Yesterday, we discussed coping skills. One I left out on purpose, because it deserves its own page, is the act of affirming yourself.
Repeating affirmations to yourself can be a positive aspect of living a life in Recovery. You use them to remind yourself that you're just like Al Franken's "Saturday Night Live" character Stuart Smalley. You're good enough, you're smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you. Only, in this case, you like you.
If you need to know why, affirmations will tell you. They can be written or spoken, but they must be words with a positive perspective, since they are the words you keep telling yourself. You are affirming beliefs about yourself when you utilize them, and they won't do you any good if they're negative. In fact, affirmations can negate the negative...that is, remove self-doubt.
I have used them all of my life, but I have not always been successful with them. I have still heard myself slip in those, "I'm such a dummy" or "I'm terrible at math" or "I'm never going to learn how to do this" comments. On the surface, these phrases may sound funny, and you may not think you're taking them seriously, but they do leave an impression. And the impression sticks. It's not a good one. In time, your mind starts to believe those negative comments. Your mind starts to believe the lies you are telling yourself.
LIGHTBULB! When you realize your mind can believe the negative comments you say, then you can see how it can also believe the POSITIVE. So, we use affirmations to remove the negative comments (that sneaky self-doubt) and replace them with life enhancing, reassuring affirmations--phrases that lift us up rather than push us down.
Just for practice, find a mirror, stand in front of it it, and say the following:
I am a good person.
I care about myself.
I work to the best of my ability.
These are three basic affirmations that will work for a man or a woman (both genders can benefit). They are simple statements of fact, or they are statements that you want to be fact and are working toward.
Now, create your own. Make a list. Think of 3-5 phrases you've heard yourself say recently or know that you've said often enough that create negative energy inside of you. Turn those statements around into positives. I'm talking about anything related to work, parenting, life at home, anything at all. It could involve a simple mistake that many of us have made at some time or another, for instance, after that time you ran out of gas and called for help, saying something like, "I'm so stupid and didn't fill my tank in time."
That's a lie you tell yourself. Think about it. So what if you run out of gas? So what? Yes, maybe you could have paid better attention. Maybe you could have glanced at the gas gauge before you drove off down the street. Maybe you could have done a number of things to prevent yourself from running out of gas. But it happens. It's not stupid. You're not stupid for doing it. It's just an event that occurred that's inconvenient. The tank can be filled back up. You can call the AAA company or other mobile service/auto club you belong to for help. A stranger behind you might pull over and help. The truth is, it's a mistake that can be corrected easily.
You're not stupid for making mistakes. But if you ever hear yourself say that you are, stop yourself immediately and say out loud something like this: "Thank goodness, I'm smart and joined that auto club. Now I can get the help I need."
Affirmations are empowering statements. They allow us to do good things for ourselves. Whereas, negative statements do not. They keep us where insanity wants us to stay--insane, angry, upset, stressed, maybe even immobile. Affirmations help move us forward.
Once you have your list of affirmations ready, write them down on Post-it notes and stick them in places where you'll see them regularly--on your computer screen, on your bathroom mirror, on the dashboard of your car, on the refrigerator. Stick them in places where you regularly look. And say them out loud when you see them. You want to retrain your brain to think positive thoughts, to see yourself the way you want to be or know you really are. You want to stop lying to yourself.
When you can see the truth of who you really are, your Recovery is working in your favor.
If you skipped the above exercise but know there is an affirmation you need to be saying to yourself out loud right now, what is it? Write it down right here. We'll say it out loud with you. At BIKE WITH JACKIE, as long as we are willing and able, we help each other. We are all in Recovery together.