If you’re as old as I am, you may remember the Saturday Night Live spoof called Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley, which essentially pokes fun at the use of positive affirmations. And at some time in your life when you were down in a slump, it is highly likely someone perhaps suggested for you to “just think positive!” There have been countless books about the use of positive thinking, affirmations, etc. You may have heard of author Rhonda Byrne’s popular book and documentary, The Secret, which focuses upon the law of attraction. The law of attraction, in a nutshell, proposes that we attract whatever we think about – whether good or bad. Some may say it’s just hocus pocus or something mostly yoga-practicing people meditate upon, BUT there is supportive evidence behind the power of thought.
While Stuart Smalley is good for a laugh, the reality is that the use of affirmations does do something for us. Consider this simple process: what we think, influences how we feel, and how we feel dictates how we behave. You see what I’ve done there? It’s like a continuum… thought -> feeling -> behavior. So, if we ultimately want to change our behavior, it makes sense to start with what we’re thinking on a daily basis. For example, if I wake daily and think I have no purpose in life, I’m inclined to feel depressed or sad about that, and that is going to impact my motivation to do anything productive, so I don’t bother and remain in that rut. Need another example? I conclude in my head that I cannot do anything right, as it relates to my marriage. As a result, I start to feel agitated toward my spouse. Gradually, over time, I just give up and withdraw from him or her.
What if I took those same two examples and attempted to rewire my thinking so I don’t just stay unmotivated at home or give up on my marriage? How great would that be? So, now when I wake up daily I may say to myself: “I don’t know what my purpose is but I’m making the choice to live in such a way that helps me find out what it is.” Hmm… thinking that way leans toward a feeling of optimism and hope, rather than gloom and doom. I feel like I have a chance. I have something to work toward. That optimism leads to motivation and before you know it, I’m out the door and ready to Carpe Diem.
How about our second example with the marital situation? Rather than ASSUMING I cannot do anything right, I can take pause to consider the instances in which my partner complimented my actions or times when I know I put forth effort to do some really great things for him or her (might even – God forbid – have a face to face communication with my partner and INQUIRE about what things I do that are pleasing to him or her!). From there, I’m able to conclude that I actually DO do some things right. My thought then becomes more along the lines of “I’m a good partner, and with continued effort I can get even better.” I suspect I might then be left feeling rejuvenated and driven to do better, which translates into more healthy and fruitful interactions with my spouse.
While these are two very basic examples, the underlying premise is that one can take any negative thought pattern, seek evidence to the contrary, and start going down that thought path instead. You’re accepting an alternative narrative. Nothing in life is concrete truth; rather we are all interpreting our experiences to develop our own truth or perspective. You can re-write that truth at any time. Now, this does require lots of practice. It doesn’t happen overnight. Look at it this way: it has taken you X amount of years to get into the thinking pattern you find yourself in today. Thus, it’s going to take you a while to grasp this desired shift in your thinking.
The first step is recognizing the negative thoughts that are flowing through your mind that are not FACT, so you can then examine to determine your ‘evidence to the contrary’ that supports another line of thought. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself over the years that you’re not intelligent, that you’re bad at relationships, or that you can never catch a break. You mean to tell me that 100% of the time these things have been fully accurate? Is there any evidence to the contrary? It may take you some time, but I guarantee it’s there.
Consistent application of repeated affirmations, over time, rewire our brain and raise the level of feel-good hormones. Notice the emphasis on consistent and repeated. Daily practice is key, so be consistent in your efforts; hone in on what you’re repeating to yourself regularly and determine if you need to be repeating something that’s more helpful and supportive. Make it a habit to start and end your day with some healthy thoughts geared toward your goals.
Daily affirmation examples:
- I have the power to control my reactions to the challenges I will face.
- I can change my life.
- I possess the wisdom, the power, the motivation, the inspiration and the passion to accomplish anything and everything I choose.
- I am worthy of love.
- My relationship with _______ is capable of growth and improvement.
- There is value in my role as a son/daughter/wife/husband/friend/employee/etc.
- All of the resources I need are within me.
- I am whole, complete and perfect just as I am, right where I am at.
- Peace starts with me.
- Today my world is changing for the better. I open my awareness to my shifting reality.