When I was in high school, I loved the film ‘Clueless‘ – of course, I did.
(I also love the book ‘Emma’ that it’s based on. The lesson about not interfereing for perfection…that took me a little longer to absorb. I am still working on it).
Why did I love Clueless so much? Beyond the obvious – ease, style, knee socks and kilt skirts, dreamy girlfriends and a computer that picked your outfits
N.B: The computer that picks your outfits actually exists now! It’s an app called StyleBook and I include it as one of the most useful apps for coping with chronic illness, check out the list here.
Other than those compelling reasons, I loved Clueless because of the makeovers.
I so wanted makeovers as a teenager.
I wanted someone to work their magic and I would emerge all perfect at the other side.
I was pretty sure this would involve hair straighteners and John Frieda Fizz Ease Hair Serum*, some kind of high-fashion wardrobe upheaval combined with a magic transmission that would give me confidence, verve and body positivity, long before I’d heard of the phrase as body positivity.
I was looking for transformation. One fell swoop, pull back the curtain, turn around and gaze disbelievingly into the full length bevelled mirror. Oh my goodness, instant miracle.
How many of us are still looking for instant miracles?
What does it say to ourselves that we seek to overhaul everything? It’s always big isn’t it? Big promises, big price tags. In that way we can justify the purchase – my life is SO bad so I need this huge nuclear solution and then my life will be amazing.
Creative Adjustments for Coping
I know the pain that fuels this change-seeking. Teenage me knew it, adult me knows it. I too have been there, wanting to buy my way out of pain and suffering. If it worked, what wouldn’t we pay? The problem is how infrequently it works, how high the price and how painful it feels when the high hopes fall.
But maybe there is something in being where we are and moving forward slowly. Transformations can be challenging, upgrading can be hard. Have you ever tried to upgrade your computer? Or operating system? That is not an easy process, my friend. And think how much harder with humanity than with technology.
Have you come across those stories of people who win the lottery and go into crisis? Changing yourself – in many ways losing yourself, or self you knew – overnight is a huge shift. Interestingly, our minds register all change as stressful, not only painful change. On the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, a change generally seen as pleasant and ‘positive’ such as a wedding or a job promotion, registers as stressful as a change like the death of a parent or
Why? Because change can be stressful and large changes can be correspondingly more stressful.
Instead of focussing on life-shifting makeovers, perhaps there is another way?
What if we start with small tools? Small tools, used consistently, with compassion, I believe create more lasting change than sudden transformations.**
It’s incremental shifts that we grow and change with rather than a pendulum shift from which swing back into old habits.
I absolutely recognise large shifts can occur organically; the interaction that somehow stayed with you and comforted you in the future, the therapy session where years of work just fell into place, the treatment that worked and you went into remission. But I feel too often we spend all our time seeking these high points, the big fireworks display of healing, and we are depleted and deprived of daily, small, accessible shifts that are in our power to make.
What are small tools?
Small tools are accessible
Small tools are affordable
Small tools are in the hands of the many
Small tools are from people like you rather than distant experts
Small tools are engineered in your locality
Small tools are adapted for your environment and needs
Small tools are inclusive
What tools they are can be different for each person, for me, it’s accessible, approachable, simple self-care tools. Such as: using my journal, using what I have before I purchase something, drinking enough water, stretching, using a meditation I know, checking in with myself around screen time.
None of these tools are set up as miracle makers. They aren’t flashy. There are no artfully shot photographs or marketing budgets for any of them. They won’t look that cool on Instagram.**
But, over time, they help me make change. Small tools, simple tools. Tools that I have access to now. That most of us have access to today.
Because we are as we are right now for reasons, we may judge ourselves for those, we may like or not like them they may or may not be our responsibility. But I want to have compassion for the self that survived to get here.
Maybe you’ve had to make some ‘creative adjustments’ along the way. Some choices you regret, or decisions you never thought you’d have to face, with no good option, so you just picked the one the caused the least damaged and tried to keep moving forward.
I know, and I am glad you are still here. I hope you can find some small tools and some self-compassion for your use of them today.
What are your small tools? Let me know in the comments.
P.S Want more Small Tools, Big Change ™? Come and join me on Patreon where we are co-creating toolkits of accessible resources. Power in YOUR hands.
P.P.S You may also enjoy Having a Bad Day? Head Here, Creating Joy Every Day (Bad Days Included),Bad Day and Work Mounting? Dealing With a Bad Day Without Chocolate, Netflix or Guilt, Chronic Illness Self-Care Kit.
* This was before I knew about animal testing. Now I would use this heat protecting organic styling spray.
** If Instagram empowers you, more power to you. I’m not hating Instagram and certainly not the people who use