Affirmations and Self-Love

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.

Tiny House Dreams

Recently I’ve discovered the TV show “Tiny House Nation,” in which two guys help various people around the country to downsize their lives into 500 or less square feet. I’m hooked. Two years ago I moved out of my three-bedroom townhouse and into my mentor’s house where I spent most of my time between my bedroom and the kitchen, and now I live in a shared house where I do the same. I’d looked into buying my own tiny house earlier this year but wasn’t able to get financing because the only option was for mobile homes, and my hourly wage wasn’t enough to qualify me for that. Now that I’ve discovered there are financing options available for potential tiny homeowners, there’s a part of me that wonders if I should move ahead with it.

I’m pretty sure I’ll wait until after I graduate from grad school, but I love dreaming about my own space on some land just on the outskirts of town—or maybe even in a hidden, wooded area in town, if I can afford the land—with a small vegetable garden. I love the idea of making use of vertical space with hanging herbs, window flowers, magnetic spice containers, and multi-purpose furniture, like the Murphy bed that converts to a table, or the staircase that holds storage under the stairs. Everything has a purpose, and everything has its place. Nothing is wasted.

With a space like that, one can’t collect extra things they don’t need, because there’s no place for them. I’d be more motivated than I already am to minimize my things. Already I’m looking forward to decluttering what I’ve managed to accumulate in the short time I’ve lived in my current space—mostly freebie health and beauty supplies from work. Already I wish I’d gone through everything in my storage space and gotten rid of most of it—though I did get rid of a lot, I kept quite a bit and sent it to my stepfather’s storage area, as he kindly allowed for me. But after keeping my things in storage for over a year, I realized that most of that stuff I no longer want or need. And by the time I get to the rest of it, I won’t want or need even more. All the things that I have held onto over the years, for the most part, I’ve come to realize how little of it I really need.

I want to live in the present moment, but it’s fun to dream. It’s nice to know I have viable living options after I graduate—after I accumulate more debt. It’s nice to feel like there’s a future to look forward to, even if my goal is to focus on living in the present moment. I feel more secure feeling like I have financial stability, even if it’s a somewhat false sense of security, because who knows what the future really holds. It just feels good knowing there are options. There are solutions. And I love finding solutions in the details, like the wood-burning stove to warm my house instead of electricity—though I do plan to have electricity, preferably from solar panels. The water/toilet has been my biggest concern, until I realized I can get well water. The cost of land rent is also a concern, but I like the idea of being able to move my tiny house when and if I need to move somewhere else for work. I can also look into buying land. I like the idea of owning my tiny house and keeping it forever, or for a very long time. If I were to one day acquire wealth and decide I wanted a bigger space, my tiny house could go next to my new place, or I could sell it.

I think that is the new American dream. One of the new tiny homeowners on the show said that nowadays more Americans are looking to do work they love and then live the lifestyle that fits that, rather than work at a job that provides the lifestyle they want. It’s not the things we have that are important, but how we spend our time. I think part of the American dream always has been to find solutions, and so many people are in so much debt now that this is another solution we’ve found in the evolution of how to live.

In the meantime I want to remember to appreciate what I have:  a roof over my head, some fridge space, a bathroom to share with only one other person, a shed for my bike. And, more importantly, a boyfriend who I adore, and a community of people who I can turn to when times are tough. That’s what life is really about.