Recently I started reading a book by Louise Hay called The Power Is Within You, and it’s about learning to love yourself and boost your self-esteem with affirmations. I really do believe that everything comes to us at the right time in our lives, because never before have I been willing to do this. Before now, I felt like affirmations were hokey, and I’m reminded of Stuart Smalley from “Saturday Night Live.”
But I think it’s working. There’s this part of me that still finds affirmations a distortion of reality, but I’ve decided that it’s worth a try. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work and I go back to how I was living before, and maybe try something else. When I think about it, it makes sense that affirmations work. If we spend all day telling ourselves we’re not smart enough, not pretty enough, not funny enough, etc., we’re just confirming that sense of negativity and low self-esteem, the wiring of our brains gets sealed in, like Tara Brach and others refer to. Like Louise Hay writes in her book, affirmations are really about having faith in ourselves. I have come to believe in the power of just having faith that something—a relationship, for example—can work out. As long as both parties believe in it, and are willing to work on it. I have stayed sober because I want to stay sober. So why not focus on the power of self-love, and having the willingness to believe in myself? If I can believe in myself, I can do whatever I put my mind to. I have noticed that people who have confidence say what they believe in: “This product is amazing,” “This 12-step program works,” and even debatable topics are rarely argued, or the confident person talks about it with ease, and others seem to have faith in them. When I’ve tried it myself, even when I wasn’t sure, like at work with a product that someone asks about, I’m not proud to say that I have spoken with certainty that it was a great product, though deep down I didn’t know for sure, just to get the person to buy the product—or really just to leave me alone, if we want to be real here.
Louise Hay writes that she spent all day giving herself affirmations, so when I’m at work, if someone could look into my mind, I’d be chanting, “I love myself. I love myself. I love myself. I’m beautiful. I have a beautiful body. I make efficient use of my time. I do a great job at work. I’m smart. I’m going to do a great job on my upcoming school project. I have done a lot of research and I know a lot about fiber (I have to do a group project on carbohydrates, and my portion is on fiber). I will be able to answer the questions in class.”
Whereas my old way of thinking would be this: “I need to lose weight. How did I gain so much? I need to stop eating ice cream every night. My stomach is really fat. I need to do crunches. When will I have time to go to the gym? I really need to get a trainer. Life was easier when I had a trainer, when I had more money. Now I have this job at a grocery store. I’m a failure. I didn’t do all the things that my boss asked me to do. I should do that today. But I really don’t want to. I don’t have time. I didn’t do a good job at my last job at the marketing agency. They don’t like me there. How am I going to do well on this upcoming project? I don’t have all the answers about fiber and I especially don’t have the answers on carbohydrates. The people in my group don’t like me. I bet they’re going to question the slides I created…” and on and on.
After writing this paragraph, I suddenly feel defeated. But when I go back to the previous paragraph, I start to feel better. The same outcome will happen regardless—or maybe the outcome will be better due to my confidence—so why not feel better in the process? Why not feel better on this journey we call life?
I’m at the beginning of this journey of using affirmations to grow, so I will post updates on my progress.