Do you have an emotional mailbox?

An emotional mailbox helps keep us balanced and on-track when we are hit by criticism and negative feedback about some aspect of ourselves or our performance.

by Irene Conlan — 

If you do not have a mailbox, where do you receive your mail? If you do not have an “emotional mailbox,” where do you store all the compliments you hear and all the positive feedback you receive about yourself? An emotional mailbox helps keep us balanced and on-track when we are hit by criticism and negative feedback about some aspect of ourselves or our performance.

What happens if we do not have such a mailbox? Someone who grew up with criticism may have a subconscious mental program that continually says, “Something is wrong with me” or “I am not good enough.” This may be such a powerful program that it has blocked all possibility of ever developing the ability to receive and store a complement or receive positive feedback.

Now as an adult, this individual might be complimented on their looks, their conversational ability, the good job they just did, the compassion they showed another, and on and on. However, they may not have a place to store those emotionally validating statements for a rainy day, because low self-esteem or a poor self-image gets in the way.

Mary, for example, has such a mailbox. Generally, if someone says to her, “That was a really stupid thing to do; you should have known better,” she shrugs it off, resolving to do better next time, or she simply realizes that the one giving the criticism does not have a clue about the situation.

Her mailbox is full of past positive input, and she draws on it regularly. She may respond, by saying with a laugh, “Oops. I will get it right the next time,” and just let it go. Or she may gently say to the judgmental one, “Let us sit down and examine the facts and see if I really did mess up.” She does not get twisted into an emotional knot over it, revert to negative self-talk or incriminate the criticizer. If she did mess up, she fixes it and moves on.

Beth, on the other hand, has no emotional mailbox. She receives many compliments on a regular basis, but because of poor self-esteem and a poor self-image resulting from past experiences, they do not stay with her. She may acknowledge the compliments with a “thank you,” but they have no place to alight. She does not believe them. She cannot buy into them. She does not even remember them.

When someone says to her, “That was a really stupid thing to do; you should have known better,” she may overreact and respond with anger disproportionate to the comment. Or she may be depressed for the rest of the day, or the rest of the week. She may go into a state of self-pity or victimhood — her mantra becomes “No one understands me or appreciates me” or “I cannot do anything right.” She has no sense of well-being to draw from.

The fix? Get quiet and relaxed. Begin to imagine that you can build a mailbox somewhere — the heart area is a good place, but it does not have to be there. It can look any way you want it to — just like a post office box, the blue mailbox on the corner, the mailbox in front of your house — whatever image works for you. Visualization is very powerful when working with the subconscious mind.

When you finish, know that your mailbox is there. And for a while, consciously store the compliments you receive in it. Become aware of them when you receive them, and imagine yourself putting them in your mailbox. When someone says, “You really look nice today,” or “Great job!” you can consciously store those compliments there. Then on a rainy day, you can still have a feeling of being OK. You may not see instant results, but, over the long haul, you will build a bigger and fuller inner mailbox of well-being.

 

Irene Conlan has a master’s degree in nursing, is a certified hypnotherapist and a certified past life regression therapist. www.theselfimprovementblog.com or iconlan@cox.net.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 5, October/November 2006.

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