The Best Advice I Ever Received

Alex van

This. Is. What. We. Do.

That’s the best advice I ever received.  It came as parenting advice eight years ago when I was reeling from the reality of what having a new baby really felt like.  The hormone happy haze was gone and I was caught in the past of how life used to be and fixated on the future of what I hoped it would be like again.  Neither fantasy proved helpful as I coped with sleepless nights and the loss of any shred of control over my life.

My friend told me to just repeat the phrase, “This is what we do.”  Over and over.  Nearly nine years later, I have found that this advice has stuck with me and I use it on almost a daily basis.

For it to work, you  need to use it in the exact right way.  You cannot change the words.  You cannot add words.  It’s like this for a reason.

This.  “This” is vague on purpose.  “This” seems entirely normal and natural…everyone does “this.”  The word “this” keeps the situation at an arms distance and helps create some breathing room.

Is.  “Is” is right now.  It’s not what we used to do.  It’s not what we are going to do.  This IS what we do. Today.

What. We need an adverb here.  What else would you put in there? It’s definitely not a “This is how we do it” situation.  I don’t have any major feelings about this word, other than it needs to be there.

We.  The word “we” is very important, even if the situation is just about you.  We is an implied group.  “We” means we are all in this together.  I don’t care if you don’t know who “we” actually is.  It doesn’t work if you say “This is what I do.”  Nope.  You need an implied sense of community here.  You are not alone, this is totally normal, “we” do this all the time.

Do.  Yep, we do this.  We do this and we move on.  We might do it again, and again…it might last for years.  But that’s ok.  This is what we do.  We won’t do it forever.  But right now, we do this.  And that’s ok.

This is the magical phrase, friends.  Try it out the next time you are starting to feel overwhelmed.  I kid you not, I think I use this every day.  My first memory of using this phrase was when I was nursing my oldest in the middle of the night.  I was so tired.  I was so mad that I couldn’t sleep.  So I tipped my head back, closed my eyes and just started repeating it to myself.  It was zen in five words and has continued to bring me peace no matter the situation.  Starting a new job, selling a house, muddy floors and a skunky dog.  I have yet to find a situation where it doesn’t work.

This is what we do.  And everything will be alright.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Caitlyn says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this! You have hit me at the perfect time to read and use this mantra.. it sure beats my previous “there is a lot to do and I cant do it all” which I too recall chatting to myself on a sleepless nursing night…

    A real gem, Em… thanks for this one!
    Poopy diaper, dirty runaway dog, mouths to feed… THIS IS WHAT WE DO!


    1. Emily says:

      I’m so glad it resonates with you! You’re spot on…diapers, dogs, feeding frenzy…this is what we do. Together. 🙂 XO


  2. Amy says:

    I love this and this is my new quote “let what you do today be enough”
    Miss you so much & hi Caitlyn!! Love you both!! I love Facebook – Caitlyn is all the way on the west coast you are north and I am south – yet we still have amazing conversation bc of you!! I miss my old friends xxoo


    1. Emily says:

      Amy – you’re the best. That’s exactly the essence of the phrase. It keeps you grounded in the moment and not fixated on the past or future. I still wrestle with how I feel about social media, but the connections are absolutely a silver lining!


  3. jill says:

    This phrase has came to me just when i needed it !


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