Building An Affirmation

Highlands Hammock State Park - a path through the flats
Highlands Hammock State Park – a path through the flats

Building an effective affirmation can be kinda tricky when you’re first starting out. So many of us have things we want to change, bad habits we want to let go of, that sometimes it’s difficult to not include in the affirmation the thing you’re trying to get away from. Remember the old joke about trying not to think of a pink elephant? Once the image is in your mind, it’s hard to get away from it. And it’s the same thing with affirmations. You want to be sure that you don’t mention, in the affirmation, the thing you’re trying to get away from, because your brain doesn’t recognize negatives. Just like trying to not think of that pink elephant, anything you include will be brought to mind, which is, with stuff you want to lose, the exact opposite of your goal. For example, say you want to quit smoking. You can’t make an effective affirmation that includes the words “smoking” or “cigarette” because that will just get you thinking about needing a smoke break.

You also want to make the affirmations be in the present tense. If you put the action in the future, then your brain is always going to lazily put off action until a later time, because the affirmation doesn’t apply to now. You don’t want to write “I will…” or “I intend…” or any passive verbs that put the action at some time other than this moment.

Some possible choices, some of which may also work for other things, too, are:

 

I make healthy choices. (This one would also work with your desire to make healthy dietary choices, or healthy relationship choices, etc.)

My health improves every moment, with every breath.

With every breath, I fill my lungs with clean, fresh air.

 

An affirmation I used for a really long time, in order to correct a long series of poor choices, was:

I release anything that is not for my higher good and ask it to release me.

Another thing to keep in mind, at least for me, is brevity. Some affirmations I’ve come across that others have written, just seem to go on and on. Since I choose one or two to write in my daily journal, five times each, having an affirmation that takes up two or three lines makes me less likely to choose that one, and less likely to be able to remember it during the course of the day to replace any negative self-talk I catch myself using.

My affirmations for today? I act on my intentions (like writing this blog post) and I attract my highest good (because who doesn’t want that?).

 
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Affirmation Defined

af·firm

verb \ə-ˈfərm\

: to say that something is true in a confident way

: to show a strong belief in or dedication to (something, such as an important idea)

In Cognitive Therapy, the counseling client is directed to pay attention to “self-talk”, the internal dialogue we each have running in the backs of our minds. If one is depressed, chances are very good that the internal dialogue is negative in nature, and contributes to the persisting depression. The client is directed to pay attention to these thoughts, examine them on a rational, objective basis, and reformulate them in a way that is not so self-deprecating.

For example, if a person makes a mistake, no matter how trivial, and their immediate internal chatter is, “I’m so stupid! Why do I always make these stupid mistakes??”, he is instructed to mentally take a step back, acknowledge that he is a fallible human being, just like everyone else, and to also acknowledge that one mistake is not ‘always’, that he does well with this tasks for the most part, and is not stupid, but has merely made a small mistake. This is very difficult for some people, especially if their negative self-talk is a perpetuation of comments directed at them by authority figures during their formative years. Often people are able to pinpoint the origins of these negative thoughts to parents or teachers, when they realize that sometimes these thoughts actually manifest in the negative adult’s voice within their memories.

Affirmations are a very strong tool in the reversal of negative self-talk. Sometimes it’s hard not to think to yourself, upon repeating an affirmation that’s important to you, “but that’s a lie!” If you’re always late, and want to improve your punctuality, you might try an affirmation along the lines of “I am always five minutes early.” If you’re always 15 minutes late, your brain is going to immediately tell you that this is an incorrect statement because “I’m always late!” Well, where did “I’m always late” come from? How long have you been telling yourself that? How long have you been affirming your chronic tardiness? Is that your mother’s voice you hear in the back of your mind asking you why you can’t ever be on time? (My personal affirmation for punctuality is “I am always in the right place at the right time” – kind of an affirmed agreement between me and the universe.)

I use affirmations on a daily basis. At first, I used only affirmations others had written, and sometimes I still do, but now I also craft my own when I have a very specific idea I want to reinforce to myself. My last post mentioned my current top affirmation, I act on my intentions. Some secondary ones that appear in rotation are: I am healthy and whole, which addresses some current health issues; I envision my life as a want it to be, from Unity’s Daily Word, to help me get past the “I can’ts” that I continue to work through; I attract my highest good, one that I really liked the sound of when I read it in one of Louise Hay‘s books .

Next, we’ll talk about some good sources for affirmations and also how to craft your own. Also, please share any affirmations you find helpful.

Morning Affirmations

I try to journal every morning, and by “journal”, I mean that, in keeping with Julie Cameron’s direction in The Artist’s Way, I write three pages of long-hand, stream-of-consciousness, brain dump into a 99-cent (sometimes half that at Back-To-School sales) composition book.  On good writing days, I am journaling at my writing desk with my morning coffee before ever setting foot into the office or even looking at the computer from the doorway. And at the end of my 3-page (or more if there’s a lot going on) daily entry, I choose one or two affirmations to write out, five times each.

My primary affirmation, one that I’m really trying to fully incorporate into my on-going inner dialogue is:

I act on my intentions.

I have lots of ideas, lots of things I would like to do, but I am not skilled at turning ideas into plans and then plans into goals. The bigger things I really want to do get smothered under all the little day-to-day things that I have to do just to make a life. Eating. Grooming. Cleaning. Working. Interacting with human and canine housemates. Unwinding at the end of the day. Without intending, the days just all seem to drift away, not unhappily, but unremarkably, and with no concrete representation of their passing.

I set up this blog over a year ago, with the intention of blogging a book from it. And since then, I’ve thought about it a lot. Thought, considered, internally composed, made chapter lists and sample outlines, and pretty much everything but actually writing blog posts here. But today, when I have less writing time than I normally do due to morning meetings, I have come into the office with the express intent of really getting started here. After mere months and hundreds of repetitions of this affirmation, it seems to have finally taken hold.