When I had the idea of creating and sending appreciation cards, I thought it would be fun and easy. Most people enjoy getting personal greeting cards in the mail. I like doing things that make people feel happy. So you would think this would be a win-win.
But I’ve found that I often procrastinate when it comes to writing and sending appreciation cards. This has come as a surprise to me. Why would something so seemingly positive be so difficult?
For example, the other day I wrote a card and sent it to a person who is both a friend and someone I consider a colleague. I respect and admire this person and I believe the feelings are mutual.
But I fretted about the card I was about to send because my printer left a small smear of ink on the back of the card. In my mind I could see this person saying to someone else, “It’s unprofessional to send a card smeared with ink.” And immediately I go to negative thoughts about myself. I don’t want people to think I’m unprofessional. They’ll think I’m lazy. That I don’t take pride in my work, etc.
When I send appreciation cards I feel much more vulnerable than when I send a Thank You note or a Birthday card. Because when I write the reasons I appreciate someone my reasons are personal to me. They are personal to my relationship with the other person.
And when I express what is in my heart. When I put the words in my heart out into the world I’m taking a risk that what I write won’t be received in the spirit with which it is given.
The irony is, of course, that by being vulnerable I am creating something that is potentially a great deal more powerful than a thank you note. I am telling someone in a very personal way here is why you matter to ME. I am telling someone that I value them and that I am taking a small risk that they may reject what I’m offering. That their rejection will affect me.
To this date, I’ve never been told my card annoyed or angered someone. Feedback from recipients has been consistently positive. People often tell me that receiving my card cheered them up or pulled them out of a slump.
And yet I still frequently feel insecure and anxious when I send cards to certain people. Usually people I don’t know well and I’m not entirely sure how they will feel about the card.
I have a couple ways of handling my insecurities. Sometimes, I’ll first send a card to someone I know will be delighted to receive an appreciation card. This helps to soften the emotional edge I’m feeling. The next card I’ll send is the one about which I’m feeling intimidated. And sometimes, I just send the card regardless of my fears.
One thing about these cards I find helpful to remember: I don’t send these cards to boost my ego. I send these cards because I feel a deep sense of mission and purpose. The most important thing is to clearly express the appreciation in my heart to the other person. How the other person responds is actually doesn’t matter.
However we do it, there is something sacred about sharing the simple messages in our hearts with others. I believe my contribution makes the world a better place in small, subtle ways.
This is why I keep creating, writing, and mailing these cards.