There is no doubt that the world is a hard place to live in today. With the job market down, real estate prices in the gutter, global warming, the war in the Middle East, and oh yeah…an economic recession looming over our heads, it’s no wonder that the majority of us are merely passing through life overworked, overstressed, and struggling just to make it through the day. Phew! When put like that it’s a miracle that we’re not all walking around like zombies comparing sob stories and commiserating on the woes of the world! Is it too much to ask just to want to feel good?
Six years ago, friends Ashley Bennett and Shannon Thompson asked themselves this very question. Grieving the recent death of her brother, and struggling with an addiction to crystal meth, Ashley was not in a good place in her life. Her self-esteem was at an all time low, her personal relationships were suffering as a result from it, and not to mention the health risks that accompany an addiction of this nature. She had hit her rock bottom, and didn’t see any way out.
Seeking condolence and guidance from best friend Shannon, Ashley bravely made her cry for help. Shannon, a well-respected therapist in South Florida, shared with Ashley some “tools” she’d used in the past with her own patients going through similar struggles. She went on to ask Ashley to write down “inspirational messages” that held significant meaning to her on scraps of paper, and place them in a zip lock bag. She instructed Ashley to carry this ‘bag’ with her at all times, and pull out one of the messages and read it out loud every time she felt herself going to that “dark place.” The theory behind the exercise being that the human brain is like a computer…that input equals output, so the more Ashley read these messages, the more her brain would start to believe it, thus manifesting the effects of positive reinforcement both physically and mentally.
What Shannon was teaching Ashley was to essentially reprogram her mind…not an easy task. With a lot of hard work and the fortitude to persevere, Ashley slowly began on the road to recovery. For months that zip lock bag did not leave her side, and just as her friend had advised, she took out a message and read it, and re-read it until she started to believe the words she was saying aloud.
It’s been six years since Ashley first began her healing, and she’s now celebrating six years of sobriety. Attributing Shannon with sharing the tools that ultimately gave Ashley her life back, she urged Shannon to partner with her in sharing this exercise with the world. It was, as she believed a crucial element to her recovery, and if it had helped her, it would without doubt help others in need. Thus, the Feel Good Bag was created.
No longer a zip lock bag with scraps of paper, the Feel Good Bag has evolved into a plush velvet bag containing 10 zinc alloy cast metal stones, each engraved with inspirational messages like “Trust the process of your life,” “You can believe in yourself,” and “Don’t take it personally, it is not about you.” Small enough to fit in your wallet or back pocket, individuals are encouraged to carry one or several of the stones with them at all times, and follow the same steps Ashley first embarked on years ago.
Whether suffering from an addiction like Ashley was, enduring a difficult time in your life personally, or feeling a little “down” from the curveballs life can throw you everyday; everyone can find some comfort in these messages.
Elena Lelchuk is a publicist at 5s Public Relations, a PR agency based in Boston, MA.