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Healing Mindset

Fill In the Blanks

When I took one of my children for counselling, something magical happened that I was not expecting. We each had our own counsellor. (It meant that for a while, I had two therapists. Double or nothing. It was a gift.) This counsellor, whose official title is Child Life Specialist, had a way about her. She was insightful, wise, professional, funny, safe, relatable and completely nonjudgmental. I truly felt like she was my cheerleader. It felt so natural to be honest and vulnerable with her. She helped me more than she probably knows. Her official title should be changed to Life-Changer.

I know not everyone can go see her, so I feel the responsibility to share her powerful wisdom. The gist of it is this: when we are missing information, our brain fills in the blanks, making up a story. The story isn’t necessarily accurate, but our brain sticks with it. Our perception becomes our reality.

Wow! This was paramount! So powerful. It caused me to reflect my “stories”. What is actually true? What is made up? This has helped me question my narrative and seek for the truth. It’s helped me talk myself down from that proverbial ledge.

Dang technology is the root of many of my stories and it shouldn’t be. I should have the skills to call a person on the phone or see them in person in order to ask a question. Instead, I resort to the convenient text or Facebook message. Sometimes even the lack of punctuation causes me to fill in the blanks. If I wrote some meaningful text and the only response is “yep” or “okay” without an exclamation mark, period or even an emoji, I question if the person is upset with me.

 I can recall a time when I reached out to a friend through text. (This was our main avenue for communication and she was usually so prompt with responding.) I never received a response. I thought maybe there was a tech problem, so I reached out via Facebook Messenger with the same content as the text. The message was time stamped as “read”. Still no response. I felt slighted. I felt dismissed. As days passed and I still didn’t get a response, I filled in the blanks. I convinced myself she was mad at me. I went through every possible scenario of WHY she would be mad at me. I couldn’t think of one. Then, I remembered another similar story. The difference was this other friend who slighted me was friends with someone who not only unfriended me on Facebook for reasons unbeknownst to me, but then went as far to block me. (That hurt.) Both of these incidences had me thinking that something was fundamentally wrong with me. That there must be a group of women who talk about me and now they all hate me. I then started to feel insecure. Does everyone just tolerate me, at best? I started to question my social skills. I started to question my personality. I totally went down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and shame.

Guess what happened? The friend eventually reached out to me, apologizing profusely for not responding sooner. Her kids were on her phone and happened to open Facebook Messenger, marking my message as read. She never got the text, either. Boy was I relieved! This friend was not the Vice President of the We Hate Jacquie Club.

Honestly, I despise the feelings that follow when I go down the paranoid and suspicious path. Whenever I hear the word suspicious, it makes me think of Elvis’ song Suspicious Minds. (The first time I saw Dwight Yoakam’s music video of Suspicious Minds, I was ‘caught in a trap’. I couldn’t stop looking at Dwight in his cowboy hat and tight jeans. Maybe this is when my bizarre crushes started? Oh, wait. Nope. My first bizarre crush was David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King in the movie Labyrinth. That’s for a for another post.)

I can now identify a bit better when my brain is filling in the blanks. It doesn’t make the stories less real, but now I have tools to shorten the movie into a trailer. No more extended versions for me!

I was taught by my Child Life Specialist to ask myself questions:

Is this true? How do you know it’s true? Is it absolutely true? Be a detective. Where’s the evidence?

So, was there evidence of a We Hate Jacquie Club? No. That was just paranoia. Are there some people who aren’t my biggest fans? I’m sure there are. Does this diminish my value or worth? No one has that power, unless I give it to them. I am a recovering people-pleaser, and I have definitely handed over the power to others. I’m aware of it now and I’m trying to shift my mindset. (If you are a Labyrinth fan, you’ll remember when Sarah yells to Jareth, “YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME!” This is what I need to keep telling myself.)

This leads me to daily affirmations. I have embraced these personal positive repetitions. Because of this, I view myself differently. I’ve changed the way I speak to myself. Sure, I felt awkward to begin with. It felt very Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live. I am here to tell you that positive self-talk is effective!

For a while, I practiced power poses. I should start it up again. If you aren’t sure what the H I’m talking about, and you have 21 minutes, watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk. There are so many things we can do to help ourselves. We live in a remarkable and open-minded time!

The other things I learned while seeing my Child Life Specialist all have to do with helping ourselves. She told me, “If you need that compliment, give it to yourself.” So let’s say I wrote a blog post where crickets chirped, and I wasn’t ever validated by anyone. I can validate myself!!! I can look no further than myself! (For the record, I definitely have validation-seeking tendencies, but that’s for another blog post.) I was also told that I have the ability to filter out negativity. I can use my voice. And I will be heard, even if it’s only heard by me. The language I was given for this is, “No. I’m not letting that in.” So so simple, yet so so powerful and effective.

The cool thing is, I don’t feel overwhelmed with what I need to change. I used to feel so bogged down with ALL I had to to. I have a long way to go, but I’m filled with such hope!

I’m the little engine that could and I think I can keep making these positive changes. No, I KNOW I can. And you can, too. Believe me when I say that if I can change, anyone can change! You’re the little engine that could, too!

By Just Jacquie

I’m (also) just a girl, standing in front of this blog, asking people to read it. (We will be forever friends if you know what movie inspired this sentence.)

I love love. I love God. I love my family. I love to learn, to create, to teach, to share, to laugh, to think, to read, to quote movies and to listen to music. I love lamp.

https://www.instagram.com/iamjustjacquie/

30 replies on “Fill In the Blanks”

Dearest Jacquie, I love reading your posts. You are so awesome. I am in that fill in the blank mode so often, This blog made so much sense to me. Now I need to learn how to stay out, make sure the evidence is there and not just assume. Love you so much.

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Love it!! I am a total fill in the blanks kind of person…. and I need to stop it and be more of a detective. Thanks for the wisdom. 💕🤯

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I have totally done this!! Someone doesn’t text back quickly or doesn’t use punctuation and I’m offended and assuming they hate me and I’m the worst person ever. I feel you, girl!!! Love the affirmations! I’m all about that! Love your post! So relatable!

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Man, this is so good. You should start charging for this therapy:) I’m guilty of this, and am going to start being a detective now!! You write beautifully:)

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This is a post every single one of us can improve on! I totally fill in the blanks and it can really get the best of me! I wish we could see ourselves the way our true friends viewed us! We just need to change our mindsets to do so, just one slow step at a time.

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What an empowering post! Thank you for sharing. And I’m pretty sure my first bizarre crush was David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King too. 😉

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Great thoughts, Jacquie. Byron Katie has a similar method of questioning your thoughts. She has you ask questions like: is this true? can you absolutely know it’s true? how do you react when you believe that thought? and who would you be without the thought? Powerful questions.

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The reason we vibe so hard is we are two sides of the same person. You are the heart, and I am the sarcastic older brain who has “lived” a little…but for all the painful searching and insight reaching, I thank you. From the bottom of my withered yet still trying heart, I thank you. I am not trying to toot your horn 😉 but you are hitting so many nuggets I’ve been digging and digging for, like a 5 ur old who is watching a show and forgets the world can still see him…(that’s a lot of digging)…thank you for being brave and sharing this stuff…love you long time

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Jacquie!!!! ( insert VERY loud voice here ! ) You have a GIFT to write, and to help other people! I’m serious when I say this,…you need to do a live class on this blog for us women, and well as our teenage girls. This spoke to me, and made so much sense! We as women, tend to always be “filling in the blanks”, when we need to just STOP. Thank you for this – so well said! xoxo

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You made me laugh out loud, grin like the Cheshire Cat, and feel inspired! I’ve never really considered speaking publicly (it terrifies me), but recently the thought came to me. And then again yesterday. And now you said this? Hmmmm.

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I am a fan of yours. I’ll even start a club. This is weird to say, so, I’ve already filled in the blanks: if you ever have the occasion to watch The Labyrinth with my husband, you will not be disappointed. (Ask Darcy and Lauren.)

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I am loving your blog Jacquie! I am the worst for this one….it is always nice to hear I’m not alone in some of these characteristics that I know are my best traits. I am also terrible at telling people how much I appreciate their words and vulnerability…I usually take their words and silently appreciate leaving them to read between the lines, which means they never truly know how much I appreciate them! So keep writing my friend…I’m reading and I love it!

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Awwww! Krista, I miss you! I cherish the three years we taught together. Thank you so much for reading my posts and for commenting. ❤️

I’m also glad I’m not alone in this fill in the blanks default.

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I love your posts Jacquie! Your power pose made me think of Amelia’s superhero stance before she does difficult surgeries (yes, I’m talking Grey’s Anatomy!) and I’ve tried that and it is empowering. I think I’ll try doing it during those times when momhood has me down in the trenches HARD. Thanks for sharing the things your learning! And for sharing insights in therapy. I think it’s such a great thing and takes courage to be vulnerable that way.

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Thanks so much Bethany! I hate to admit that I haven’t ever embraced Grey’s Anatomy. I do know who McDreamy is, though. Haha! And P.S. I miss you. I just thought about you the other day. I was eating peanut butter and remembered the delicious peanut butter squares you used to make.

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I miss YOU! I can sometimes hear you taking when I read your posts. Also, I didn’t watch Grey’s until this past year after Jake was born. It was my show to watch while he nursed. If you ever come to Calgary, let me know and I’ll make you some peanut butter squares! ❤️

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So I just binge read all your posts, finally got around to reading them and I can’t believe I waited so long and can’t wait for more. So much truth, good laughs, insight, witty and learning in each post. You have a knack for writing, nice balance of being real/ not complaining or looking for sympathy and I also love how you’ve been true to who you are, who you were and who you have become. I like how you’ve intertwined your faith in there as well. I can’t say enough good things about it and excited for more!

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CARMEN! (I just yelled your name.) I’m tearing up. ❤️Thank you so so much for this comment. You truly knew what to say to help me feel your encouragement, support and validation. Love you, lady!

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