I was first introduced to this technique two years ago while I was in counselling. Now personally until I met Paul I had never found counselling useful, in fact it had always made me worse than when I started! Paul was different though, instead of telling me the way I thought was wrong and I needed to change it (yes I was actually told this by one “professional”) he asked me questions: Why did this certain thing cause a certain condition to set off? Had it always done so? Etc.
It turned out these were the right questions to ask! It made me consider things that I never had before and this way he actually gained my trust. So when he mentioned that a Happy Jar could be something to help me when I feel my depression start up, I was skeptical but gave it a go- and I’m so glad I did!
What is a Happy Jar you may be asking? Well put simply; a Happy Jar is a container of some kind full of your happy memories, achievements & to be fair anything at all that you are proud of. Buuuut don’t think that you have to use a jar just because it’s in the name- I don’t- and in this post I going to take you through the process of how I created my own and a few of the things I have in it.
What you will need:
You can use fancy paper and pens and make it as colourful or plain as you like- its your project, you do you boo!
My mum bought me the tin that I use for a couple of reasons; its cute, it has a jar on the front filled with stars and because on the bottom it says “we all can shine”, something she says I need to remember more often. You can use whatever you like, before she bought me this tin I just used an old coffee jar that I washed out because it was the only thing I had to hand at the time.
The next part is (for me anyway) the most difficult part- What are you most proud of? Think back over your life and ask yourself what things you are proud to have achieved. For me there were things like; being able to go to university, getting out of a relationship that was no good for me, going to gigs and getting front row on two of them, starting up this blog & making a start on getting my own business up and running.
It can be really hard to think of things to put in, it took me hours just to think up about 20 things, but remember- this doesn’t have to be done all in one day! Just do what you can now and then maybe you’ll be reminded of something else a few days later that you hadn’t thought of at the time. Just add it in. Also if you do something in the future, don’t forget to add to it.
A little trick I use is that I set a reminder on my calendar every Sunday to update my Happy Jar, usually after writing my Dear Diary posts as my week in clear in my head after writing about it.
Don’t worry if there are weeks where you can’t add to it, I go through long periods where there isn’t anything I want to add and then in a week I could add 5 things.
Be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much!
So lastly; How do you use one?
I guess that everyone is different here so I’ll simply tell you how I use mine; Whenever I start getting intrusive and negative thoughts I’ll get myself sat comfortably on my bad (normally cross-legged because I find that so comfortable for some reason!) and open up my tin. I empty my head of thoughts and concentrate on my breathing, like when I’m meditating/practicing mindfulness, and when I feel calm and empty of emotions I start reading through my memories.
Now I’m not going to say it works every time- it doesn’t- but for the most part it allows me to reflect on what I’ve achieved in my life and stop the thoughts of “you’re useless” & “you’ll never achieve anything” that I get oh so regularly.
It gives you the weapons you need to fight off your demons and stand your ground, because you have achieved more than you realise and you need to celebrate this fact!
A twenty-four-year-old autistic writer and designer from Sheffield. Tattoo obsessed, animal lover, self confessed bookworm and eclectic witch.