Positive Affirmations - Do They Actually Work?
"You is smart, you is kind, you is important." ... Anyone?
Years ago I had a hard time believing that what I thought about myself had any influence on what would happen in my life. How could saying words in my mind make any difference at all?
In the last two years I have had the chance to explore my beliefs and understanding of my inner world and the world around me. It was a hard pill to swallow to admit that I have more power of my mind than I had been willing to admit. If I had to pinpoint where it really started to shift, I would say it was my re-introduction to yoga. My dear friend Mackie is a yoga instructor and while we were in school we started up a wonderful routine of morning yoga and breakfast before our classes. She is such a great teacher and brought into my life the idea of setting an intention for the day. Depending on how we were feeling, what we were experiencing, we would set our desired intention for our practice and for our day. It was incredible. Some days we desired to be patient, others we sought gratitude and stillness. It was the first time I had started to talk to myself, repeating what I sought from my day over and over. Perhaps you're thinking that my whole world opened up, changed before my eyes and I lived happily every after. Not quite!
It was a slow change, some may even describe it as glacial. I didn't really notice it at first - I'm generally in a good mood and I have always loved to laugh. I really noticed when I started using affirmations before bed. I would tell myself whatever it was that I wanted to believe. For example, one of the most powerful early experiences was in regard to my body image. I was lying in bed one night and I caught myself being overly critical of my body, specifically my stomach. I tried something new that night where I lightly rested my hands on my stomach and repeated "I love my body, my body serves me." over and over until I fell asleep. The next morning I didn't feel different, and probably for the next week I didn't really think about it or my body at all. One morning I was getting dressed and I looked in the mirror - zoning in on my stomach for a moment - and something inside my head shouted "I LOVE MY BODY" and I nearly fell to the floor. The same mind that was prepared to be so critical before, just spouted love instead. I chose to tell myself something different, to change the narrative and choose self-love over self-hate. It was a deeply moving moment for me; one that felt extremely empowering, and it all happened within my mind.
I apply this in many ways in my life that it has become my new normal. Before our RHN board exam, I would stretch my neck to the left and right because it was sore from sitting and writing. I started to say "I am smart" on the one side, and "I am capable" on the other. It felt silly at first then it merged into feeling really good as it reset my attitude while I continued to study my little heart out. And you guessed it, when I stretched my neck during the exam I heard the words repeat, right on cue, to push me forward with renewed confidence.
My board exam was 8 months ago and I still hear the echo of those words from time to time. I have also introduced new affirmations while running and exercising. My current favorite when I feel myself getting tired or want to stop is "It's hard, but it's possible, it's hard but it's worth it." When I say these words to myself, I feel the urge to keep going, push beyond my normal limits, try different strategies, and keep taking steps to accomplish my goals. Its absolutely incredible.
Please let me make something abundantly clear. I am not special. I am not a guru. I am a regular person who is choosing to try another way to love myself and achieve my goals.
It doesn't hurt to speak to yourself in encouraging, loving and king ways. In fact, I think it heals.
What would you like to start believing about yourself?