The following is a guest post about why you need to keep a positive evidence folder from Kait at Life as Kait.
Do you remember the last five times someone did or said something positive that made your day? Not just someone saying you have a cute top on. But, those times people go out of their way to let you know how much they appreciate you. Or, a thoughtful congrats for something you did. Those memories can really change the mood of your day and lift you up on those days that you need it the most.
If you could truly remember five times, you have a **rockstar** memory. But, most of us don’t. In fact, studies reveal that the human brain reacts the most to negative memories we have throughout our lives, rather than positive.
Why does this matter? If you are anything like me, you have a hard time remembering the good when things go downhill. It could be a mistake you made. Maybe someone you respect was curt with you. Or, someone could have purposely attacked your character.
Without realizing it all of the time, you start to get down on yourself and question who you are. Forgetting all the good that you put into the world every day.
Let’s be real. Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns… although that sounds like a good time. It’s hard. The best way to get through it is to be prepared. In order to be ready for days where you need to remind yourself of who you are at the core, you must start keeping a positive evidence folder.
What is a Positive Evidence Folder?
A positive evidence folder is exactly what the name states. It is a folder that you keep stuffed FULL of all the positive things about yourself. It is kept in a place (secret or not) where you can refer to at any time and for any reason. Usually, it is opened and reviewed when you start to hear negative self-talk within yourself. That inner chatter that tells you that you are not enough for whatever reason. She/he is a liar. This folder proves them wrong (yes… I personify my inner critic!).
You get to decide what goes into this folder. Basically, anything that reaffirms how awesome, beautiful, and kind you are at heart. For me? I like to collect texts and emails. Hard evidence that I can go back to when I need a reminder. You might also want to include awards, voice recordings, pictures, PDFs, videos, or anything else that lights you up!
Why is a Positive Evidence Folder Important?
They help quiet the “stories” you make up
Stories are the scenarios you make up when your brain is tumbling out of control. This usually happens to me in the car. I am upset about something that happened or I am worrying about something that has not even happened yet. Then my brain goes through a whole “story time” where it makes up a story of what “could happen,” which becomes my truth. I end up having a full on conversation in my head with the person and it doesn’t even usually end of transpiring. Actually… fun fact… studies show that 85% of what we worry about in life doesn’t even come true! What a waste of worrying.
Can anyone relate to this? If not, I ENVY you!
For all of you other humans out there, positive evidence folders help quiet the “stories.” They can help bring you back down to planet earth where you can focus more on living in the present. Not living in your made up land controlled by fear and worry. Stories cause you to think FALSE truths about yourself. When you are feeling these stories creeping up (and when your car is at a complete stop), refer to your positive evidence folder. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself who you truly are at your core.
They help remind us of our worth & value
Above, I mentioned our inner critic. People have different names for these. I’ve heard people use gremlin or even create their own name for it. This refers to that voice inside of you that tells you that you are not enough. The one who kicks you when you are down and reminds you of all of your flaws. We all have one and they can be really tough to combat. Having a positive evidence folder is like a vaccine for a sickness. It helps rid of the negative thoughts and feelings surrounding anything that randomly comes up on any given day.
Why I Started Keeping a Positive Evidence Folder
If you read my post about my top three podcasts (read here), you know that Charlene Johnson is one of my favorite. Especially her old pods. She is all about self-love and living a life full of intention. On episode 4, she tackled ways to practice having more confidence (listen to the episode here).
“I want you to focus on the positive. I want you to collect evidence like a file. Whether it’s an email, a folder that you keep of positive emails that have come from people or even handwritten letters from friends and note something that reminds you of all that is great about you. Something that boost your confidence. Something physical that you can read and maybe it’s just recalling someone has said to you and making a conscious effort to focus on that as opposed to that one person in your life who loves to pick apart everything.” -Chalene Johnson
As simple as this strategy is, it is genius. I never thought to do this before listening to this podcast episode. Also, while doing research for this post, I could hardly find ANYTHING about positive evidence folders! I cannot believe this idea is not discussed more often.
All the feels were too much for me
I am a sensitive person. I have actually been told manyyyyyy times in my life that I am too sensitive. Well, that’s a load of bologna. I love that I feel my feelings all the time. But, that is an ENTIRE new blog post to be written one day. Anyway, sometimes I get overwhelmed and I need a tool to quiet the negative self-talk. So, my positive evidence folder was created in March and I have Chalene Johnson to thank for that!
My timeline & results
Since learning about this tool, I have filled my folder full of items that remind me who I truly am. I have screen shots of text messages, I’ve typed out positive conversations I had with people that lifted me up, inserted pictures of moments I made it through difficult times, I have countless e-mails and… my favorite… letters.
I hope this post has inspired you to build your own positive evidence folder. Especially if you are someone that has trouble quieting their inner critic on a whim.
Below, I am going to show you the steps to creating your own positive evidence folder!
How to Start a Positive Evidence Folder
1. Choose one place
Designate one spot for your folder. Me? I am a tech girl. Having my folder synced to my phone and computer works for me. No matter what, one is near me so I always have access. To keep everything neat, I use Apple’s NOTES app. My favorite part is it is password/fingerprint protected so I can keep it private. But, some people like to be more old fashion. A paper positive evidence folder might work for you. You can print out your texts and pictures, write out your conversations, or keep a diary. Get creative and stay true to yourself!
2. Find Your Evidence
Now it is time for you to go on a hunt. See what you have readily available to you. Texts, e-mails, notes, voice mails, videos, cards… gather them up. Then, maybe journal a bit. Try to remember GOOD convos you had with people that made you feel incredible. The kind that make you go, “huh… I didn’t realize I impacted them that way.” Focus on the most positive experiences and interactions that you have had. Go back as far back as you desire.
3. Organize Your Evidence
One you have all of your evidence gathered, you might want to organize your material. If you are doing this digitally, you might want to create sub folders. You could break them down my types, dates, or people. If you re physically keeping a positive evidence folder, you might wan to use a binder instead and use dividers to organize. For me? I like to keep my digital evidence in date order, having the most recent material towards the top of my feed. If you have multiple types of evidence, you might want to have various categories: photos, videos, texts, etc.
4. Set reminders
Like any new tool, it will not work unless you make it a habit. Setting reminders is an easy way to do this. I recommend adding to your folder once a week, biweekly, or once a month…whichever works for you. Don’t wait any longer unless you have a solid memory. For you, it might work to have a post-it somewhere you see each day with a reminder of when you collect evidence. Again, it is all a personal choice.
5. Know When to Use It
Remember, any time you are hearing your inner-critic chime in, it is time to open this folder. It might help to get to a quiet place where you can be alone and at peace with reading your personal files. Go through each piece of evidence, one-by-one… beginning where you wish. You will know when you need to stop reading. You will feel your body relax. While doing this, focus on breathing slowly and make sure you are in a comfortable position.
WARNING: After using a positive evidence folder, you might feel the following:
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Two are private & will be hidden on your phone with a pass code for ultimate privacy.