I was standing in my kitchen, still in my bathrobe. My fingers were stiff as I typed on my work laptop, and my nose felt cold, like a tell-tale winter sign to head inside. Except I already was. 

I had moved into my new house just a week before and had already called a plumber, furnace repairman, and emergency gas line (not to worry, it was just a “nuisance leak!”). 

My week at work had gone similarly–one hiccup or challenge after the other.

So when an issue popped up before 8am and called me to my computer, I was on the edge.

These are the moments that I spiral into negative thinking and destructive questioning. When things are already going wrong in one area of life, it’s as if all of our resources to combat negativity are depleted. 

At that moment, this was the best thing I could think to say to myself:

The work sucks, but I don’t suck.

When things go wrong, we tend to take those as signs of our incompetence. We internalize them and tell unkind stories to ourselves. 

And yet, we are more than any single action. We’re more than our mistakes.

In my case, I needed to separate myself from my work. Even if I screwed up, it did not make me a screwup. 

Even if you fail, it doesn’t make you a failure. 

I believe in the power of mottos and default language. If in our moments of struggle, we can default to a better, kinder approach, I believe it can make a difference. Even if it means talking to yourself in your kitchen.

After I had addressed the issue that morning, I took a hot shower and reset myself for the day. It still wasn’t a good day, but it wasn’t the worst either. 

To being better without being your own high school bully,