Today is starting out disappointing on several fronts, and I’m feeling beaten down. This seems like a good opportunity to talk about encouragement: what works for me, and what doesn’t. Obviously this is just about my peculiar psychology; your mileage will probably vary considerably. Here are some things that don’t really help me:
- Generic internet hugs and words of comfort. I appreciate the sentiment, I really do. But they don’t tend to lift my mood.
- Compliments. For whatever reason, when someone says “you’re amazing”, what I usually hear is: “you need to do even better in order to live up to what people think of you. Nothing is ever good enough.” Crazy, I know, but there it is. This kind of thing often leaves me feeling worse than before.
- Distractions. Most of my anxiety and unhappiness usually stems from life situations that can only be address through hard, persistent work. Unless they come at the end of a long productive day, distractions are guilty pleasures at best, that then leave me feeling worse than before.
- EDIT: Commiseration. Look, I’m not going to be a jerk and say “don’t tell me about your own troubles”. Because I do care. If you need to get something off your chest, do it. But please don’t feel compelled to share your own bad news just to make me feel like I’m not alone. I know I’m not alone, and it doesn’t help.
If I’m down, there’s one thing you can do for me: be awesome in your own life.
Comfort and compliments put the focus on the bad stuff going on in my head. I don’t need to spend more time and energy on that shit. What I need is to be inspired.
So go kick ass. And if you want to help me feel better, tell me how you’re kicking ass. Tell me about your new project. Tell me about your latest triumph. Tell me the thing you learned, and the thing you taught. Show me what you built. Show me the smiling faces of the people you helped. Tell me about the accomplishment that people said you’d never achieve, and you achieved it anyway.
So if I’m feeling bad, don’t feel bad for me. Be awesome for me. Or be awesome for you. Just be awesome.