She was pulling out all of these amazing dance moves, utterly confident in front of the camera, laughing and dancing. She kept saying, “Watch this move” and “I’m such a good dancer.” And as I watched her and she spoke I thought, “Yeah, you are! Amazing. So cool and poised.” When it was my turn, it often took me multiple times to get the “take” and I awkwardly pushed myself through, trusting in the editing process.
After we finished filming the video, I expressed my thanks and complimented her on her sureness. And she said to me, “Thank you. Did you hear all of the affirmations I was giving myself to get through?”
Talk about an aha moment.
I had heard the “affirmations,” but I had taken them as something totally different. Instead of the confidence building personal encouragement, I took the statements as fact. I had witnessed a dear, confident friend practice what she preached right in front of me and I hadn’t even noticed until she told me.
I had never practiced daily personal affirmations before this experience. I thought them silly, maybe a little indulgent, and like a true American woman, self-deprecating comments were more my style. This experience, as well as, my work in positive thought led me to believe that maybe I was wrong. Maybe I could cultivate a better relationship with myself, if I practiced positive, repetitive statements or affirmations.
I decided to develop a few simple affirmations for myself. I sat down and wrote the negative self-talk and feeling statements that I often participated in. Then on the page opposite them, I wrote the exact opposite, the positive affirmations or the reverse of the negative self-talk.
Since I was new to the affirmation game and I knew I wouldn’t be as assured as my friend to repeat them out loud at will, I created an easy practice to systematically reinforce the statements.
I typed the full affirmation into the reminders on my phone and set a time for each. Then each day at the specified time, they pop up and prompt me. I then either read them to myself or I repeat them out loud.
I have been doing this for nearly seven months now. Actively repeating positive statements about myself on a daily basis. I have since added my big goal to the mix and am repeating it daily. And I even got a little “crazy” for a week’s time and tried Jack Canfield’s affirmation practice of saying, “I LOVE YOU” to myself out loud in the mirror every morning- that was probably the hardest “affirmation” I have done.
So, what has my experience been? Do affirmations work? Am I a new person? The answer, for me, is yes and no. Yes, it has become increasingly easier for me to accept compliments from others and myself based on saying these daily assertions. I do feel more at ease and confidant. But no, in 7 months I have not unwound 35 years of negative personal talk and belief…but I’m actively working on it.
I believe, just like exercise and eating healthy, having a positive self-image has to be worked at daily. You can’t run once and expect to be a marathoner. Conversely, you can go from having a 6 pack to a beer belly with neglect. Just like with health, you have to make choices and daily practices, like affirmations, that continually reinforce self-love and self-acceptance.
I will keep working on it because just like one of my affirmations says, “I am more than enough.”