
I figured the “all caps” would help the digital file stand out.
This way I’d remember to try to feed the empty file a scrap if one came its way.
Now my digital Feel Good File is not as skinny.
It’s got a few life-saving emails from friends, editors, clients, or blog readers like you who have been sweet enough to tell me something wonderful about my writing or art.
Encouraging things I otherwise would have forgotten.
3 Reasons You Want to Keep A Feel Good File
1. Because Our Brains Are Cruel Jelly
Ever read over a nice email and promptly forget almost everything in it in 2 hours?
A little miracle flew into your inbox.
But so did that notice about your insurance claim being denied
You read that AllState or Anthem email and POOF!
All the fairy dust from the little miracle email vaporized.
Our brains blithely release positive feedback from our memory banks on an hourly basis. But they seem to wrap their mental jelly tight round the negative things people have told us.
(We can be plagued by a harsh art critique for decades.)
That’s why we need to keep a Feel Good File. And it will take you maybe 30 seconds to set up.
2. Your Feel Good File Keeps You Grateful
A Feel Good File can have the same impact as a gratitude journal.
Feel Good Files make us more aware and grateful for the love and appreciation we have already received.
Your file won’t overinflate your ego, it will nourish soul.
Reminding yourself of the little miracles that have already occurred for you in your life will keep you in the present moment; balanced and enjoying what you already have instead of being off-kilter, grasping for illusive unnamed bits of approval on a far off horizon.
3. Your Feel Good File Reminds You of Your Creative Mission
All artists and writers have a unique mission.
We are all trying to communicate something personally important to us before we die.
Matisse said this towards the end of his life:
“The artist has but one idea.
He is born with it and spends a lifetime developing it and making it breathe.”
— Henri Matisse
It seems unbelievable but when we are down or stressed we can forget that one idea.
On the dark days, you can open up your file to remind you of what truly “makes you breathe.”
People who love your art and have written to you about it sometimes have a better ability than you do to express what makes it tick.
Artist and writer Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, uses his own version of The Feel Good File when he’s having a down day. (God knows his file is way bigger.)
Austin Kleon Keeps a Praise File
“Occasionally, I have the good fortune to have something take off online, and for a week or two, I’ll be swimming in Tweets and nice e-mails from people discovering my work.
It’s pretty wonderful. And disorienting.
But I always know that high will taper off, and a few weeks down the road I will have a dark day when I want to quit when I wonder why the heck I even bother with this stuff.
That’s why I put every nice e-mail I get in a special folder. (Nasty e-mails get deleted immediately.) When those dark days roll around and I need a boost, I open that folder and read through a couple of emails. Then, I get back to work.”
“Try it: Instead of keeping a rejection file, keep a praise file.”
— Austin Kleon
Why You Should Start A Feel Good File — Like Right Now
You may have been a creative for eons and saved zero nice emails to begin your file.
Create one anyway.
Start today. Time races by.
Over the next few years of selling at art shows, writing for magazines, making mighty mosaics, or just general existence, you will gather an astonishing array of niceness.
Nice things have been coming your way all along.
You just didn’t have a distinct physical (or perhaps mental) file to store them together in yet.
You and your work are worth it.
Start or add to your own Feel Good File today.
I’d love to know if you too ever have low confidence days, wanted to start a Feel Good File or if you have your own version/s of one. Let me know in the COMMENTS below.
If you need a first email for your Feel Good File, just leave me a link to your art or writing below and I’ll send you a little letter to kick it off. 🙂
Thanks for reading.
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