I was recently watching an episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte drags a cynical, heart broken Carrie to a life/love coaching seminar. As they walk into the auditorium they pull affirmations from a bowl. Charlotte reads hers aloud and says “‘I believe in the good of people.’ That’s nice.” Then Carrie opens hers up and says “I believe this a bunch of hooey.”
To be honest, watching the episode I felt more like Carrie than Charlotte. For most of my life I’ve believed that “life coaching” is a bunch of garbage. I don’t mean to sound negative or cynical, but the only experience I’ve had with those kind of coaches are ones who seem to make up a bunch of lies and then profit off people’s self doubt. Sounds messed up to me. For all my life I have associated the idea of affirmations with one word: scam.
A few days ago I was in a friend’s apartment when I started to notice small notes written all over the apartment. As I looked closer I realized she had affirmations written all over her apartment. She had one on her mirror, on her bed frame, and one on the back of her front door that she could read every day when she left her place and headed out into our tough world. In a weird way, seeing them all over her place inspired me. It made me think, maybe this affirmation business isn’t a load of crap? I don’t know if it came from the fact that I never thought one of my friends would believe in affirmations, or that I was feeling completely out of options for how to successfully implement positive thoughts into my life, but I thought that I maybe I should try it.
Now before I go any further I think it is important to explain what exactly affirmations are. The purpose of affirmations is to help one challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. The science behind them is that if you repeat these positive statements often enough, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes. People use affirmations for purposes of self love, for stress management, success, manifestation, etc. Now the idea of manifestation is one that I struggle with…but I’ll save that for another post. Psychologists and scientists have proven that affirmations can truly give one inner peace. Sounds a little too good to be true?
For the last few years, I’ve been on a self-love journey…trying to repair the intense body shaming I felt and experienced constantly in my transformative years. To be honest, I sometimes feel like I’ll never achieve the point where I fully love myself. Living in our society, the idea of women fully loving themselves feels like a crime, in a way it feels wrong? How messed up is that?! It feels way more normal to constantly have a stream of self deprecating thoughts. But that’s how it’s “supposed” to be, right? If we weren’t shamed for just simply existing, shamed for every little thing about our body, there would be a massive economic collapse. Self love doesn’t help beauty/weight loss companies/etc in business. Reminds me of a quote that I love:
“In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”– Unknown
I’ve always loved the idea of being a rebel…so if liking…nay loving myself makes me a rebel, then let’s try this self love thing! Now what I have realized is that no matter how many self love/body confident captions and photos I post on Instagram, they alone don’t equal self love. For so long I’ve thought I’d just post the captions and the photos, watch the praise roll in, and THEN I’d love myself. It was a vicious cycle that consistently left me feeling empty and wanting more. Recently, I had a major setback in my Body Dysmorphia recovery…so severe that I was laying in the fetal position on my bathroom floor sobbing because I quite literally could not stand the sight of myself. I even placed a towel over my mirror so that I couldn’t see my reflection, and therefore continue to brew in my self-hate. Having Body Dysmorphic Disorder can make it feel almost impossible to love yourself, especially your appearance. I realized that if I really wanted to make true change in my life, strides towards genuinely loving myself, then I needed to try something else…really anything else than what I was doing.
As of late, I have been trying to implement affirmations into my life. Despite the fact that I have always believed affirmations to be a bunch of nonsense, the act of repeating something to yourself daily feels so awkward and abnormal. Looking yourself in the mirror, saying random phrases to yourself? It sounds like the business of a delusional nut job. However, what I have come to realize recently is that, maybe I’m the delusional nut job and people who believe in affirmations are the sane ones? See if speaking to myself with positive phrases, specifically catered to my fears, wants, and dreams would actually help boost my self esteem, then why shouldn’t I try it?
“She has fought many wars, most internal. The ones you battle alone, for this, she is remarkable. She is a survivor.”– Nikki Rowe (author)
My mentality when starting new things is usually “go big or go home”, and with affirmations I adopted the same mentality. I went to Target, bought a pack of Expo markers, came home and wrote all the affirmations I wanted on my full length mirror. Every morning when I wake up, I sit on my bed and I am face to face with that full length mirror, where I can either make a choice to immediately hate what I see, or I can read the affirmations written that tell me to love what I see. Recently, I’ve been doing the latter. It may seem like a small gesture to you, but what I have found is that sometimes the smallest gestures, once adopted into our routine, can make the biggest difference in our lives.
Some of the affirmations written on my mirror are:
- I am worthy.
- My weight does not define me.
- I am a smart and capable woman.
- I am strong.
- Today and everyday I MATTER.
I think I assumed in the past that when I said these phrases aloud to myself, a force or a light would come down to me and I would immediately feel like a new human. I felt that if I was going to do this awkward, uncomfortable routine I wanted something supernatural to happen. What I have found is that the change is subtle…just enough that you don’t notice it until one day you look at your self in your reflection and your first thought is NOT disgust, but contentment..maybe even love. It’s wild when you catch this change in thought process, it really makes you feel like a new human. You quickly realize that those phrases that seemed so small and stupid, are actually changing you for the better.
In my bathroom, where I placed that hand towel, wanting to never see myself again, I wrote the affirmation “You Are Beautiful.” I do believe really really deep down that I am beautiful, but seeing those words on my mirror has helped drive that thought home for me. It might seem simple, it might even seem silly, but in this crazy world where we are taught that we constantly need improving, there is a beauty that comes with realizing you don’t need any improvement — that you are beautiful and worthy just as you are. Affirmations have helped me realize that truth.
I’d love to dive more into affirmations for another post, but I would love to know from you all:
What are your thoughts on affirmations?
Do you have any favorite affirmations?