A Way to Be Kinder to Myself

By Liz Ness on May 6, 2019

Though I know it's a weakness and that my personality type (INTJ) happens to be prone to it, I can't seem to shake it. I worry that I'm a dislocated, disengaged, and inattentive mother. Worse still, this worry is a supporting theme in the stories I make up in my head about the life Duncan, Erik, and I have together. And, even though I know I'm being unkind to myself as I make up this story, I do it anyway. Then, over time, my memories shift to fit the unkind stories.

Eventually, as my memory succumbs to the inner story, I start to feel like my entire reality is about work: One task after another, working towards...? Well, working towards what? I wonder. I begin to worry and start to believe that I never pause to connect, reflect, or love. At least, this is what that little voice in my head whispers to me; the one that tempts me toward self-doubt, self-criticism, and depression. Finally, the worry creates enough anxiety that I can't think my way through what's going on in life in any real way.

Luckily, this isn't a new phenomenon for me. I'm seasoned in this self-destructive and depressive propensity of mine and have developed a few practices to correct the story line, set those memories right again, and counter the behavior before it starts.

Over the years, I've established a regular practice of reflecting about the previous day. More recently, I've made it a more regular and daily practice to jot down what went well, what didn't, and the big learning of the day. All of this really helps. Also, a daily gratitude and prayer practice helps me let go of my anxiety and worry. Finally, I've been a photo junkie since my first camera was given to me (when I was eight). Together with my written reflections, the visual records remind me of the reality of things. But, it's the combination of all of this in a vignette (like the following) that helps most of all.

Patterns/Textures by Katie Pertiet | Designer Dgitials

For example, this layout supports a different reality than the one in my head. This vignette tells two stories about me engaging with Duncan and Erik. And there are dozens upon dozens more in my collection of vignettes.

For me, the collection serves as a calibration tool. It allows me to reflect and assess if I'm living a life that aligns with my values in an honest way—especially, my value of love and how it manifests for me through parenting and being a wife. These vignettes challenge my perspective and bias against myself, making me a kinder person. Likewise, these vignettes are key to safeguarding my memories from any negative misshaping the inner whisperer might toss my way, making the hobby an essential practice.

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