“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” — Henry David Thoreau, Author, Poet, and Philosopher
Affirmations – Webster’s Dictionary definition:
1) The act of affirming; something affirmed; a positive assertion
2) A solemn declaration made under penalties of perjury by a person who declines taking an oath.
The context of the word “affirmation” best fitting to this article is, “a positive assertion.”
Affirmations, as they apply to persons in recovery, are used to change negative, self-serving and egotistical thoughts. Affirmations are useful in the process of fixing broken belief systems. They can be in the form of a vows or simply a positive statement about your self. Affirmations are verbalized self-talk that when repeated, actually changes your brain chemistry thus changes your mindset. Over time, affirmations can become reality.
Why do we need affirmations?
Many people in recovery have a warped sense of perception. Somewhere along the line, rather it was from our parents, schools systems or peers we started believing we didn’t measure up. It is believed that over 90% of all human thoughts are negative. Add negative thinking to low self-esteem creates a feeling of not being worthy. Feeling unworthy is rocket fuel for addiction.
Watching the tube and listening to the “talking heads” we could all easily perceive the world is an awful and wicked place. Overtime, we all internalize our environments. This is why I constantly point out to people in recovery, we are 100% responsible for our actions and our thoughts. Therefore, we need to make decisions on what we will allow to penetrate our minds.
Affirmations, if used properly and regularly will change negative thoughts about yourself into a self-enhancing more accurate perception of your self worth.
Authentic affirmation will help us on our journey to peace, love and serenity.
Not all affirmations are created equal. I have heard many affirmations that I believe to be damaging for people in recovery.
First of all – affirmations work. They work so well that making the wrong affirmations can lead to disappointments, loss of faith and loss of hope. You may ask, “What could be so controversial about something as simple as making an affirmation?” Let’s discuss the “Dos” when creating your
Recovering people should consider these guidelines.
• Affirmations should be stated in a positive tone. Instead of saying “I am not going to drink or use drugs every again” (which includes many negative words) – I say, “I will be sober today.” These words are positive, realistic and achievable.
• Less is usually better – meaning “concise positive assertions” are initially more effective than long puffed up statements. Affirmations such as, “I am honest,” “I am loving,” “I live in abundance” are easy to use. Many effective concise affirmations start by saying, “I am and… fill in the blank.”
• Use affirmations often. I recommend daily, and if possible as part of your morning meditation. Affirmations also work well when you are under stress to prevent negative and destructive self-talk.
• Update your affirmation list often. You can add, subtract and change the wording of your affirmations as you see fit, always remembering that it is the repetition that actually changes your brains neurochemistry.
• Counteract the negatives in your past. Let’s say your parents constantly said to you, “You are lazy” and maybe it was true. Maybe you were lazy, or maybe their standards of ambition were unrealistic, “it doesn’t matter.” What is important is that now, you say over and over, “I am ambitious.” And if you are not presently ambitious, once again “it doesn’t matter” as long wish to become ambitious.”
• Add the word “Really.” To emphasize good traits you are known for use the word really in the affirmations. “I am really a good listener” and “I am really a loyal friend” are good examples.
Remember Stuart Smalley (AKA Al Franken) from Saturday Night Live? “I am good enough, I am smart enough and dog-gone-it people like me.” The character was hilarious, however the point was well taken. Affirmations alone will not make you “whole” (Greek for sanity) – but used correctly and repeatedly can make a real difference your self-esteem. Here’s where I step on some toes.
I suggest you DO NOT USE THE FOLLOWING slogans or similarstatements as affirmations.
• I’m the best.
• I’m number ONE.
• I expect miracles.
• I deserve a break.
Since affirmation work really well, they need to be realistic. Prideful assertions may program you to be arrogant. These assertions indirectly compares you to others, totally missing the point intended by practicing affirmations.
I believe if you were called stupid as a child or compared negatively to another sibling, a great affirmation is to say, “I am intelligent” not “I am the smartest kid in my family.” “I am intelligent” helps you get over the myth of your stupidity and at the same time builds your self-esteem without belittling others. Statements such as, I’m # 1, or I’m the best” indirectly makes comparisons with other and breaks one important rule about affirmations. “Affirmations, as well as with personal boundaries, should be about you and you alone.”
Many people while active in the addictions bounced between feelings of inferiority and superiority, neither of which were accurate. Recovery is about getting real.
Avoid Affirmations that include Expectations and Entitlements
One of the most prolific discoveries in my recovery was, the less I wanted, the less I expected, and the less I felt I deserved the happier I became. Anytime we state, “I deserve” displays a self-centered sense of entitlement that is not an attractive trait.
Expectations can set you up for disappointments. In recovery, we do the next best, indicated thing. We take action to help others as well as ourselves, plus we strive to be honest, open minded and willing. These actions may produce miraculous results without the disappointments that expectations create. Acceptance is the best antidote for expectations.
Affirmations work best with “Action.”
Some affirmations require allot of action. If you are in poor health consider making an affirmation “I am healthy person” – hopefully, this new mindset will inspire you to follow-up by improving your diet, getting exercise and proper sleep.
Affirmations create a mindset that builds a foundation for change.
Examples of words to use in affirmations: “I am____”
More sophisticated affirmation can be derived by adding meaningful words:
“I am wonderfully rich in consciousness”
“I am aware of God’s divine presence with me”
“I am completely at peace and totally in acceptance”
“I am connected with the beauty of nature”
“I live in abundance and prosperity”
“My true nature is to be of love and service to my fellow man”
Affirmations help us change our belief systems and reinvent how we live our lives daily. I adjust my daily affirmations to coincide with the area of my life I am trying to improve.
Remember: The most important conversation you will ever have will be the one you have with yourself…