Every day, we’re bombarded by messages from others and even from the media. But the most powerful messages we hear every day, actually come from inside our own thinking.
The internal dialogues that play in our head each day have the power to create our reality, from how we think about ourselves to how we expect the world to treat us.
Hopefully by now, you’ve had the chance to learn in the Self-Talk pillar, that what you think determines how you feel.
We literally have the power to shape our feelings and create the life we want through understanding and managing the thoughts we think.
This just might be the most underestimated piece of knowledge in our world today.
And this is why.
Our thinking can feel like it’s completely out of our control. We have so many thoughts a day. No one knows how many, but some estimate they are in the tens of thousands and a large number, perhaps as many as 70 percent of these are negative.
This isn’t a surprise once you understand that the primary goal of our brain is to ensure survival. It makes sense that we’d spend a lot of thoughts on scanning for what’s wrong in order to avoid danger. These thoughts are automatic because survival is non-negotiable for our brain.
Worried about the future, unforgiving of any mistakes, always counting our weak points and thinking of the worst things that could possibly happen…
These thoughts tend to become habit and come so fast into our heads that we’re totally at their mercy.
What can a girl do?
She can take the offensive!
Rather than learning to live with negative thoughts, we can actually lead our brain into the light
The way to do this is through creating and practicing affirmations.
An affirmation is a statement of truth about who you are, the characteristics you embody and the beliefs you hold about the life that surrounds you. These statements are meant to replace the negative thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves and serve to strengthen and empower us.
I am a believer in the power of affirmations.
For years I’ve struggled with an overactive negative brain. I know why- when I was a child and teenager, I had many traumatic events happen in my family from financial distress, illness and lots of loss. I made it through the challenges with seemingly no ill effect, except for the hypervigilant negativity bias in my thinking.
If there was a possible negative outcome from a situation I was in, I’d predict it, prepare for it and pat myself on the back for seeing it before it happened. Needless to say, I’ve lived with a lot of anxiety. Nothing steals joy more than looking out for the negative all the time.
But affirmations have changed all that for me.
Using affirmations require a shift in how we approach our thinking.
It doesn’t have to eliminate negative thoughts, rather it goes around them and when done well, it goes ahead of them, laying down a better pathway for our thinking.
Affirmations are the bridge that help us go from where we are to where we want to be. Affirmations also help us stay there, even in spite of automated negative thoughts.
We have some great research emerging about the immense power of affirmations in all areas of our life.
As you set your affirmations, you’re making choices in how you think.
You’re retraining your mind to operate as you choose.
As with anything that requires training, you’ll have to practice taking charge of your thinking. Although it may feel awkward at first, with time, affirming the truths in your life will become more comfortable and even may become automatic.
Here a few things to think about as you consider creating your own personal affirmations to combat those negative thoughts:
- To begin, pick one belief that seems to be causing you trouble.
What kinds of beliefs and thoughts do you struggle with the most? What are the thoughts that get in the way of your happiness?
In other words, where do you get stuck in your life? Is it in believing you are good enough? Do you have a lot of fear about being loved and accepted by others? Do you have a hard time accepting and loving yourself just as you are? Are you afraid that bad things will happen to you in your future?
Most negative thoughts fall into one of 3 categories. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what your negative thoughts are, check out this:(Negative thoughts about yourself, about your world or about your future.) Example: “I’m always messing up. I Never do it right. I’m such a loser”
- Ask yourself a few questions about the belief you’ve chosen.
- Is this what I’d say to my best friend or someone else that I love?
- Does this reflect what I truly, deeply believe or want to believe?
- Does this belief support me in my goals- Is it good for me?
-No, I’d never tell someone I loved that.
-I don’t really believe that I or anyone always messes up. I am usually more forgiving of others mistakes and I want to believe that success is all about learning rather than succeeding all the time.
-When I tell myself this, it definitely stops my progress and does not help me move toward my goals. It is not good for me.
- What is the truth that you really want to believe?
This is the truth that you want to make automated in your thinking This is where you get to choose what to tell yourself in the same way you’d tell someone you love.
I want to believe that I can make mistakes and still be ok, still feel loved and accepted.
- Create a statement that affirms the truth you want to strengthen.
This is a direct and corrective response to the negative belief you wrote down in step one. This is the beginning of stepping across the bridge from where you are now to where you want to go.
I love and accept myself. My worth is not determined by what I do. I give myself permission to make mistakes and learn from my experiences.
- Practice your affirmation daily.
The number of negative thoughts we think each day is staggering. In order to combat the sheer familiarity of such thoughts, we need to build up an arsenal of affirmations to counter them. This means we need to practice, practice, practice.
If I were to tell you that you had to eat with your left hand (and you were right handed) it would take many meals for you to begin to feel comfortable picking up your fork with the opposite hand. The more you did it, the sooner it would start to feel comfortable. In time, you could actually use your opposite hand without thinking about it, but not without the practice.
- It’s okay to not totally believe your truths yet-
The problem with automated negative thoughts is that they’re automated. Which means that we’re used to them. They’re familiar and they “feel” natural or even “right” only because they have been present for so long. Just like people used to think that the earth was flat and sailing past the horizon would cause them to fall into oblivion, we also believe things that have no logical substance because it’s a tradition in our thinking. This is where having faith to step out into the unknown comes in. It takes courage to grab ahold of the truth you want in your life and reach for it, even when it doesn’t feel like it applies to you, yet.
Affirming a truth that you want to believe wholeheartedly is the first step to actually embracing it. With practice, you will be able to sail past the horizon of doubt in your own thinking and believe the truths you’re telling yourself.
I’d love to hear how affirmations are working for you! Please share with us in the comment section below!