I just realized that last week’s post was my 100th, so that’s exciting. I’m in the middle of another busy piano week and am nursing an old playing injury which I don’t want to aggravate, so I don’t want to spend much time typing today. So I’ll get right to the point.
In an effort to try to eliminate some of my negative self-talk, this week I tried doing Daily Affirmations. I wasn’t sure exactly how to go about it, though – should I do it Stuart Smalley-style, looking at myself in the mirror? I was pretty sure that would invite even more negative thoughts.
Or, I could just steal some affirmations from Skeletor.
I searched several websites which pitched Self Affirmations as a way to trick the brain into believing things differently. That didn’t seem likely to work with me, so I continued my search. Eventually I found a suggestion I felt would work for me:
Make a list of what you’ve always thought of as your negative qualities. Include any criticisms others have made of you that you’ve been holding onto; whether it’s something your siblings, parents and peers used to say about you when you were a child, or what your boss told you in your last annual review. Don’t judge if they’re accurate and remember we all have flaws. This is one of the beauties of being human. Simply make a note of them and look for a common theme, such as “I’m unworthy.”
It then suggested taking the common theme and composing an affirmation that is the opposite of that theme, then repeat this affirmation a gazillion times. Although I chose not to follow all the steps, I did make a list of my negative qualities (unsurprisingly simple). The common theme was pretty easy to spot – “I’m disorganized and undisciplined” (also unsurprising). Since I was pretty sure I would laugh myself right out of the mirror if I tried to make up an affirmation that was the exact opposite, I decided instead to find the good qualities about my disorganized mind: “I am flexible and adaptable by nature.” That’s positive, right? And it’s true.
Then I decided to add some positive, encouraging words to reinforce the good ways I try to overcome my lack of discipline. My affirmation became: “I am flexible and adaptable by nature and I seek to create external strategies to give structure and order to my life.” Also true – I’m always looking for ways to force myself to be organized. This sounded like a good affirmation to start with. It’s positive and it’s honest. I’m not trying to trick myself into believing something I know to be false.
I felt good that I had found a way to do affirmations without being cheesy or silly, but I was surprised by my reaction the second day of repeating mine. As I said my thing out loud, I decided to add two more words at the end: “(I’m trying.)” For some reason, this made me very emotional. I realized that, for all the negative things I listed, and for all the things I wish I could change about myself, one thing I can’t deny is that I haven’t resigned myself to staying in one place. I might set up systems or job charts or incentives that ultimately fail, but I never stop trying. Saying those words to myself felt (and I know just how corny this sounds, so believe me when I say there’s no other way to describe it) like I was giving myself a hug. I sat and cried for quite a long time.
Because I get bored by repetition, I looked for other affirmations that were an accurate but positive description of me. I found some by remembering things I learned about myself writing old blog posts: “I have something unique to offer my family.” “I try to see things from others’ perspective instead of judging.” “I can conquer my fears and insecurities to try new things.”“There’s a whole world out there to experience outside my living room.” I also found some in my patriarchal blessing: “I respect myself and show this respect by the way I live.” “I have a great ability to show compassion and love.”
And, believe it or not, I found some inspiration not from Skeletor, but from He-Man: “I have the power to change my life for the better.” This was a good reminder because sometimes I feel trapped by my circumstances and forget I am capable of changing most of those circumstances if I choose to.
And my favorite affirmation came from our family’s favorite words of encouragement, which our youngest son shouted out to our oldest as his was just about to begin their concert. Just in the time between the audience cheering and the first chord, in a rare moment of silence, he said: “You’re better than you think!”