“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny- MK Gandhi.”
While we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts occur. However, just because our thoughts aren't everything, they certainly aren't nothing! Our thoughts do matter. Your thoughts matter. Consider carving your thoughts into the creation that you designed, rather than an experience that is happening to you.
What are Affirmations?
Affirmations are statements, or declarations that have meaning to you personally. It's derived from the Latin word "affirmare", which translates to “to make steady, strengthen.” And the good news is, you can use them for EVERYTHING!
With daily affirmations, you are re-training your brain to be mindful and intentional with thoughts. In this way, you learn to drown out the sound of negativity and enhance positive messages. This doesn't mean that life will be sunshine and rainbows automatically, but it does mean that you are course-correcting the thought train by telling your mind that you DO have influence over your thoughts. So, when you stub your toe and think "I'm so dumb, why didn't I see that on the ground?" You can pause, take a breath, and tell yourself "Today I will be kind to myself," or "Today I choose to be positive." By distracting yourself from the typical negative automatic message, you give yourself a new task that takes effort. You are making a choice. And if your inner dialogue is reminding you that your goal is to be positive, you have made a choice in that one moment. If we take it one step further, we understand that our days, years, and lives are made up of moments. If we choose to focus on the thoughts that are helpful rather than unhelpful, we can eventually live a life with much more positivity.
Who does Affirmations Help?
Do you have anger issues? Are you impatient? Are you generally judgmental towards yourself or others? Nearly all of us can answer with a big fat "yes." You might have learned from past posts that this is largely due to an overactive Inner Critic, or how you speak to yourself when you're not at peace. These critical thoughts are negative, unhelpful messages on repeat. But instead of "Everyone's an idiot" or "I'm an idiot," you can learn to slow down the thought train just long enough to start intentionally, mindfully, inserting positive thoughts. No more spiraling. No more helpless, hopeless thinking.
If you are committed to trying out a new skill, understanding that it takes time, energy, and practice, you can gain tremendous benefits in curbing your thinking by fortifying the thoughts that are allowed to remain in your brain. You are introducing yourself not only to avoiding negative thoughts, but rather building positive ones. You are building a growth mindset perspective. This is a way to view yourself and the world in a way that gives you the power to take ownership of who you are in a way that cultivates more peace and acceptance regardless of what arises.
Commitment to practice is the key here. If you practice the skills as often as you can, you will begin to see setbacks and challenges in life are as opportunities be curious rather reactive. The more you practice, the more awareness you will have. You will find yourself feeling compassionate rather than judgmental and to be more peaceful than reactive.
How do I Choose My Affirmation?
Consider the following elements when choosing an affirmation that's good for you:
Maybe you are living through a season of loss or trial, but you want to be happy. The affirmation "I am happy" just won't fit. It's not believable because most of the time you find yourself discouraged. Telling yourself that your happy makes it no more believable than it was before you thought the words. Instead, try something that you can buy. How about, "This is a tough season, and I choose to learn from it." You see the elements at work here? The first statement is acknowledging the validity of any discomfort. If you are having a tough season, you need to give yourself validation that this is true. Speak it. Label it. Do this without judgment. Second, you will send yourself the positive, growth-focused affirmation that you have control, and you elect to focus on what you can control, which is learning from the discomfort. This is an example of a well-balanced, believable affirmation.
Tense- present or future?
Do I need to send myself a helpful message about the future, like the one listed above, or do I need to remind myself about what IS? For example, using the life season of loss, perhaps you choose to send yourself the positive message of "I will accept myself as human, with flaws and strength alike." This might be used when you realize that you are, or at risk for, spiraling in negative thinking. You can accept that you might not be having a growth mindset now, but that you will in the future accept yourself as you are.
The benefit of future-tense affirmations is that you are giving yourself grace to make mistakes. Perhaps you've forgotten to practice affirmations for days and you feel that you have somehow failed. In this case, you might remind yourself of the affirmation, "I am human, and today I choose peace over guilt." Let the judgment go.
Building on the encouragements from above, remember to keep your affirmations positive with a focus on opportunity rather than judgment. If you find that your mind leans towards "Today I will not be judgmental," this is not idea because it gives the indication that you are avoiding rather than specifying what you do want. Try instead, "Today I will be compassionate and understanding." See the difference here? With more gentle language you might find that the affirmation itself brings comfort.
Fits with your values
Think about your basic beliefs that motivate your actions or attitude every day. These are your values. They tell you what's most important to you in your life right now. Some people find a strong pull to serve their community because they have a value that all people should pitch in to care for underserved populations. How we treat ourselves and others tell us what our values are.
Whatever your affirmation of choice is, be sure that it aligns with your belief system, and you will be much more likely to embody the affirmation itself.
What if I need more help with living my affirmations?
I've thought of that, too! In the link here, you will find more information about the Affirmation E-Learning Series "I AM... At Peace." If you find that through this season in your life, you might benefit from a stronger sense of living in the present while also engaging in self-care, you might benefit from the customizable worksheets and activities to help you stay on the right track.
Until next time, know that the light in me sees and honors the light in you!